The Summer Capitals of Europe, 1814-1919 0415792452, 9780415792455

This book is about the European health spas of the nineteenth century: what they were, how they operated, what life was

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The Summer Capitals of Europe, 1814-1919
 0415792452, 9780415792455

Table of contents :
Half Title
Title Page
Copyright Page
List of figures
List of abbreviations
PART I: Spa life
1 Shrines–springs–spas
2 Therapy versus pleasure
3 Spa society
4 Making money out of pleasure
PART II: Business of Europe
5 Royalty at spas
6 Era of congresses
7 Looking after Europe
8 Secret diplomacy
9 Puppets and puppeteers: Summer of 1870 in Ems
10 Bismarck’s cures
11 Rapprochements
12 The flight from spas and the end of an era: 1914–1919

Citation preview

The Summer Capitals of Europe, 1814–1919

This book is about the great European health spas of the nineteenth century: what they were, how they operated, what life was like there and how their functions evolved to the point where their original medicinal purpose was relegated to a secondary place by the unintended uses of spas as stages of social and political interactions. These popular resorts were nicknamed ‘the summer capitals of Europe’ because of the tendency of nations’ governing classes to gather there. Every summer between 1814 and 1914 (and in a few cases even during World War I) continental watering places became a microcosm of cosmopolitan aristocratic Europe, incorporating its conventions, tastes, concerns and interests. As the nineteenth century advanced, fashionable watering stations increasingly became associated with social bonding, matchmaking, pleasure, career building, conspicuous consumption and diplomatic activity that took place during the high season. Marina Soroka completed her PhD at the University of Western Ontario in 2009 and is the author of Becoming a Romanov. Grand Duchess Elena of Russia and Her World, 1807–1873 (2015) and Britain, Russia and the First World War (2013).

Routledge Studies in Modern European History For a full list of titles in this series, please visit

34 Meanings and Values of Water in Russian Culture Edited by Jane Costlow and Arja Rosenholm 35 Italy and Its Eastern Border, 1866–2016 Marina Cattaruzza 36 Franco-Israeli Relations, 1958–1967 Gadi Heimann 37 (Re)Constructing Communities in Europe, 1918–1968 Senses of Belonging Below, Beyond and Within the Nation-State Edited by Stefan Couperus and Harm Kaal 38 Order and Insecurity in Germany and Turkey Military Cultures of the 1930s Emre Sencer 39 Green Landscapes in the European City, 1750–2010 Edited by Peter Clark, Marjaana Niemi and Catharina Nolin 40 Resistance Heroism and the End of Empire The Life and Times of Madeleine Riffaud Keren Chiaroni 41 The Summer Capitals of Europe, 1814–1919 Marina Soroka 42 German Reunification Unfinished Business Joyce E. Bromley 43 Oil Exploration, Diplomacy, and Security in the Early Cold War The Enemy Underground Roberto Cantoni

The Summer Capitals of Europe, 1814–1919

Marina Soroka

First published 2017 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2017 Marina Soroka The right of Marina Soroka to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Soroka, Marina, author. Title: The summer capitals of Europe, 1814–1919 / Marina Soroka. Description: Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon; New York, NY: Routledge, 2017. | Series: Routledge studies in modern European history; 41 | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2016048035 Subjects: LCSH: Health resorts—Europe—History—19th century. | Summer resorts—Europe—History—19th century. | Cities and towns— Europe—History—19th century. | Aristocracy (Social class)—Europe— History—19th century. | Cosmopolitanism—Europe—History— 19th century. | Political culture—Europe—History—19th century. | Social interaction—Europe—History—19th century. | Europe—Social life and customs—19th century. | Europe—Social conditions— 19th century. | Europe—History, Local. Classification: LCC RA846 .S68 2017 | DDC 613/.122094—dc23 LC record available at ISBN: 978-0-415-79245-5 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-21170-1 (ebk) Typeset in Times New Roman by codeMantra

To my daughter Irina, the best friend and the first reader

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List of figures Acknowledgements List of abbreviations Introduction

ix xi xiii 1

Part i

Spa life 1 Shrines–springs–spas 13 2 Therapy versus pleasure 39 3 Spa society


4 Making money out of pleasure 90 Part ii

Business of Europe 5 Royalty at spas 117 6 Era of congresses 143 7 Looking after Europe 171 8 Secret diplomacy 195 9 Puppets and puppeteers: Summer of 1870 in Ems 224 10 Bismarck’s cures 247 11 Rapprochements


viii Contents

12 The flight from spas and the end of an era: 1914–1919 295 Conclusion Bibliography Index

317 321 335

List of figures

1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 2.1 2.2 3.1 4.1 4.2 5.1 5.2 6.1 6.2 6.3 7.1 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 9.1 11.1 11.2 11.3

Ostend. Bather posing for photo (1913) Kissingen. Prince Luitpold Kurhaus Carlsbad. Buvette “Brunnenpromenade in Kissingen” Richard Pűttner. Wildbad Gastein (1885) La Bourboule. Source Felix Kissingen. Konversation Abbazia. Hotel Stephanie and park Baden-Baden view Sem. Monaco casino (1900) La Belle Otero Cora Pearl Nice (1909) ‘Ulk’. King Edward VII at Marienbad (1903) Alexander I (1814) Prince Klemens von Metternich (c.1835–40) Count Karl Vasilievich Nesselrode (c.1815–20) Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna (1863) Biarritz Casino and Baths “After you”. Napoleon III and Bismarck hesitating to accept the invitation of Peace (1867) Aloys von Aehrenthal Aleksandr Petrovich Iswolsky William I of Prussia (c.1870) “The Peace of Europe Is Assured” (1893) Ferdinand of Bulgaria “Diplomats’ Luncheon”

17 20 22 24 29 31 33 46 52 84 101 103 123 127 144 146 147 180 205 210 214 215 232 274 282 289

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I am grateful to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for her gracious permission to quote from papers in the Royal Archives at Windsor. I am indebted to those who in various ways supported and encouraged me: Dr. Viktor Kelner (European University, St. Petersburg); Dr. Pavel Tribunsky (Russian Diaspora Studies Centre, Moscow); Dr. Nadiezhda Kizenko (New York University at Albany); Drs. Charles A. Ruud, Neville Thompson, Eli Nathans and Elizabeth Mantz (Western University, Canada); Dr. Irina Rybachonok (Institute of Russian History, Moscow) and my family in London and in Moscow: Irina Curbelo and Sascha Auerbach, Irina Vorobieva, Natalia and Arkady Shakhidzhanov, and Elena Pogodicheva. I owe thanks to the friendly and efficient staff at the Russian State Historical Museum, the Archive of Russian Imperial Foreign Policy, the Manuscripts Department of Russian State Library, Pushkinsky Dom (Institute of Russian Literature and Arts), Gravure Department of Russian National Library, the State Archive of the Russian Federation, the Bakhmetev Archive (Columbia University), the British Library and the Hoover Institute (Stanford University) for their helpfulness. Marina Soroka, 2016

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Arkhiv Kniazei Vorontzovykh Arkhiv Vneshnei Politiki Rossiiskoi Imperii [Archives of the Russian Imperial Foreign Policy] BA Bakhmetev Archive, Columbia University BL British Library DDF Documents Diplomatiques Français, 1871–1914 (Série 1) FO Foreign Office, Private Collections, Various Ministers and Officials. Public Records Office GA RF Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv Rossiiskoi Federatsii [State Archive of the Russian Federation] GIM Gosudarstvennyi Istoricheskii Muzei [State Historical Museum] IRLI RAN  Institut Russkoi Literatury Rossiiskoi Akademii Nauk [Institute of Russian Literature and History of the Russian Academy of Sciences] LPN Lettres et papiers du chancelier comte de Nesselrode, 1760–1850: Extraits de ses archives OR RGB Otdel Rukopisei Rossiiskoi Gosudarstvennoi Biblioteki [Manuscripts Department, Russian State Library] RA Royal Archives RGIA Rossiiskii Gosudarstvennyi Istoricheskii Arkhiv [Russian State Historical Archive]

Citations for Russian archival sources are to be read as follows: AVPRI: GARF: GIM: IRLI RAN: OR RGB:

fond-opis-delo, list fond-opis-delo, list fond-opis-edinitsa khranenia, list fond-edinitsa hranenia, list fond-karton-edinitsa hraneniia, list

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Every summer between 1814 and 1914, continental watering places became a microcosm of cosmopolitan aristocratic Europe, incorporating its conventions, tastes and interests, among which politics was the dominant one. Leisurely spa cures formed part of the elite’s life because medicine relied on the healing effects of time and rest. Universal acceptance of socially unifying rituals of aristocratic society was a factor of equal importance. The tradition of annual spa visits suggests a series of propositions about the 19th-century social and political culture that outline this book. The first proposition is that the spa tradition was possible because of the way people experienced life. From the perspective of the stormy year 1940, Stefan Zweig looked back at the world of his Austrian parents and grandparents as the golden age of stability: [T]he wave of time carried them from cradle to grave in the same even and smooth rhythm. … Those who had a fortune could confidently forecast their exact annual income; similarly, an official or an army officer could calculate by the calendar the dates of his coming promotions and retirement. …1 Those who owned a house viewed it as a safe haven for their children and grandchildren; family land and professions were passed down from generation to generation.2 The higher placed an individual, the more stability he or she could expect. Barring major upheavals, aristocrats could confidently tell where they would live and die, what schools their sons would attend, what sort of family their daughters would marry into.3 The lifelong routine of annual spa visits also spoke to aristocracy’s firm control of their lives. Predictability was reassuring and beneficial. A man, urging on a friend the need to maintain the habit of annual cures, wrote that ‘[t] he ancients used to say that constancy in all the acts of one’s life is the essential virtue to be pursued by every wise man’.4 Annual cures also fitted into people’s lives because of their attitude toward illness and death. No reasonable person expected youth and vigorous health to be indefinitely prolonged. After a spa treatment proved useless, a man wrote philosophically: ‘how futile are our efforts to delay the final moment. … I have enjoyed a sturdy health till the age of forty-eight; the rest matters not.’ And, he

2 Introduction added that his doctor was the first to admit that medicine was still in its cradle and that doctors killed twice as many patients as they cured.5 Death was taken so matter of factly that in 1908, among other wedding gifts, the young Countess Maia Kutuzova received a burying spot in St Petersburg’s most exclusive cemetery.6 This outlook prepared people to accept illness as a rightful component of life. Being ‘an invalid’ was an accepted social role; ‘weak health’ was neither a deplorable outcome of self-indulgence nor an extraordinary event requiring a temporary interruption of one’s social life. Thus, extended spa cures fitted into the generally venerated concept of rest and ‘satisfied a deep desire that the healing process should proceed within an essentially social environment’.7 The second proposition is that the social life found at the spas was underpinned by the cosmopolitan nature of European aristocracy.8 The aristocracy that D. Lieven described as comprising ‘the magnates and the richer elements of the provincial gentry, families with wealth and status “to live nobly” in the eyes of their peers’,9 travelled abroad mostly for pleasure and in the service of their state. They set the fashion of spa cures, as well as their tone and norms. Rigorous social filtering reduced European aristocracy to a cluster of interrelated families with ties reaching across national borders. Their commitment to personal and blood ties gave rise to numerous traditions, including annual meetings at continental spas. In July, August and September, ‘Tout Paris’, ‘All London’, ‘Alle Berlin’, ‘Ves Petersburg’ and ‘Alles Wien’ mixed in Carlsbad, Vichy or Abbazia, and the spas’ original medicinal function often retreated before their unintended use as stages for social and political interactions. The third proposition is that strong social ties within the transnational elite made spas perfect for diplomats’ usual activities: seeking information, making discreet soundings and conducting preliminary discussions. ‘Nothing could be more convenient for two statesmen than having an important conversation when they accidentally or intentionally met at a hotel or at a public bathing house with no one but a confidential secretary or a valet present’.10 Informal meetings were invaluable for making overtures and for clearing up misunderstandings because courtesy required that political feuds be put aside during social meetings. The Austrian chancellor Friedrich Ferdinand von Beust told an anecdote about his encounter with the Russian emperor Alexander II. Relations between Austria and Russia at this time were cold, and at a reception, with many other diplomats and statesmen around, Alexander pointedly ignored the Austrian. But a day or two later Beust happened to enter a smoking-room and found Alexander II there, who at once began talking to him in a friendly way.11 In 1833, the ‘business of Europe’ was conducted at continental bathing places12 because the European diplomatic network functioned within the transnational aristocratic network, like wheels within the wheels. Over the century, the ball of power moved from monarchs to cabinets, and no business was supposed to be transacted outside ministers’ offices. But foreign policy remained largely beyond parliamentary control because many treaties were secret13 and the foreign service was the last of state agencies to be bureaucratized.14 Thus, diplomats exercised considerable freedom in choosing the manner and place of their interactions.

Introduction  3 Watering places were a neutral ground where the interested parties met as social peers. ‘Asking for favours is easier done face to face’,15 a Russian diplomat wrote, and with political interactions ensconced within the social routine, no one suffered loss of face if an attempt failed. Spas served particularly well for three forms of diplomatic activity: gathering intelligence throughout the century; holding formal meetings of royalty and chancellors in the first half of the century; and conducting secret or simply informal negotiations in the second part of the century. The old spa culture ended when the First World War broke out and the aristocratic ‘international’ collapsed.

Spas, diplomats versus diplomats at spas Literature about spas is abundant: businesses have been financing promotional publications for well-nigh two centuries; interest in the resort as the ‘infamous playground of the rich’ has never flagged;16 historians have long studied them within the framework of leisure industry and travel culture.17 But spas have not been analyzed as a space where Europe’s decision makers met, although David Clay Large, in his overview of Central European spas, included a chapter illustrating ‘international politicking and summit diplomacy’18 at German spas in the late 19th century. On the other hand, much has been written on 19th-century diplomacy and international relations,19 but little on their social context, particularly when diplomacy was ‘off the record’, as it was at the spas. This book looks at what happened at the intersection of three cultural ‘spaces’ – medical, social and political – in a specific historical context, 19th-century ­Europe. It focuses on the following major historiographical topics: the mentality and worldview of the political elite20 and aristocracy;21 the evolution of the long 19th century’s international order;22 popular conceptions of internationalism;23 the simultaneous rise of nationalism and internationalism 24 with its implications for diplomacy and for the way in which public opinion viewed it; the nature of public opinion, its role in politics25 and in international affairs. Case studies of individual diplomatic agencies and agents are numerous,26 an  excellent example being William D. Godsey’s Aristocratic Redoubt, which ties the social background of Austro-Hungarian diplomats to their worldview and professional skills. It is time to look at European diplomacy as a whole, to see what united them. Alfred Rieber hilariously summed up Sir Ch. Webster’s ­appreciation of the allies’ behaviour at the Vienna Congress: ‘the powers conducted diplomacy; the Russians carried on intrigues’.27 It is not what the facts suggest. Their interactions – including those in the specific environment of spas – demonstrate that the 19th-century European statesmen inhabited the same social and intellectual universe; they had similar mindsets and worldviews, and they promoted similar national interests by methods chosen from a universal array of options. As T. G. Otte reminds us, European diplomats acted within the accepted norms of international behaviour and personal norms: ‘The pre-1914 international

4 Introduction system … consisted of shared understandings of the “rules of the game”, what the Powers were and were not permitted to do, and what tools they could use and under what circumstances’.28

Rules of the game When a 19th-century playwright, Casimir Delavigne, said that nations were governed through arrangements made at the dinner table, he aimed his sarcasm at the levity of aristocratic policy-makers. After aristocracy’s political domination became a thing of the past, so did its propensity to antagonize the outsiders. Thus, a century and a half later, a historian respectfully defined their flippancy as ‘the rather aristocratic, political, unbureaucratic, personal conduct of affairs’,29 common for European politics of the epoch. A diplomat’s day in pre-1914 Paris illustrates the ‘unbureaucratic’ style. In the morning he attends a grand funeral of an old general and a meeting at the foreign ministry. He lunches at a restaurant with the current great man of French politics. At 2 pm he is at an opening of an exhibition, and at 3 PM he drops in on a conference and later makes a brief appearance at a charity bazaar. After a dinner in town, he visits the Opéra, where he meets his acquaintances. At midnight he arrives at the Cercle, the exclusive club to which the Paris diplomatic corps is welcomed. Here he finds his colleagues comfortably sunk in great armchairs and smoking in an atmosphere of ‘camaraderie and friendliness, typical of diplomats’. They share jokes and venture discreet political forecasts.30 The author exaggerated for a satirical effect, but on the whole he correctly showed that in a diplomat’s everyday life the professional so completely blended with the social that it was hard to tell the one from the other: ‘He who dances and dines, also serves.’ According to the 19th-century definition, foreign relations were (1) acts that create a legal obligation for the state (treaties, obligations, understandings and agreements); and (2) routine intercourse of states (negotiations, conferences, congresses, audiences and diplomatic correspondence). The transactions of the second category – socializing included – maintained the dialogue between governments. They did not create legal obligations but usually prepared the way for the acts of the first category. Confidential personal relationships formed the background to all political and diplomatic activities.31 People acquire powers from the networks in which they operate.32 One of the ‘old’ diplomats’ strengths lay in the number of connections that their continentwide social networks provided. Requests like this one from a former French prime minister to a Russian princess routinely preceded or accompanied diplomats to their new post: ‘Princess, allow me to ask you to show a little friendliness to a young secretary of our legation … who is going to Petersburg’.33 In the opinion of a subordinate, the greatest asset of the Russian ambassador in London in 1902–1916 was his own and his wife’s ability to fit perfectly into British high society, as they were ‘very much people of the world in the best sense of the word’.34 It is what Walter Bagehot meant when he wrote that Napoleon I sent aristocratic ambassadors to the old courts because he needed people who went into society

Introduction  5 and could send home useful information.35 Forty years later a Russian echoed Bagehot, when he recommended replacing the imperial ambassador to Italy: ‘The ambassador sees no one and goes nowhere’.36 Historians agree that ‘social activities were far more present in the nineteenth century politicians’ and diplomats’ interactions: hunting, clubbing, collecting art, going into society and receiving at one’s place.’37 Actually, some hunted, and others did not; not all collected art; and only those who were married offered private hospitality to colleagues. But diplomats, like other members of aristocracy, regularly took spa cures. Wherever they went, diplomats liked to be among colleagues. In the 19th ­century, use of a single language, French, brought them together intellectually and socially.38 Command of foreign languages and early exposure to social contacts with people from other nations gave aristocrats a ‘behavioural advantage’ by making their minds flexible and teaching them to perceive situations through others’ eyes. They were quick to read their interlocutors’ moods and reactions and adjust their own behaviour – hence their known ability to calm storms, dispel gloom and bring about consensus. In 1904–1905, when Russia and Britain were on the verge of breaking relations, the Russian ambassador’s personality turned out to be a great asset. His subordinate wrote: ‘a talented man but lacking tact and empathy might have soon transformed our barely existent peace [with Britain] into a full-blown war’.39 They were members of a peer group: ‘[I]n the diplomatic career, the hierarchical levels are much less felt than in any other career; outside service relations and its demands, everyone gains full freedom to be oneself’.40 It set the easy and amiable tone of their private and formal exchanges. Thus, as a veteran ambassador wrote, diplomats ‘were made to get along with each other’.41 Outsiders sometimes dismissed them as people who report verbatim boring conversations,42 but diplomats provided their governments with a picture of the situation undistorted by opinions. They reported what they observed, however disappointing or infuriating the result might be. Otherwise no one would trust a diplomat’s statements, and he would become professionally useless. A.K. ­Benckendorff, the Russian ambassador to Britain, wrote to the foreign minister: ‘I feel that there is a divergence between my appreciation and St. ­Petersbourg’s, but I am reporting what I think and what I see’.43 Good diplomats reported facts, though in the most palatable form – an art that they perfected in dealing with their foreign counterparts, when they had to be firm without being offensive. In maintaining communication between their government and the government to which they were accredited they could not afford to show boredom, fatigue or disgust.44 Diplomats made every effort to be independent from popular opinion and propaganda in order to settle conflicts pacifically. James Thompson points out one of the essential characteristics of the 19th-century political world: ‘The idea that opinions were weighed rather than counted’ according to the importance of the persons who held these opinions, allowed decision-makers to ignore ‘the mob passion’.45 Arguments and conflicts were smoothed thanks to diplomats’ ingrained habit of courtesy and professional self-restraint. To become involved

6 Introduction in a quarrel for whatever reason was unprofessional. All the above explains why ‘[d]iplomats rarely make personal enemies in their professional life’.46 Not all members of the corps possessed all these qualities, but as a rule they conformed to the accepted norms. No diplomat could afford to lose his reputation for honour: if it became known that a diplomat employed bribes, wrangled over precedence, stole documents, ingratiated himself with shady power brokers, this ‘shabby expedient’47 followed him wherever he was posted. A diplomat who lost his reputation became literally useless to his government. In 1909, the members of the exclusive Parisian Jockey Club did not dare present the British ambassador’s candidacy, for fear that he might be blackballed and subsequently lose his post.48 Being blackballed meant a diplomat was rejected by society. No state could allow its envoy to become a social outcast.49 The discourse of personal honour, dignity, loyalty, tradition and duty had been a continuous process of first creating a universe within which aristocracy lived and functioned, and then shaping their behaviour according to its laws. Ideally, there was no separation between the public and the private sphere. The same rules of behaviour applied to both. Bismarck recalled how, when he was ambassador in St. Petersburg during the 1860s, the Russian chancellor Alexander Gorchakov passed him unopened despatches from Russian embassies abroad, telling his guest: ‘Read them. If there is something you should not know you will forget it’.50 In the late 19th century, Bismarck’s triumphs seemed to justify his opinion that ‘when you wish to gain a certain object your principles cross your path and defeat your aim’51; the discourse of honour lost some ground in the professional sphere, but it still functioned as a social norm because it preserved the aristocratic world and prevented a collapse of their sense of identity. When the Duke de Gramont, Napoleon III’s foreign minister, tried to clear his professional reputation after the disastrous Franco-Prussian War, he claimed that in public as in private he had always retained his integrity and acted ‘in good faith and loyally’.52 His social standing and his professional reputation were inseparable, and one could not survive without the other. A reputation for honour allowed them to establish the kind of trust without which they could not function professionally. ‘Let us then be what we seem [in order] to inspire respect’,53 a French ambassador urged his colleagues. This shared social and professional environment, as well as the special status of the pre-1914 diplomacy, made informal political interactions effective. The disadvantage of studying informal diplomacy is the frequent absence of records. Diplomats were honour-bound never to disclose the secrets they were trusted with. In 1854, on the eve of the Crimean War, the French emperor ­Napoleon III sent a secret messenger to Baden-Baden, where the Russian diplomat Prince A.M. Gorchakov was taking a cure. Napoleon offered the Russian emperor an alliance to partition the Ottoman Empire’s possessions in the Near East. Nicholas I turned the offer down, after which Napoleon III became a champion of Turkey and in coalition with Britain attacked Russia. It would have given the Russian government momentary satisfaction to expose Napoleon’s hypocrisy,

Introduction  7 but they did not make public his Baden-Baden initiative because ‘if everyone begins to divulge past negotiations … then no government will feel safe and no diplomat will be trusted – diplomatic exchanges will cease.’54 Gramont, aware of human frailties, particularly denied a diplomat’s right to reveal state secrets in order to defend his personal reputation: ‘An agent or an official must learn to accept with resignation that he might appear clumsy or frivolous; it matters little to the future of his country that his reputation as a man of talent should be ruined.’55 Sometimes diplomats’ reticence allowed policy-makers to look better in the eyes of future generations. The 1877–1878 war with Turkey was practically forced on the Russian government by domestic public opinion inflamed by accounts of Turkish atrocities. The costs of the war were exorbitant, and its diplomatic fruits were negligible. It was best forgotten. A Russian foreign ministry official reproached his colleague for publishing an essay on the Russian diplomacy in 1877–1878: The … acknowledgement of our policy’s humane motivations and of the absence of a premeditated and thought-through previous plan is a double-­ edged weapon. … Indeed, we had nothing prepared or calculated in advance, we were going with the flow. But is it not embarrassing to acknowledge it?56 For all these reasons diplomats were not supposed to keep records of their informal initiatives and omitted all mention of them in memoirs unless and until authorized by the ministry. It is a challenge, but an historian said that a document is merely solid sediment obtained by pouring various liquids into a bottle and then shaking it for a long time.57 If one puts together the events preceding and following a mysterious interview and the participants’ political objectives, and ‘shakes them for a long time’ one can make a good guess about the subjects of discussion and the agreements achieved. That is what journalists always did. The 19th-century press reports about ‘secret conversations’ at Franzensbad or Vichy show that political commentators were good at completing puzzles without the missing pieces. Today the missing pieces of the puzzle are not the political consequences of diplomatic interactions but rather their context and character, which go a long way to explain the outcomes. In restoring the setting of ‘spa diplomacy’, I found European newspapers, memoirs and travelogues extremely useful as reflections of the 19th-century mentality. British, Russian and U.S. archives yielded abundant information about the place of spas in European social and political life. Nineteenth-century fiction offers snapshots of the spa life and society. The ‘summer capitals of Europe’ are often viewed through the eyes of Russian diplomats. It is an unusual viewpoint, and the least known, despite the important Russian presence in 19th-century Europe. But all along French, Austrian, British, German, Swiss, Rumanian, Italian and Russian voices combine to describe the world of the 19th-century spas and diplomacy. Marina Soroka, 2016

8 Introduction

Notes 1 Stefan Zweig, Vcherashny mir (Moscow:Vagrius, 2004), kniga/6985/Stefan-tsveyg-vcherashniy-mir.php (accessed 2.12.2015), 46. 2 Zweig, 51. 3 K.D. Reynolds, Aristocratic Women and Political Society in Victorian Britain (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 12. 4 P.D. Kiselev to E.F. von Rahden, 8.6.1868, GA RF, 698–1–111, ll.2–3 ob. 5 Count Fedor Rostopchin to his wife, Comte A. de Ségur, Vie du comte Rostopchine: gouverneur de Moscou en 1812 (Paris: V. Retaux et fils, 1893), 214. 6 M.N. Chernyshova-Bezobrazova, Memoir (manuscript), BA, Chernyshova-­ Bezobrazova Papers, box 3, 191. 7 A. Wallon, La vie quotidienne dans les villes d’eau en 1850–1914 (Paris: Hachette, 1965), XII. 8 Michel Pinçon, Grand Fortunes: Dynasties of Wealth in France (New York: Algora Publishing, 1999), 247–249. 9 D. Lieven, The Aristocracy in Europe, 1815–1914 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), xvi. 10 Freeman’s Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser, 24.7.1833. 11 Comte de Beust, Trois quarts de siècle. Mémoires du Comte de Beust (Paris: L. ­Westhausser, 1888), 2:243. 12 Freeman’s Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser, 24.7.1833. 13 R. Giroult, Diplomatie europeénne et imperialismes. 1871–1914 (Paris: Masson, 2004 [1979]). 1:16. 14 Mai’ia K. Davis Cross, The European Diplomatic Corps. Diplomats and Inter­ national Cooperation from Westphalia to Maastricht (Houndsmills, Basingstoke, UK: ­Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 70. 15 A.A. Savinsky, Diary (manuscript), 10.12.1901, AVPRI, 340–834–20, 1:10. 16 E.J. Carter, ‘Breaking the Bank: Gambling Casinos, Finance Capitalism and German Unification’. Central European History 3, No, 2 (June 2006); Mark Braude. Making Monte Carlo: A History of Speculation and Spectacle (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015); David Clay Large, The Grand Spas of Central Europe (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015). 17 John K. Walton (ed.), Mineral Springs Resorts in Global Perspective: Spa Histories (New York: Routledge, 2016); Rudy Koshar, German Travel Cultures (Oxford: Berg, 2000); Marc Boyer, L’invention de la Côte d’Azur (Paris: Editions de l’Aube, 2002); A. Wallon, La vie quotidienne dans les villes d’eau en 1850–1914 (Paris: Hachette, 1965). 18 Large, 7. 19 For example, Lothar Höbelt and Thomas Otte (eds.), A Living Anachronism? European Diplomacy and the Habsburg Monarchy (Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 2010); F. Roy Bridge, From Sadowa to Sarajevo: The Foreign Policy of Austria-Hungary, 1866–1914 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972); John Charmley, Splendid Isolation? Britain, the Balance of Power and the Origins of the First World War (London: Faber & Faber, 2003); Pierre Milza, Les Relations internationales de 1871 à 1914 (Paris: Armand Collin, 1990); David Wetzel, A Duel of Giants: Bismarck, Napoleon III and the Origins of the Franco-Prussian War (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003); Winfried Baumgart, Europäisches Konzert und nationale Bewegung: internationale Beziehungen 1830–1878 (Munich: Ferdinand Schöningh, 1999). 20 M. Mössland and T. Riotte (eds.), The Diplomats’ World: A Cultural History of Diplomacy. 1815–1914 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008); William D. Godsey, Aristocratic Redoubt: The Austro-Hungarian Foreign Office on the Eve of the First World War (West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 1999).

Introduction  9 21 E.V. Dolgikh, K probleme mentaliteta administrativnoi elity pervoi poloviny XIX v. M.A Korf, D.N. Bludov (Moscow: Indrik 2006); Eric Mension-Rigau (ed.), L’ami du prince. Journal inédit d’Alfred de Gramont. 1892–1915 (Paris: Fayard, 2011); Michel Pinçon. Grand Fortunes: Dynasties of Wealth in France (New York: Algora Publishing, 1999); James Thompson, British Political Culture and the Idea of Public Opinion. 1867–1914 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013); Arno L. Mayer, Political Origins of the New Diplomacy, 1917–1918 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1959); Dominic Lieven, The Aristocracy in Europe. 1815–1914 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993). 22 Paul W. Schroeder, The Transformation of European Politics.1763–1848 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996) and Systems, Stability and Statecraft (New York: Palgrave, 2004); Keith Wilson, Problems and Possibilities. Exercises in Statesmanship 1814–1918 (Charleston, SC: Tempus, 2003); Irina S. Rybachonok, Zakat velikoi imperii (Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2012; V. Degoev, Vneshnaia politika Rossii i mezhdunarodnye sistemy 1700–1918 (Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2004); A.J. P.Taylor, The Struggle for Mastery in Europe, 1848–1918 (Oxford University Press, 1971). 23 Maartje Abbenhuis, An Age of Neutrals. Great Powers Politics 1814–1914 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 2. 24 Grace Brockington (ed.), Internationalism and the Arts in Britain and Europe at the Fin de Siècle (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2009). 25 James Thompson, British Political Culture and the Idea of Public Opinion. 1867–1914 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013). 26 For example, Keith Neilson and T.G. Otte, The Permanent Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, 1854–1946 (New York: Routledge, 2009); Charles Zorgbibe, Delcassé: Le grand ministre des affaires etrangères de la IIIe République (Paris: Editions Olbia, 2001) and his Metternich: le séducteur diplomate (Paris: Editions de Fallois, 2009); Michael Hughes, Diplomacy Before the Russian Revolution: Britain, Russia and the Old Diplomacy, 1894–1917 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000); Agatha Ramm, Sir Robert Morier, Envoy and Ambassador in the Age of Imperialism, 1876–1893 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973); and the British classic by Harold Nicolson, Sir Arthur Nicolson, Bart., First Lord Carnock: A Study in the Old Diplomacy (London: Constable & Co., 1930). 27 Alfred J. Rieber, ‘Historiography of Imperial Russian Foreign Policy’, Imperial ­Russian Foreign Policy (ed. Hugh Ragsdale) (New York: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 1993), 413. 28 T.G. Otte, July Crisis: The World’s Descent into War, Summer 1914 (New York: CUP, 2014), 506. 29 P.G. Robb, Review of Hardinge of Penshurst: A Study in the Old Diplomacy by Briton Cooper Busch, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, vol. 45, No. 1 (1982), 191–192. 30 Pierre Botkine, ‘Le Mauvais rève d’un diplomate. Conte fantastique’, Le Figaro, 20.10.1923, p. 2. 31 S. Korff, Russia’s Foreign Relations During the Last Half Century (New York: Macmillan, 1922), 204. 32 Patrick Joyce, ‘What Is the Social in Social History?’, Past and Present 206 (2010):228. 33 F. Guizot to Princess E. Kochubey, 15.9.1874, BA, Beloselskii-­Belozerskii Papers, Box 1. 34 S.D. Sazonov to D.I. Tolstoy, 7/20.8.1904, RGIA, 696–1–508, ll.3–4 ob. 35 Walter Bagehot, ‘The English Constitution’, The Fortnightly Review (1866), 3:673. 36 A. Savinsky to A.P. Iswolsky, April 1910, AVPRI, 340–7–6–59, ll.100–4 ob. 37 Markus Mössland and Torsten Riotte, The Diplomats’ World: A Cultural History of Diplomacy. 1815–1914 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 11. 38 Jules Cambon, The Diplomatist (London: Philip Allan, 1931), 69.

10 Introduction 39 S.D. Sazonov to D.I. Tolstoy, 7/20.8.1904, RGIA, 696–1–508, ll.3–4 ob. 40 Comte Henry d’Ideville, Journal d’un diplomate en Italie: notes intimes pour servir à l’histoire du 2nde empire (Paris: Hachette, 1877–1873), 1:42. 41 Ch. de Chambrun, L’esprit de la diplomatie (Paris: Correa, 1946), 73. 42 Sir Ernest Satow, An Austrian Diplomatist in the Fifties (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1908), 10. 43 A.K. Benckendorff to V.N. Lamsdorff, 3/16.1.1904, GARF, 568–1–326, 82 ob. 44 Satow, 14. 45 James Thompson, British Political Culture and the Idea of Public Opinion. 1867–1914 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 23. 46 Le duc de Gramont, La France et la Prusse avant la guerre (Paris: E. Dentu, 1871), 6. 47 Harold Nicolson, Diplomacy (London: Oxford University Press, 1963), 58. 48 Eric Mension-Rigau (ed.), L’ami du prince. Journal inédit d’Alfred de Gramont (1892–1915) (Paris: Fayard, 2011), 447. 49 A Soviet cultural historian, Lydia Ginzburg, believed that, to be effective, social taboos require a social culture, a social pressure and an extensive system of norms, values and ideals. They are meaningful only as long as a society has the power to punish the transgressors. Society of the 19th-century had the weapon of ostracism to enforce social norms. 50 Cited in R.I. Ivaniakov, Politicheskaia deiatelnost Bismarka v period prebyvania na postu poslannika v Sankt Peterburge (1859–1862) (PhD thesis), Pskov, 2008, 81. 51 Lord Augustus Loftus, The Diplomatic Reminiscences of Lord Augustus Loftus (London: Cassell & Company, 1892), 1:316. 52 Le duc de Gramont, 4. 53 Jules Cambon, 7. 54 Le duc de Gramont, 4. 55 Le duc de Gramont, 3. 56 Petr Kapnist to A. Jomini, 9/21.10.1880, BL, Egerton MS 3172, 64–65. 57 M. Pokrovsky, Krasny arkhiv (1922), 1:6.

Part I

Spa life

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1 Shrines–springs–spas

Whoever wishes to investigate medicine properly, should proceed thus: in the first place to consider the seasons of the year, and what effects each of them produces. … Then the winds, the hot and the cold, especially such as are common to all countries. … We must also consider the qualities of the waters, for as they differ from one another in taste and weight, so also do they differ much in their qualities. —Hippocrates, ‘On Airs, Waters and Places’

Throughout the 19th century, European aristocrats set aside a special time of the year, usually in midsummer and early fall, for spa cures that took between 10 days and 3 months. Spa cures relied on the combination of thermalism (mineral water treatments) or thalassotherapy (systematic use of seawater, sea products and shore climate),1 diet and rest to repair the patients’ health. The spa routine remained basically unchanged during the 19th century, despite the incorporation of innovative treatments: a tradition’s strength is in its invariability. Using water for treating disorders and diseases is one of humanity’s oldest traditions. Like many traditions, it is partly instinct – water is synonymous with life – and partly the eternal quest for simple solutions to complex problems. We are witnessing its latest form, the mania of constantly sipping water from a bottle. The ‘keep-drinking-bottled-water’ campaign capitalized on the long-standing reputation of mineral sources and the confusion between ‘mineral water’ and ‘water from a source’. Mineral water, which is bottled directly at the mineral source, has specific chemical ingredients that may be beneficial to human health; ‘water from a source’ is simply water that has passed sanitary control and contains no bacteria or toxic matter,2 like tap water. Bottling makes it more expensive but not more medicinal.

Balneology The first Europeans known to believe in the medical virtues of bathing – that is, the first balneologists – were the Greeks, followed by the Romans who built ‘bath complexes’, the famous thermae. Wherever the Romans went they looked for

14  Spa life rivers, lakes or springs and built temples on the sites. The Roman architect and civil engineer Marcus Vitruvius explained it by the fact that ‘for all the temples the most healthful areas are chosen and in these places, in which shrines are to be erected, there be adequate springs of water’.3 Water was only a component of the treatment. The Greek and Roman worshippers of the divine healer Asclepius made pilgrimages to his shrines in order to undergo healing by prayer, fasting and ceremony – all three being the wellknown staples of the spa method that under different guises survive to this day: meditation, relaxation, diet and the ritual of bathing and drinking waters. Our respect for the Romans’ judgment has never flagged. That is why the best marketing claim for a European watering place has always been: ‘known since Roman times’, and spa owners considered their success ensured if there were ruined Roman baths in the vicinity. The Middle Ages witnessed a tug of war between the humans’ instinctive striving for cleanliness as a synonym of physical and spiritual perfection, and their vague feeling that dirt also had its merits, spiritual and medical. The attachment to cleanliness found its reflection in the Christian ritual of baptism and sprinkling holy water, and in the doctors’ concern with keeping their patients’ wounds washed; the mistrust of hygiene brought about the medieval Christians’ rejection of bathing as a pagan rite and the use of organic matter in varying stages of decay for treating skin diseases and wounds. Eventually, the two trends were reconciled at spas where physicians prescribed water and mud baths.

Hydrotherapy The Catholic Church maintains that God heals through sacraments and natural elements, water being one of them. In the mid-18th century, the father of Evangelism, John Wesley, preached a healthy life based on simple gifts that God provided, water among them. So the spreading of holistic medicine in the 18th century met no opposition from the religious authorities. Romanticism contributed to its popularity by frequent references to the healing effect of the nature on wounded hearts and shattered souls. Hydrotherapy fitted well into the older German and Austrian tradition that used the heavily mineralized waters of the Central European sources. Copious amounts of water applied externally or taken internally were believed to be either a cure or a palliative for many diseases. The founding fathers of hydrotherapy were ‘instinctive healers’, unfamiliar with medicine (the schoolteacher Oertel, the peasant Preissnitz and Pastor Kneipp), who were inspired by observation of wounded or maimed animals that swam in the fresh water. The healers acquired a fanatical following.4 Unlike balneology, hydrotherapy used fresh water, which contains only a limited amount of minerals. While, strictly speaking, all water existing in nature contains a certain amount of gases and minerals, in medicine the difference between ‘fresh water’ and ‘mineral water’ is in the amount of mineral elements per litre.

Shrines–springs–spas  15 Hydrotherapy treated illnesses mainly by thermal stimulation – the external use of water at different temperatures and in different physical states (liquid, gaseous or ice). The logic was as follows: when an average healthy person is submerged into a bath at the temperature of 34–35° C, the body’s thermal balance remains undisturbed and the person feels neither hot nor cold. But if the patient takes a bath of either higher or lower temperature, it becomes stimulating: the body loses or acquires a certain amount of heat, and the balance is lost. In order to regain its thermal balance, the human body reacts by switching on various protective and compensatory mechanisms. The lower or higher the water temperature, the stronger the stimulation. Based on what resources they had, spas offered cure by mineral waters or sea baths, hydrotherapy; there were also wintering stations that relied on the effects of pure cold air and sunshine. At some locations physicians prescribed the dieting cures of milk, whey or grapes or combinations of the same with exercise, such as treatment of heart disease by walking to the top of a nearby hill, known as ‘Oertel’s terrain cure’.

Mineral waters are classified As doctors became convinced of the benefits of certain spring waters for specific health disorders, they analyzed the chemical composition of mineral waters. In the 19th century, waters were classified into multiple categories: simple or indifferent thermal waters; common salt or muriated waters; simple alkaline waters; muriated alkaline waters; sulphated alkaline waters; sulphated and muriated waters; iron or chalybeate waters; arsenical waters; sulphur waters; ‘earthy’ or calcareous waters; and other. As more chemical elements were identified, the classification expanded. The springs of Austrian Gastein and Töplitz had been popular long before the end of the 19th century when the phenomenon of radioactivity was discovered and their bracing waters were found to be mildly radioactive. The purpose of chemical analysis was threefold: to promote and improve their therapeutic use; to identify the impurities to be removed prior to treatments; and to manufacture artificial waters.5 Watering places were classified, too: the thermal springs of the French Pyrenées and Vosges Mountains, the warm waters of Wildbad, Schlangenbad and the French Plombières, as well as the cold waters of the German Homburg and Kreuznach, were recommended for digestive problems, and so were the effervescent waters of the Austrian Kissingen and Nauheim. The lighter waters of the Prussian Baden-Baden, Wiesbaden and the heavily saline waters of the Austrian Ischl were praised for improving appetite, cleaning the bowels and healing anemia, while the muriated waters (Marienbad, Kissingen and Homburg) were considered tonic because the chloride of sodium (common salt) that they contained was also part of the blood serum. The alkaline waters of the French Vichy were diuretic; they reduced appetite (and if not, diet helped) and expelled uric acid, the excess of which causes gout. They were also prescribed for depression: a young Russian diplomat posted to

16  Spa life Paris was sent to drink Vichy waters because he suffered from toska [nostalgia].6 Ischl, Kissingen and Homburg were recommended to those with chronic rheumatic problems and digestive tract disfunctions, as well as ulcers, scrofula, glandular enlargement, eczema and psoriasis (in which case they had to take 3 pints of water a day).

Seaside resorts: Thalassotherapy With the progress of the industrial age, doctors began to deal with new ailments and complaints in their patients. For the ‘victims of neurasthenia, of overwork and of brain worry’7 they prescribed sea voyages, including sea bathing. An 1880 British brochure The Ocean as a Health-Resort,8 explained the benefits of sea voyages, their organization, timing and the management of health at sea. But this was an extreme measure, taken mostly by patients suffering from severe nervous disorders and depression, who wanted to reduce social contacts to the minimum, as opposed to the spas and resorts on dry land. In the early 19th century, doctors began to recommend baths of warmed seawater because it contained practically all of the known minerals; next, coastal resorts became popular, largely thanks to the doctors persuading the people to take off their clothes for sea bathing. Bathing in the warm Mediterranean Sea took off in the early 19th century, but people who could not travel to Italy or France were content to bathe in the colder waters of the Baltic or North Sea. Belgian and Dutch beaches were quite popular, especially with the northerners who feared the effects of hot weather. The sea became ‘eroticized’ in the imagination of the 19th century, it was associated with the life à la Robinson Crusoe,9 away from civilization, and even more ‘in the bosom of nature’ than at an inland spa. In 1850, finding themselves in France in early fall, the future Prussian Field Marshal Count von Moltke and his wife decided to try sea bathing. They took the railway from Paris to Havre, crossing many bridges and viaducts and going through a tunnel, which the count admired as ‘gigantic works’, still relatively rare in those times. They stopped at Trouville, a small town in Normandy with excellent sandy beaches for bathing. Their room had a view of the sea, and in the morning they watched oyster fishers sail out of the pretty harbour. It rained often, but the visitors from the north thought that cold made the baths more bracing. They took a sea bath every morning at 10; had breakfast (a full meal, minus soup) at 11.30; went on excursions in the countryside and at 6.30 they dined.10 The seaside promised ‘marine cure’ of tuberculosis, neurasthenia, anemia and the after-effects of fatigue (surmenage) and accelerated recovery after a serious illness. Sea baths were considered tonic, and their therapeutic effect was enhanced if the beach was gravel rather than sand. Depending on the nature of a patient’s complaint, a physician could prescribe immersion, swimming or bains par affusion, that is, in sea foam, each no longer than 5 minutes. Later, the prescribed sequence also included callisthenics and energetic rubbing down with flannel or a glove of horse hair done by a bath establishment’s

Shrines–springs–spas  17 attendant. Sea baths were taken between 11 am and 6 pm, once a day, for up to 60 days. On the beach, ladies and gentlemen changed into bathing costumes in special cabins close to the water. The ladies stepped out wrapped in long white bathrobes and with narrow-rim straw hats on their heads, held on by tied ribbons under the chin. A maid led every lady to the water and took off her robe. The bathing costume was revealed: a black low-cut satin corsage, a short pleated skirt, black stockings and sandals. As the lady stepped into the waves, a female ‘bather’, bagneuse, received her into powerful arms and made her bob up and down in the waves for up to 20 minutes, depending on the doctor’s prescription. In other places, modesty prevented ladies from showing themselves to the public. In Lucca, the change rooms were built at the end of long wooden piers going far into the sea. and in the floor of each there was a ladder by which a bather descended unseen to the water. A tub of hot fresh water waited for every bather in the room after the swim.11 For children there were cabins mounted on big wheels and a man arrived with a horse and drew those little cabins into the breakers. We sat in the cabins and watched the waves rising around us. … There were professional bathers who took care of us children in the surf. They wore leather jackets over their bathing suits, and berets on their heads; they stood with their backs against the waves, holding us by the hands, and broke the force of the breakers before they reached us.12 Besides medical indications, there were additional considerations to choosing a seaside resort over an inland spa. In the 1870s, Bertal (graphic artist Charles

Figure 1.1  Bather posing for photo. Ostend. 1913. Wikimedia Commons.

18  Spa life Albert d’Arnoux) noticed that a certain category of women liked to fish on the seaside ‘because the sport allows them to show off all their assets: ankle-high boots with silver heels, embroidered silk stockings, airy lace petticoats and fashionable pantaloons. Quite often instead of a fish they catch a rich lover or a foolish teenager, or a bored foreign nobleman’.13 Well aware of this, a physician in Gyp’s novel Ces bons docteurs! prescribed waters to ladies because ‘my lady patients do everything to avoid a month or two in the country … to those who are well-proportioned I prescribe sea baths … it is enjoyable for them and for the onlookers … to all others I prescribe Luchon’,14 an inland resort where patients took baths unseen in individual cabins of a watering pavilion.

Treatments The uses of spring water went apace with the progress of medicine: Ambroise Paré, the father of European surgery, used cold water dressings in the 16th century; during the Napoleonic wars, surgeons sent officers with badly healing wounds to the waters.15 In the 19th century, a brief cold morning bath was supposed to increase resistance to chill. At spas, cold showers became routine for patients complaining of nervous fatigue or depression. At Vichy, patients were wrapped in sheets that had been soaked for hours in frigid mineral water, then covered with many blankets tied at feet and throat and left thus until they began to feel warm. Scotch showers (15 minutes of standing under freezing water) were routinely prescribed for infertile women16 and for patients with nervous disorders, to make them ‘snap out of it’, whatever ‘it’ may have been. Later seaside resorts, offering cold sea baths as preferred treatment, were included as a separate group, with their unique benefits that corresponded to the tastes of the society influenced by modern health reform movements and the emphasis on active and ‘natural lifestyle’. French physicians at Cannes prescribed year-round lightning sea baths to scrofulous children. The winter temperature in Cannes oscillated between 6 and 12° C in daytime and between –1 and 2° C at night, with the sea water temperature of 12–14° C, but even when light snow fell, the bathing continued – apparently, with remarkable results.17 Nevertheless, warm baths retained their place in spa treatments. So, depending on the temperature of the source at every spa, patients were offered minus baths ranging from very cold, at 0° C to cool, at 32° C, and plus baths, between warm (32° C) and very hot (49° C). Only patients with active circulation were allowed to take baths, and they were to get out of the bath if they felt a ‘second chill’.18 In a traditional Marienbad course, on the first three mornings an arthritic patient took 20-minute-long mineral water baths at 35–37° C. From the fourth day on, the doctor prescribed a 10-minute mud bath at 40° C, followed by a 10-minute mineral water bath at the temperature of 36° C. During the following five days, the patient returned to the establishment at noon to undergo a 2-minute cool shower, which on the sixth day was replaced by a 15- to 20-minute steam bath.

Shrines–springs–spas  19 After 25 days of this treatment, a patient was reported to be able to walk without pain, wear narrow shoes and raise her arms over her head.19 Turning around or slowing down a process which, everyone knew, ended by immobilizing the victim was a considerable – if temporary – success. To consolidate it, the patients were told to return to the spa year after year. Patients at all spas were warned about the risks of using the waters without medical supervision. The French spas in particular began by being highly ‘medicalized’.20 In the 1830s, it was illegal in France to bathe in springs without a prior physician’s consultation. Even more than others, French physicians demanded that the patients had to follow a regime consisting of hydrotherapy, diet and a prescribed amount of exercise.21

At the bathing establishment When Mme. de Sevigné in the times of Louis XIV the Sun King (1638–1715) took baths at Vichy, she was instructed to undress (to which she commented: ‘This state, with barely a fig leaf on, is rather humiliating’) and to put on a bonnet. She refused to take off her own bonnet because the one provided by the establishment was too unbecoming. A woman with a water hose in her hands then directed a jet of hot water on the parts of her body that Mme. de Sevigné indicated to her. The procedure took 30 minutes. All this time, on her demand, Mme. de Sevigné was accompanied by a physician who remained behind a curtain to hearten her by his presence.22 Two hundred years later, the patient did not tell the baigneur which part of his or her body to hose. As everything else at a spa, it was done strictly according to a doctor’s prescription. Otherwise the principle had not changed much. Taking off the bathrobe, the patient sat down on a stool; on a signal, the servant pressed a button and a spurt of hot water hit one’s back at the same time as a spurt of cold water attacked one’s kidneys. The patient was instructed to turn around gradually. By the end, water was coming from all sides. Initially it felt terrible, but the patients endured because the procedure was reputed to bring relief to all maladies. Then they moved on to inhalation rooms, where no one could stay longer than 15 minutes: the hot steam was so dense that it hurt.23 The prime time for baths was between 6 and 8 in the morning: one therefore did not have to get up too early and still could snatch some sleep after the bath and before breakfast.24 At the spas where the number of visitors exceeded the capacity of the baths, the earliest appointments for baths and douches were set for 2 or 3 in the morning. The Aix-les-Bains watering establishments were extremely busy, so every patient was given a card with the time of the next scheduled bath. Latecomers were not allowed in, even if they arrived a minute late because another appointment was slated every 20 minutes.25 At the first crack of dawn, the doors of all inns and rental lodgings of the beautiful village Mont-Dore opened to let out small grey booths, each carried by two porters in short vests and sailor caps. The porters jogged towards the buvette in a hurry. One of them filled a glass with water and passed it through a little opening

20  Spa life to the person sitting in the booth. Then the porters picked up the booth once again and hurried on: because of the tight schedule, everyone had to be at the bathing pavilion at their appointed time.26 Bathing establishments gradually became more and more luxurious, emulating the ideal, ancient Greek temples: some were decorated with Italian frescoes, usually flower chains, masks, or bathing and dancing plump cherubs. Underneath the frescoes there were sober-looking framed price-lists and the rules of the establishment, as well as lists of licensed physicians, helpful tips to bathers, maps of the vicinity and ‘Lost and Found’ announcements. There was also a blackboard where the administration daily entered the schedules and the treatments for every patron. There was a room for drying and heating bathrobes, towels and blankets to wrap the patients after the bath. Somewhere near the entrance there was a little window where bathers bought tickets for the establishment or cards for the drinking fountain.27 The Bourboule establishment offered seventy cabins with granite floors, wood-panelled walls in brown and red and enamel baths. The cabin had two swivel chairs, a stool, a mirror and a toilet table with the necessary accessories. Luxury cabins had rugs and every 20 minutes longues. As soon as the attendants knew that a certain cabin was assigned to a patient, they came to scrub the bath with tar soap and brush. When the patient came in, the bathtub was filled with mixed water from two local mineral sources to a temperature prescribed by the doctor. This done, the attendant left, to return 10 minutes later to add more hot water and after 20 minutes he came to arrange the shower: hot or cold, Scottish or steam baths, according to the note from the physician. When the attendant went away, the patient had nothing to do. Reading in the tub was difficult because of the wet hands, and in some spas doctors outright

Figure 1.2  K issingen. Prinz Luitpold Kurhaus. Korolevsky Kissingen, 1913. Courtesy of Gravure Department, Russian National Library.

Shrines–springs–spas  21 forbade it as stressful. Smoking was banned, although it was known that some patients bribed the attendants to turn a blind eye on the smuggled tobacco. Some patients might send the attendant to fetch them a glass of water from the fountain, and in order to prevent evaporation, water was brought in a glass overturned on a saucer. For a douche a patient undressed; two women ‘douchers’ placed themselves on either side of him, each with a hose and for 20 minutes doused him all over with lukewarm water at a great force. When a knock on the door came, the women wrapped the patient first in a bath sheet without drying him and then in a woollen blanket. Sometimes, after the douche two masseurs worked on the patient’s body; then the patient was thrown into bouillon, steaming water, or was placed in a box with steam, with the head staying outside. Sometimes the patient put a hand or a leg into an orifice, and on the other side the limb would be treated by alternate hot and cold water. The whole cure could take from 10 to 15, to 20 or 25 days and up to 6 weeks or 3 months, with every two-three days of baths followed by a day’s break. A visitor to a spa recorded in his diary: ‘took my first bath and slept remarkably well’. The next day he wrote: I am perfectly tranquil here, no noise from neighbouring rooms, no acquaintances, it is a dream. I walk, I read, write much. Water is very curious: delightful, bluish, limpid, with no smell, but very strong. I can feel my veins working as soon as I get into the water, it is very tiring. … Water is very heavy on the stomach. I take baths of 35 minutes and will go to 45 and 50, but I already stopped drinking it, because it affected my stomach.28 It was not unusual for a patient to feel worse during the cure, but it was bravely endured. The young Princess Alix of Hesse, for example, wrote to her brother: ‘I have had far more headaches since I have taken … [the baths], but they say that that, from what one has been suffering, always gets stronger during the cure, & that one only feels the good after three or four weeks’.29 With few variations the same regime was followed in all continental spas.

Taking mineral waters internally Initially, the foul-smelling, bitter and murky mineral waters were only used for medicinal baths. By the end of the 18th century, physicians began to prescribe them internally, too. Gynaecologic symptoms were treated by a combination of baths, drinking water and pumping it into the vagina.30 In the absence of injections, the waters were the easiest vehicle for getting a medically indicated ingredient into the tissues.31 Intestinal lavages were prescribed for all sorts of internal disorders. The Plombières method recommended pumping into a patient 1–2 pints of mineral water. It differed from a common-or-garden enema in that it was to be administered in the course of 10–15 minutes, so that the waters would slowly

22  Spa life work their magic on the intestine. The evacuation was followed by ‘an immersion bath of warm water in which a stream of hotter water played from a large rose douche’, to stimulate abdominal circulation and intestinal movements. The prescribed course to treat constipation consisted of 10–12 douches. The sterner practitioners had doubts about the wisdom of pampering their hypochondriac patients in this way. British physicians, for example, thought that paying too much attention to the ‘lower bowel’ might sink a patient into an even more morbid state of mind. But they reluctantly conceded that ‘sometimes hypochondria is induced by the want of proper treatment of this despised organ’, and this was the rationale of the Plombières douche.32 Drinking mineral waters was recommended for improving ‘digestion and absorption in excretion and elimination’.33 Spa visitors drank the smelly, murky, yellowish or greenish liquids, encouraged by the popular wisdom that painful or unpleasant remedies were the most effective ones. Water was taken at its natural temperature, neither cooled nor heated. Doctors warned that initially drinking waters required an effort because they caused a sensation of dryness in the mouth and a burning ache in the stomach. The first four to six days of a cure were trying, for the organism responded to the invasion of mineral salts and trace metals by ‘excitement’: accelerated blood circulation, nausea, insomnia and, in extreme cases, fever. If the side effects were severe, the patient was ordered to interrupt the procedures for two days, take a purgative and resume the cure. It was not unusual to develop skin rash, or even boils on the parts of the body that were bathed in the water. These effects were expected to disappear soon. By the end of the third week, the patients would again feel nervous, nauseous and stressed because they reached the point of ‘saturation’; at this moment, the doctor decided whether to continue with the cure or stop.

Figure 1.3  Carlsbad. Buvette. Courtesy of Gravure Department, Russian National Library.

Shrines–springs–spas  23 Until late in the 19th century, it was strictly forbidden to drink any mineral waters or bathe, even in the usual running water for six to eight weeks after a cure. Visitors were strongly urged not to listen to amateur advice and to strictly follow their doctor’s prescriptions. A woman who disobeyed her Carlsbad physician’s recommendations about drinking waters was at once taken with an inflammation of the lower abdomen. As she obstinately continued drinking waters and had a relapse, the doctor announced in public that he could no longer respond for her well-being.34 Weight loss was a spa specialty that evolved after mineral waters began to be taken internally. Dr. Schindler,35 a celebrated Marienbad specialist, made it clear that only his method combined with Marienbad waters could have this effect: a woman who weighed 205 pounds lost only 5 pounds in the neighbouring Carlsbad but became 58 pounds lighter after a seven-week cure in Marienbad.36 Dr. Schindler cited as his success the case of a 24-year-old man who weighed 298 pounds, with a belly circumference of 1 metre 42 centimeters. In six weeks he lost 60 pounds, and later, 40 pounds more. Dr. Schindler attributed obesity to too much starchy and sugary food and to lack of outdoor exercise. His patients were allowed 6–7 hours of sleep, small but frequent meals and a moderate amount of sex because ‘deprivation of sex stimulates obesity’. Obese patients, Schindler thought, did not receive sufficient oxygen through breathing, so they dressed in loose and light clothes in order to let their skin breathe.37 His other suggestion was that the obese, after bathing, should be rubbed down with a rough cloth or horse hair glove and then with oil. All of the above recommendations were complemented by walking and drinking the waters from Marienbad sources, which had a laxative effect, to ‘tonify’ the digestive system.38 The patients needed to practise sports which exercised all their muscles: riding, swimming, hunting, billiards or gymnastics. Following the cure, his patients wore a rubber bandage for a year, to support their distended stomachs.

A day at a spa In the 17th century, Mme. de Sevigné described a day in Vichy. At six in the morning, all the guests gathered at the fountain. All drank water and made faces because hot water smelled strongly of sulfur. They walked, strolled, went to mass, returned, eliminated the waters and all the conversation centered on the success or failure of the elimination and excretion. (This was one topic that was gone from polite conversation in the nineteenth century.) Around the fountain, local girls made music on flutes, and gypsy fortune tellers circulated in the crowd. At noon the crowd dispersed. At 5 in the evening, everyone went on excursions in the vicinity. At 7 they ate a light supper and at 10 they went to bed.39 In the 19th century, those who took baths first thing in the morning had to have at least half an hour of absolute repose after the bath. Two porters placed one

24  Spa life in a palanquin with muslin curtains to carry across the town to one’s hotel and deposit on the bed. Almost at once a nurse arrived. She unswathed the patient, helped to put on the patient’s nightshirt and left the exhausted invalid to sleep till breakfast at half past 9. This ritual gave rise to many jokes and to the popular legend about a daredevil who bribed the porters to make a mistake and deposit him after the bath in the bed of a lady that he fancied. Afterwards the patients could have breakfast followed by a gentle stroll. Afternoon treatments took at least 2 hours: from the moment the patients began to undress to the moment when the attendants dried them and carried them back to their hotels in bath chairs. Then they were to rest in silence – and, therefore, in solitude. The amusements took place in the evening, although the orchestras were playing all day long. The spa guests could listen to the music – not sitting down but strolling. Those who were seriously ill would do so in isolation, in order not to expend energy on talking, but others found company. At Vichy the patients who came to drink the waters had to walk to the drinking fountain, the buvette, at 6 in the morning; during 45 minutes, they took 6–8 glasses of water while chatting and strolling around. At 9 doctors prescribed reading newspapers and letter writing; at 10 the hotels served breakfast. From 11 am till 2 pm, the people played whist or domino; ladies did embroidery. Two o’clock was the time for a toilette generale, because at 3 pm everyone went on an excursion to the springs. Between 3.30 and 4.30, the patients listened to music in the park.40 At 5 pm, if the physician thought it necessary, the patients returned to the fountain for another dose of water. Some physicians forbade their patients to go out after the sunset.

Figure 1.4  Adolf Menzel, “Brunnenpromenade in Kissingen”, 1891. Wikimedia Commons.

Shrines–springs–spas  25 The evening meal took place between 5 and 6 in the evening, either in company or alone in their room, depending on their state of health. If their doctors allowed it, after 6 the guests were free to listen to the band or attend balls at the casino. In Vichy, there was at least one weekly concert in summer, but the doctors dissuaded their patients from going.41 Between 10 and 11 pm everyone went to bed. The patients who suffered from nerves followed the same regime but were told to avoid company. ‘I take baths and I drink whey in the mornings. I lie in bed between 11 and 2, I dine alone. A stroll helps pass the time till the evening and before I go to bed I am condemned to an hour of boredom to calm my nerves’,42 a patient wrote from the Austrian Ischl. Knowing that everyone followed the same routine helped the guests to go through the unpleasant experiences of drinking waters, sitting in cold water or being mercilessly hosed down in the douches. Constant attention from the baths’ attendants and physicians was also reassuring, at least to some curists. The Russian writer Anton Chekhov (1860–1904) went to German spas when he was in the final stages of tuberculosis. As a physician, he knew that he was incurable and looked at the spa routine rather skeptically. He wrote from Badenweiler: Inside and outside not a sound to be heard; only at 7 am and 12 noon music plays in the park. The place is expensive but very talentless. I cannot fathom a drop of talent, not a drop of good taste in anything, but orderliness and honesty are in excess. … German doctors turned my life upside down: at 7 am I take tea in bed – for some reason it has to be in bed; at 7 1/2 a sort of a German masseur comes and rubs me down with water, and it turns out quite pleasant. Then I have to stay in bed for a while, then get up and at 8 I must drink acorn cocoa and eat an enormous quantity of butter. At 10, [I have] an extremely flavourful and aromatic pureed porridge, quite unlike ours. [It is followed by] fresh air, sunshine, reading newspapers. Lunch is at 1 pm and I only eat what Olga [his wife] chooses for me on my German doctor’s instructions. At 4 pm, [I drink] cocoa again, at 7 [I have] dinner. A cup of wild strawberry tisane is brought before bed – to induce sleep. All this has much of quackery in it, but also has much good and truly useful, e.g. porridge.43

A view from downstairs Not infrequently, servants ridiculed the regimes which their masters and mistresses followed. From their point of view, all this was wealthy idlers’ folly that would not cure their imaginary maladies and would make the real ones worse. Thus, a waiter explained, a millionaire who got up at 5 in the morning to be at his bath at 6 and then followed up with a douche, a massage and a visit to the water fountain, could barely keep on his feet by the time he arrived at the restaurant for breakfast. A lady who did not wish to abide by the rule that she had to get up and walk to the water fountain in the morning sent her maid for it at 6 in the morning. When

26  Spa life the maid had had enough, she switched on her creativity: she filled the mug with tap water in the hotel kitchen and added some table salt to it. She claimed that her mistress improved thanks to this ‘mineral water’. Similarly, a valet, out of pity for his master who was getting worse and worse from drinking the mineral water, began to bring him tap water mixed with baking soda and also thought that the effect was excellent.44

Exercise From early days ‘exercise, pleasant views, amusements and distancing from serious affairs’45 were the staples of a spa cure, as much as thermal baths and drinking of the waters. Initially, water drinkers chose whether to walk or to be carried in palanquins to the fountain or to the baths. As the 19th century was nearing its end, medicine began to insist on the patients’ doing physical exercise in the form most suitable to each individual case. Walking to the fountain in order to drink the water became obligatory – a minimum that even the most obstinate patients had to do. Music formed part of the exercise routine. Early in the morning the musicians took their places near the main alley and performed the first, loud, piece which served as a wake-up call for the guests. They played in the morning and in late afternoon for the enjoyment of the water-drinking public and also to help digestion. After sipping a glass of water, the curists were to take a 15-minute walking interval, and the music helped them to keep a rhythm prescribed by the doctors: 75–80 steps/minute was the Pyrmont norm.46 The tradition of rhythmic walks as the most therapeutic became sacred: when two Russian gentlemen took a walk at a spa in 1910, the little son of one of them, the future writer Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977), wanted to join. His father’s elderly companion said: ‘Come with us by all means, but do not chase butterflies, child. It spoils the rhythm of the walk’.47 Donkey rides or driving in a cart pulled by donkeys – a slower and less strenuous activity than horseback riding – were also recommended. Here the main advantage was being outdoors and breathing pure air. Pure air was tied to lung health, and at the end of the century a woman who had fallen off her horse during a hunt and had been spitting blood was at once sent to Gastein to breathe the mountain air.48 Her asthmatic sister joined her there. Despite the temperature of 5° C and constant rain and snow, the sisters enjoyed their stay, felt that it had done them a tremendous good because ‘it is not air, it is champagne that one breathes’, and although the asthmatic sister was still coughing, she believed that ‘apart from the asthma which is worse, she is feeling stronger’.49 Spa physicians constantly searched for new forms of exercise that would be both effective and entertaining. As soon as bicycling became fashionable at the dawn of the 20th century, a Marienbad practitioner recommended it in a brochure La velocipedie dans les cas d’insuffisance cardiaque.50

Shrines–springs–spas  27

Spa diet In the earlier days, spa visitors had to eat what the innkeepers offered, the usual local fare. Doctors might only recommend them to eat less of it. In the 1820s, a visitor to Aix-les-Bains observed that the visitors early in the morning went to drink their waters, then, according to the French custom, they gathered at 10 am to gorge themselves on meat and other heavy food, unlike the German spas, where patients are always half-starved.51 By the end of the 19th century, spa doctors turned their attention to the matter of the most appropriate diets. Many spa restaurants offered special menus, which were scoffed at by the waiters, who thought that they ate better in the pantry than the dieting guests at the restaurants: ‘disgusting mashed peas, tisanes, diluted or full strength mineral waters and warm drinks after every meal!’52 The physician-approved diet offered at French spa restaurants consisted of a breakfast of tea or coffee and bread and butter; a midday lunch of eggs, fish and broiled steak or cutlets followed by cheese and strawberries, and a 6 o’clock table d’hôte dinner. The drawback was that it was hard to maintain a diet at a fashionable spa because people came accompanied by their family and friends,53 and had meals with them. Even later, it was typical of the largest and most popular spas: the guests on a diet were outnumbered by those who flocked there to enjoy themselves and imposed their demands on the place, so restaurants also provided the usual menus and there was no lack of cafés, like the Hugenin’s in Lucerne, which served meringues with champagne frappé, and Rumpelmayer’s in Cannes, Nice, Monte-­Carlo and Aix-les-Bains, famous for its bonbons, chocolate bombes and pastry. The Grand Hotel at the Swiss Vevey appealed to those who were less anxious about medical treatment than about pleasures of the flesh and promised them comfort, excellent food and exclusive vintage wines. Restaurants at fashionable resorts, like Monaco, did everything to maintain their fame for exclusive and exquisite meals. In 1896, the newly wed Duchess of Marlborough was surprised at the importance food had suddenly assumed when they came to Monte Carlo. Her husband explained: ‘Considering’, I was told, ‘that it is the only pleasure one can count on having three times a day every day of one’s life, a well-ordered meal is of prime importance.’ We seemed to spend hours discussing the merit of a dish or the bouquet of a vintage. The maître d’hôtel had become an important person to whom at meals most of my husband’s conversation was addressed.54 Some spas, like the serious Kissingen, provided only table-d’hôte dinners, although there were also dinners à la carte. Table-d’hôte was one meal cooked for

28  Spa life all the guests at an inn, who ate at the same time and shared the tables. The guests of the Grand Hotel Montbrun in Vichy had access to table d’hôte from 10 am until 5.30 pm, and those walking in from the street were also welcome.55 It was not to everyone’s liking: ‘All this chewing and swallowing by the old and the young, good-looking and ugly men, women and children is very unappealing. … And unceasing general chatter is also unbearable’.56 Room service was offered for breakfasts and dinners. It was a must for the really ill persons and those who wanted a less hectic lifestyle in the crowded places, like Wiesbaden or Baden-Baden. Those who came with specific complaints and wanted a thorough cure were subjected to various diets, excluding one or another group of products. The Russian ambassador to Turkey, prior to setting out for Constantinople, stopped in Baden-Baden to take a purging ‘herbal and milk’ diet treatment, prescribed by his ‘oracle’ of a physician.57 As a rule, doctors banned fresh fruit and ­vegetables – ­perhaps because they unnecessarily added to the laxative effect of the mineral waters. In the early 1900s Countess Olga Hohenfelsen came to Carlsbad with a list of questions prepared beforehand. She asked her physician whether she needed to have ‘a waterless and saltless day after a milk diet day’; what foods she should avoid during the treatment and what she could drink. The doctor warned her against butter, cheese, foie gras, lobsters and mayonnaise but allowed her to drink Bordeaux. He also recommended that she should abstain from all fruit, except grapes and bananas.58 The above gives a fair idea of the menu of spa restaurants, which had two functions, to feed customers on diets and to provide the clients ‘with luxurious surroundings, great wines, rare delicacies and all the refinements of the culinary art’.59 French cuisine, which reigned supreme in Europe, triumphed at resorts as it had in all European large cities. Chefs at the fashionable resorts invented ‘therapeutic’ treats for the dieting customers, like ‘Carlsbad lemonade’ or ‘Carlsbad waffles’ that people enjoyed without feeling guilty.

Healing by beauty Physicians believed that the therapeutic effect of mineral waters on their patients was enhanced by a beautiful landscape. It was certainly easier to induce people to take long walks if the surroundings looked inviting, and all spas happened to be in very pretty spots. There were exceptions, like the solitary rugged landscapes of the German Wildbad, but for optimists these were a confirmation of the local waters’ effectiveness. A St. Petersburg lady who went to Wildbad was intimidated by the environment. Her friend consoled her: Judging by what you told me about the sources’ grim and savage aspect, I will easily believe that they are effective; … they must be quite beneficial, since it is obviously not a place where patients are sent to enjoy themselves.60 Thanks to Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his followers after the 18th century, naturalness became the central virtue of a human being, and it was reflected and

Shrines–springs–spas  29

Figure 1.5  Richard Pűttner. Wildbad Gastein (1885). Wikimedia Commons.

enhanced by living in an unspoilt natural environment. From there it was one step to affirming that ‘natural environment’ helped bring back the emotional and physical balance lost by the urban dwellers who sought spa cures. It was the antithesis of the chaotic and polluted city of the early industrial era. In the era of the industrial revolution cities became dirtier, slums expanded and summer heat made the air particularly bad: the smells increased. It was the time for cholera outbreaks in cities. People craved to be in the midst of clean unpolluted nature. A St. Petersburg resident wrote from Biarritz: ‘As usual the beneficial air works on me. Ten days – and already I look a different person’.61 Invalids wanted beautiful sights to distract them from morbid thoughts: ‘We are afraid of looking inside ourselves, and that is why we are comforted by, external things’,62 as a 19th-century traveller reflected. A woman who was brought to the Riviera in the last stages of tuberculosis, was charmed by the landscape in late November: ‘one sees on the mountain slopes growing wild the plants that we

30  Spa life cultivate in our gardens … the air is filled with a thousand perfumes; then there are umbrella-shaped pine-trees of a brilliant green.’ The road to Cannes passed through the mountains above Nice, and as the dying young woman looked to the right she saw the sea, and to the left orange groves, above them dark-green forests on the mountain slope and still higher, snow-covered mountain tops sparkling in sunshine,63 and momentarily felt buoyed. November, one of the drearier winter months in northern and Central Europe, was magic in Cannes, as another guest, Jules Ferry, wrote of a sun from which at times one has to hide; a perfect azure in the sky and on the sea. The temperature is remarkably stable and it does not drop for an instant, except for the moments when the sun hides behind the peaks of l’Esterel, in the orange-red glow and Aurore’s rockets. I have not felt such pleasure of living for a long time.64 He admired the Riviera. At Christmas all the local fields, all the gardens, all the groves, celebrate the feast of roses. At eight in the morning, one has to open a white umbrella, that’s how hot the sun is on the Croisette, and if it did not hide its magic lamp behind the dented peaks of l’Esterel by four o’clock, we would believe in eternal summer.65 In December, he praised the ‘warmest and the most melodious of all beaches’ and ‘the nature which takes its coquetry so far as to make roses bloom at the very moment when the mountains on the horizon are crowned with snow. The pleasure that northerners derive from these contrasts is endless’.66 A visitor from the Russian north wrote about Nice: One wakes up at dawn and sees the sun climbing up on one’s left, from behind the mountains that stand out sharply against the silvery blue sky. … By noon the sun is opposite my window. It is getting hot, but the air is not scorching, a gentle breeze carries freshness from the sea. Everything appears asleep. The boulevard is deserted except for two or three locals who are nodding on the bench. … In the evening everything looks black or dark blue, and on the surface of the sea moonlight creates an illusion of a broad shining path, or an enormous fish with diamond scales.67 People who, like young Helmuth von Moltke would climb a steep mountain to enjoy a view of the sunset, prized the natural beauty of Pyrmont, its ‘broad hilly landscape’, tall trees and magnificent avenues of limes,68 above the healing properties of the waters. ‘It rained in the morning, then the sun came out, then the sky became overcast again. The air is pleasantly cool and I feel well,’ an elderly visitor to BadenBaden recorded gratefully, ‘The shift from Paris to all this green vegetation and

Shrines–springs–spas  31

Figure 1.6  Source Felix, La Bourboule. Wikimedia Commons.

mountain air at once made me forget about Paris. … Baden-Baden is a very pleasant place: wooded hills, many walking paths and a refreshing promenade on the plateau and in the hills’.69 Another visitor was captivated by the beauty of small French watering places, like Royat, La Bourboule and Mont-Dore. The little La Bourboule valley was like a green-lined nest in the midst of hills and mountains that sheltered it from harsh winds. One could easily spend a long time gazing at the mountains and the crystalline waterfalls running between the rocks to form streams in the valley. The ear was soothed by the sound of running water, the eye captivated by the light playing on the limpid surface of mountain streams.70 In the neighbouring Mont-Dore, the wild beauty of the mountains encircling the valley made one feel small and lost: ‘The soul has no thoughts, no energy any more’, one lived only through sensations.71 In a small seaside town at night, four Italian musicians played waltzes and Baroque pieces on the boulevard, while guests were strolling along the beach, listening to the music and to the whispering of the ocean at the low ebb. The yellow, red and blue lights of lighthouses were blinking in the distance, street lights left in semidarkness the lacy wrought-iron balconies of the mansions on the sea front.72 An 1873 British guide book for Biarritz and Basque country used a generally matter-of-fact style but became poetic when it came to a resort, ‘set on a cliff of the Bay of Biscay’: Capriciously and irregularly built, the houses look as if they had fallen from the sky, the streets running up and down, right and left, but at almost every step letting you catch glimpses of the wild and blue ocean between

32  Spa life two houses or above them. … The walls are so white, that in summer their glare is as dazzling as snow. No streets are paved, so there is no rattling of carriages, and you hear no noise but the wind. … In clear weather the atmosphere is of such purity, that peaks fully 80 and 90 miles distant are seen to perfection. …Nothing can be grander than an autumn sunset on the Bay of Biscay, seen from the Biarritz cliffs; the tints are both so warm and so angry, that sea and land seem on fire, and the clouds are awful to look at.73 At the turn of the century, an elderly Russian newspaper magnate, Aleksei ­Sergeevich Suvorin, came to Biarritz hoping it would dispel his chronic depression. He took long solitary walks on the beach and was mesmerized by the stormy sea: Foamy waves hit the rocks, then run around them, collapse with thunderous noise, producing a mass of foam. In some spots the sea is whirling as if in a boiling cauldron, in others it runs and spreads, overrunning stone jetties, escaping into the caves from where cannon salvo-like noises are heard, and then a cloud of foam runs out, as a panicked army which met with an unconquerable obstacle. The sound of the sea is unique.74 Emotional, grateful descriptions of the natural beauties of the spas in letters, diaries and memoirs testify to the powerful effect the nature had on those who were capable of seeing it. The 19th century, right from its Romantic beginnings, revelled in natural beauty, so the doctors were right in thinking that the green hills and foamy waves were balm to their patients. In 1841, a Dr. Bayle even postulated that ‘Tisis can be cured by the effects of the nature, even when in an advanced stage’.75 In the late 19th century, throngs of visitors took away some of the charm of the natural setting of spas. Natural beauty lured so many tourists to Germany that its ecology was threatened.76 Motor cars became an undesirable novelty at the fashionable resorts. At the turn of the century, when the Riviera filled with cars, the veterans fondly remembered the times of peaceful excursions in carriages and cursed ‘these horrible automobiles that, like the devil, spread an infernal noise and a disgusting smell in their wake’.77

Healing by company It was important from the physicians’ point of view that their patients should find company because solitude produced dark thoughts. Curists found themselves among fellow-sufferers who understood, shared and sympathized with one another’s ailments. The example of others helped patients to stick to the prescribed regime.78 The life of spa patients was organized in such a way that people would never lack for company, if they wanted it: everyone had the same daily routines, so people met at the bathing establishments, and they walked together to the drinking

Shrines–springs–spas  33

Figure 1.7  Konversation Haus in Kissingen, 1909. Courtesy of Gravure Department, Russian National Library.

fountain, the famous buvette. Shady trees were planted along the road towards the source, so that the visitors would be protected from the sun. Sipping their glass of water, the people walked around the buvette or in the alleys leading from the large hotels to the buvette. One of the famous features of German spas, imitated by others, was the Konversation, a designated building or a salon where people gathered in order to chat. In Baden-Baden there was a ‘Russian tree’ in the Kurhaus park where Russians came to meet their countrymen.

Spa specialty: Happiness When chemists identified the useful elements in mineral waters’ makeup, they proceeded to copy them in artificial waters. Early in the 19th century, mineral salts – like Glauber salts from Marienbad – were produced by evaporation at the source and shipped for sale across Europe as ‘artificial mineral waters’. In the vicinity of Moscow, an enterprising physician built an imitation of a ‘spa’, where Muscovites could drink reconstituted mineral waters from European sources and take walks or slowly drive around a pond in a park. Those who could not afford the time or the money to travel to the waters came to such places. But neither doctors nor patients thought it was the same as going to a spa. French hydrologists, for example, believed that waters were therapeutically effective only at their source because they were chemically unstable.79 But the issue was not purely one of chemistry. Ailing people undertook a long and sometimes strenuous journey to a watering place because they believed that

34  Spa life the place where the waters originated mattered as much as the ‘chemistry’. The strict and minute prescriptions issued by spa physicians were reassuring to the patients: meticulous attention to detail implied that the method was scientifically based and effective. French spas, for example, were known as efficient though stern health temples, and those who came to them – even more than the visitors to the Central European ones – sought intensive treatment and purposeful and orderly leisure.80 The daily schedule set for the patients left them little time alone with their worries. Ideally, spa visitors functioned as machines: they slept, ate, digested, drank water and strolled. Nothing else interfered. A stay at a spa was a time when no concerns or worries were allowed, so that the body would be renewed, blood refreshed and the stomach stimulated. Doctors urged the curists to dedicate themselves entirely to the treatment. A Russian lady wrote to a friend: ‘Adieu, dear Prince, I do not dare ask you for a reply for I know that during a treatment at Carlsbad letter writing is banned’.81 A patient wrote: ‘I am not allowed at all to conduct active correspondence at Wildbad. The physician would like me not to write at all, claiming that baths unsettle the brain’.82 Patients approved of this regime. In 1877, a guest wrote from Vichy: ‘The vacuity of the place is probably one of the components of absolute rest which brings about healing. To complete the cure, they should have suppressed the newspapers’.83 In 1863, King William I of Prussia was taking a cure when the Crown Prince voiced his disagreement with the government’s policy in several public speeches. The king’s retinue had tried to keep the news from the king in order not to affect his cure, but Bismarck wrote to his wife: ‘Since the day I left Carlsbad, when a paper accidentally found its way into his hands with those things in it which we had carefully kept from him, his good humour seems to be gone.84 Bismarck regretted that the effect of the king’s cure would be diminished. Monotony, seen as stability, did not irk our ancestors as much as it does us. They were used to a slow, steady and regular flow of life and found reassurance in it. Every year people travelled to the same spas, expecting to return home in better shape, and the period of treatment prescribed by the physician was ­sacred. ­Russian Emperor Nicholas I (1796–1855) was concerned when his younger brother broke off his treatment to return home. He wrote: ‘[H]e is coming back without having completed his cure and it will have to be done all over again. … We have done our best to dissuade him from this intention’.85 People with limited time, like government officials, struggled to have spa cures factored into their working schedules. In 1880, a Russian ambassador to Turkey, Aleksandr Nelidov, commenting on the proposed changes in the operation of Russian embassies, wrote: It is a law that the head of a mission can leave his post for twenty-eight days every year, and he pays out of his pocket to the chargé d’affaires [who steps in for the period]. If it is more than twenty-eight days, then the ambassador loses half of his salary. It is very hard and unfair. Any serious [spa] cure plus the travel time takes six weeks.

Shrines–springs–spas  35 He offered the example of a Russian ambassador to Berlin. If he only had twenty-­ eight days of vacation and decided to go to the nearest Prussian spa, he would still have only 15 to 20 days for the cure itself. Nelidov continued: ‘It is hard on those who like me need annual cures. In all other countries [diplomats] have a legitimate leave of two months’.86 Even when hydrotherapy did not produce an immediate effect, physicians promised that the waters would eventually help, if the patient patiently waited for the Nachwirkung,87 the ‘after-effect’. Hope never flagged, rooted sometimes in the belief in the power of nature, or physicians’ art and God’s mercy. In the early 19th century, a gentleman who was determined to get the most out of Central Europe’s spas followed the physicians’ prescriptions: a Carlsbad cure was followed by one in Töplitz. His wife meanwhile was receiving treatment at Ems. Then they reunited at a third spa, Eger, and from there the couple went to Pyrmont. Considering the physical strain of travelling down the bumpy country roads in a coach rolling on wheels innocent of rubber tires, it was a notable endeavour. He was pleased with the Carlsbad cure and disappointed with Töplitz which ‘relaxed him’, but he relied on the doctors who assured him that the benign effects of the waters would show later.88 As medicine advanced, both the virtues and the limitations of hydrotherapy became more obvious to the practitioners, and the system of spa treatment increasingly focused on helping a patient to recover emotional balance. A spa cure took a patient out of the familiar routine. It cut him or her loose from all outside claims because most patients came to a spa alone, to immerse themselves in an entirely new world. After a family loss, a French statesman wrote his brother from Cannes: ‘What brought me here? A great need to find more solitude, not to hear myself complaining, to escape the friends who keep repeating the same condolences, to see something other than crowd’.89 Freedom was sought – and often found – at resorts. At the spas that specialized in treating hysteria and ‘over-excitement’, doctors recommended taking nervous patients out of the social circle in order to calm them down. In any case, one left behind ‘professional servitude and the burden of routine rules … the hatreds, the angers, the excessive desires and outsized ambitions, and even the legitimate concerns, which are the worst of all to live with’. A Frenchman praised German doctors of his time for dismissing all these ‘milk cures, iron cures, sulfur or salt cures and air cures’ in favour of a new treatment: ‘hotel cure’, which meant ‘a tranquility cure, cure by idleness and pure enjoyment of life, far from the place where one earns one’s bread in the sweat of his brow; a cure of absolute bliss, a paradise on earth cure.’ Guests were promised ‘complete oblivion of the trivial worries and business’.90 The growing success of seaside resorts, watering places and splendid hotels perched on top of snow-covered mountains was as much due to the healing powers of mineral waters, sea or mountain air as to the thirst for happiness,91 the dominant passion of late-19th-century society. Fleeting moments of bliss could be achieved when harmony was established between one’s emotions, the natural and the human environment, and when the hygiene of the body and soul became one.

36  Spa life

Notes 1 Roger H. Charlier and Marie-Claire P. Chaineaux, ‘The Healing Sea: A Sustainable Coastal Ocean Resource: Thalassotherapy’, Journal of Coastal Research 25 (2009), 4:838–839. 2 Nicolas Marty, ‘La Consommation des eaux emboutellées: entre alimentation, distinction et hygiène’, Vingtième Siècle. Revue d’histoire 91 (July–September 2006):25. 3 Cited in Gil H. Renberg, ‘Public and Private Places of Worship in the Cult of Asclepius at Rome’, Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome (2006/2007), 51/52:97. 4 Ian Bradley, ‘Keep Taking the Liquids’, in History Today 62 (January 2012), 1:44–46. 5 A. Wallon, La vie quotidienne dans les villes d’eaux in 1850–1914 (Paris: Hachette, 1965), 56. 6 A.O. Smirnova-Rosset, Dnevnik. Vospominania (Moscow: Nauka, 1989), 261. 7 Annual of the Universal Medical Sciences and Analytical Index: A Yearly Report of the Progress of the General Sanitary Sciences Throughout the World (Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company, 1892), 5:D-18. 8 William Samuel Wilson, The Ocean as a Health-Resort (London: J. & A. Churchill, 1880). 9 Pierre Guillaume, ‘Tuberculose et montagne. Naissance d’un mythe,’ Vingtième Siècle Revue d’Histoire 30 (April–June 1991), 30:32–39. 10 Count von Moltke to Augusta Burt, 30.9.1850, Helmuth von Moltke, Letters to His Wife and Other Relatives (ed. S. Whitman) (London: Paul, Trübner, 1896), 1:196–197. 11 Ida Poore, An Admiral’s Wife in the Making, 1860–1903 (London: Smith, Elder & Co, 1917), 196. 12 Serge Obolensky, One Man in His Time (New York: McDowell, Obolensky, 1958), 13. 13 Bertal, La Vie hors de chez soi (Comédie de notre temps). L’hiver – Le ­Printemps – L’été – l’automne (Paris: E. Plon et Cie, 1876), 522–523. 14 Gyp, Ces bons docteurs! (Paris: Calmann Levy, 1892), 9. 15 Marquis d’Eyragues, Mémoires pour mes fils (Falaise: E. Trolonge, 1875), 43. 16 Douglas Peter Mackaman, Leisure Settings (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 111. 17 Archives generales d’hydrologie, de climatologie, et de balneotherapie (Paris: s.n., 1896), 191–192. 18 R. Fortescue Fox, The Principles and Practice of Medical Hydrology, Being the Science of Treatment by Waters and Baths (London: University of London Press, 1913), 13–14. 19 Archives génerales d’hydrologie, de climatologie et de balneotherapie (Paris: s.n., 1896), 445. 20 George Weisz, ‘Spas, Mineral Waters and Hydrological Science in Twentieth-­Century France’, Isis 92 (September 2001), 3:453. 21 Mackaman, 101. 22 Louis Nadeau, Gergovia, le Mont-Dore et Royat: voyage en Auvergne (Paris: E. Dentu, 1862), 351–352. 23 Bertal, 474. 24 P-J. de Boisgrolau, Guide-roman au Mont-Dore: un épisode de la vie des eaux (Paris: Jon Aust, 1880), 14. 25 Freeman’s Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser, 10 July 1877. 26 Nadeau, 350. 27 Paul Eudel, Mes vingt et un jours à Bourboule (Niort: L. Clouzot, 1903), 28. 28 Eric Mension-Rigau, 283–284.

Shrines–springs–spas  37 29 Alix of Hesse to Ernst-Ludwig of Hesse, 16/28.6.1890, The Correspondence of the Empress Alexandra of Russia with Ernst Ludwig and Eleonore, Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Hesse 1878–1916 (Ed. Petra H. Kleinpenning) (Nijmegen, Netherlands: Books on Demand, 2010), 106. 30 C. Améry, Aix-la Chapelle et Borcette, manuel à l’usage des etrangers (Aix-la-Chapelle: Mayer, 1862), 141. 31 Fox, 25. 32 Charles W. Buckley, ‘The Rationale of the Plombières Douche,’ British Medical Journal 2, No. 2748 (August 30, 1913), 546–547. 33 Fox, 40–41. 34 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 1.8.1824, LPN (Paris: A. Lahure, 1904–11), 6:167–169. 35 C.S. Schindler, Traitement curatif et preservatif de l’obesité et de ses suites (1869). 36 Schindler, XI. 37 Schindler, 32. 38 Schindler, 36. 39 Nadeau, 352. 40 Wallon, 128. 41 Mackaman, 105–107. 42 Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna to Gen. Pavel Kiselev, 6/18.7.1846, IRLI RAN, 143–2–357, ll.7–11. 43 A. Chekhov to M. Chekhov, 16/29.6.1904, Collected works (Moscow: Pravda, 1985), 12:401. 44 Jean Lorrain, Hélie, garçon d’hôtel (Paris: P. Ollendorf, 1908), 116. 45 G. Reumont and P-J. Mondheim, Analyse des eaux sulfureuses d’Aix-la-Chapelle (Aix-la-Chapelle: l’Imprimerie de J-G. Beaufort, 1810), 49. 46 Heikke Lempa, “The Spa: Emotional Economy and Social Classes in Nineteenth-­ Century Pyrmont”. Central European History, 35, 1 (2002), 60. 47 V. Nabokov, Speak, Memory (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1966 [1947], 130. 48 Nathalie Hatzfeldt to A.K. Benckendorff, 2.6.1903, BA, Benckendorff Papers, Box 26. 49 Nathalie Hatzfeldt to A.K. Benckendorff, 10.7.1903, BA, Benckendorff Papers, Box 26. 50 Dr. Kisch, La velocipedie dans les cas d’insuffisance cardiaque (Marienbad: Clinique, 1901). 51 D.N. Sverbeev, Moi zapiski (Moscow: Nauka, 2014), 409. 52 Jean Lorrain, 102. 53 E.J. Titt, ‘Bath and Aix-les-Bains’, British Medical Journal 2, No. 1334 (July 24, 1889):159. 54 Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, The Glitter and the Gold (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1952), 62–63. 55 Guide offert à Mssrs. les étrangers par le proprietaire du Grand Hôtel Montbrun et du casino (Vichy: C. Bougarei, 1887). 56 A.G. Rubinstein, Korob myslei 33 (ePub). 57 A.P. Butenev to M.I. Buteneva, 29.6/11.7 1856, OR RGB, 607–2–16, ll.40–2 ob. 58 Rezhim lecheniia, GARF, 613–1–112, l.6. 59 Larousse gastronomique (New York: Clarkson Potter, 2001), 979. 60 Mme. Swetchine to Maria Nesselrode, 12.8.1847, Comte de Falloux (ed.) Lettres de madame Swetchine (Paris: Didier, 1873), 1:580–583. 61 Princess A. Obolenskaya to G.D. Xenia, 25.9.1893, GARF, 662–1–334, 6–9 ob. 62 Nadeau, 201. 63 Duchess of Württemberg to Queen Marie-Amélie, 18.11.1838, M. Kolb, Une correspondance inédite de la princesse Marie d’Orleans, duchesse de Württemberg publiée avec une introduction et des notes (Paris: Boivin, 1937), 278–279. 64 Jules Ferry to Charles Ferry, 03.11.1889, Lettres de Jules Ferry. 1846–1893 (Paris: Calmann-Levy Editeurs, 1914), 513–515.

38  Spa life 65 Jules Ferry to Paul Dupré, 22.11.1889, Lettres, 515. 66 Jules Ferry to M. Nordheim, 08.12, 1889, Lettres, 517. 67 Maria Bashkirtzeva, Dnevnik Marii Bashkirtzevoi,­ bashkirtseva.php (accessed on 1.12.2015), 42. 68 Count von Moltke to his fiancée, 23.8.1841, Count Helmuth von Moltke, 1:26–27. 69 A.S. Suvorin, Dnevnik Alekseia Sergeevicha Suvorina (London: Garnett Press, 2000), 172–173. 70 Nadeau, 201. 71 Nadeau, 207. 72 J-J. Weiss, Notes et impressions, choix de lettres (Paris: Calmann Levy, 1902), 95. 73 Count Henry Russell, Biarritz and Basque Countries (London: Stanford, 1873), 1–2. 74 Suvorin, 184. 75 Marc Boyer, L’invention de la Côte d’Azur (Paris: Editions de l’Aube, 2002), 55. 76 Rudy Koshar, German Travel Cultures (Oxford: Berg, 2000), 3. 77 Countess A.A. Tolstoy to Grand Duke Sergei, 25.4.1901, OR RGB, 253–14–21, ll.39–40 ob. 78 Schindler, 36. 79 George Weisz, ‘Spas, Mineral Waters and Hydrological Science in Twentieth-­Century France’, Isis 92 (3), September 2001 (451–483), 455. 80 Mackaman, 85. 81 Anna Tiutcheva to Petr Viazemsky, 3.5.1854, Rossiiskii arkhiv, 5:108–109. 82 M. Kalergis to her daughter, October 1868, Marie von Mouchanoff-Kalergis geb Grafin Nesselrode, in Briefen an ihre Tochter (Leipzig: Druck und Verlag von Breitkopf & Hartel, 1911), 206–207. 83 Jules Ferry to A.M. Risler-Kestner, Lettres, 238–239. 84 Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 24.7.1863, The Love Letters of Bismarck. Being His Letters to His Fiancée and Wife (1848–1889) (London: Harper, 1901), 384. 85 Nicholas I to Gen. Paskevich, 3/15.11.1836, N. Azarova (ed.), Nikolai I. Muzh. Otets. Imperator (Moscow: Slovo, 2000), 483–484. 86 A. Nelidov to K. Gubastov, 7/19.11.1880, IRLI RAN, 463–426, ll.122–7 ob. 87 G. Reumont, P-J. Mondheim, Analyse des eaux sulfureuses d’Aix-la-Chapelle ­(Aix-la-Chapelle: l’Imprimerie de J-G. Beaufort, 1810), 49. 88 A.A. Zakrevsky to P.D. Kiselev, 19.7.1822, Sbornik Rossiiskogo Istoricheskogo Obshchestva (Petersburg: Tipografiia IAN, 1868) 78:265. 89 Jules Ferry to Charles Ferry, 03.11.1889, Lettres de Jules Ferry, 513–515. 90 Weiss, 94. 91 Weiss, 93.

2 Therapy versus pleasure

Arrived. Began cures. Doctor promises full recovery. Weather disgusting, cold. Lodgings tolerable, food execrable. Details follow [by] letter. —Telegram from Töplitz, 18901

After chemical analyses of the waters had been carried out at all spas, resident pharmacists and physicians regularly brought out brochures advertising their sources and treatments. Over 200 spas promised to alleviate (doctors rarely used the word ‘heal’) various common chronic conditions: eczema, skin lesions and ulcers, rheumatism, liver and stomach disorders. By midcentury each of these ‘hospitals in a beautiful setting’ might receive between 3,000 and 8,000 visitors every year. There were also about two dozen fashionable spas that brought in ten times more people each. They offered therapy and pleasure, or even pleasure first and foremost, with therapy as an option. As the number of visitors to a fashionable spa rose, local businesses generated more revenue and could offer more luxuries and entertainments, luring even more visitors. Fashionable spas and resorts offered the opposite of what spa medicine had set out to do: intensive social activity instead of quiet relaxation and pampering instead of a strict regime. By the end of the century, despite being relatively few, they had shaped both the popular image of spas and visitors’ expectations regarding the lodgings, food and entertainment.

Therapy: Serious spas A visit to Salsomaggiore in Italy’s Parma region had originally been prescribed for treating scrofula and syphilis, but for the Russian aristocracy it became the place to treat arthritis and ischemia.2 Some devotees wanted to treat every ailment at Salsomaggiore: in 1907 relatives brought to the spa a teenage girl who lost hearing after a terrorist bomb exploded in her house. Russians were so numerous at Salsomaggiore that they went for long walks together and marched as a group to the inhalation room. Prior to entering the inhalation room, the patients put on white robes and covered their hair with kerchiefs. Awed visitors were instructed to leave all gold jewelry with a nurse for

40  Spa life safekeeping before going into the inhalation room because iodine vapours destroyed not only textiles, but also metals. In an enormous hall, amidst the thick, healing mist, a patient saw ‘ghosts in white robes, sitting on woven straw chairs or strolling.3 Salsomaggiore received 6,000 guests a year,4 a respectable but not striking number. It remained a peaceful, restful place, especially before the season began in May. Nauheim, some 30 km from Frankfurt-am-Main, was famous for its sources of ‘tonic’ water and signature methods of treatment. The visitors, who suffered from fatigue, liver and stomach disorders, were welcomed,5 but heart condition was Nauheim’s prime specialty. At the turn of the century, doctors began to recommend to cardiovascular patients much more exercise than had been considered prudent previously. Exercise had to be prescribed and carefully watched over by a physician, creating a steady flow of patients to certain spas. In the 1880s, Nauheim had a population of 3,000 and attracted 6,000 visitors a year. One of Nauheim’s treatments, the Oertel terrain method, was for a patient to take walks first on level ground, then up and down mild inclines, and gradually walk up steeper inclines. Walking was to be accompanied by regular breathing: make one step – inhale; make another step – exhale. This exercise could only be performed in special places, where all gradients were measured and labeled, and benches for resting were ample. Nauheim had all this, as well as a group of resident physicians trained in the Oertel method, which they prescribed in combination with diets and ‘Nauheim baths’. On the first two or three days, a patient was given a diluted brine bath of warm water from which all carbonic acid gas had evaporated. As the patient’s heart grew more resistant, the temperature of the bath was gradually reduced, its duration was prolonged and the concentration of gas was increased, until the physician prescribed the Sprudelstrom Bad, an effervescent current bath, which was considered the most potent.6 After the procedures, a Nauheim patient underwent Schott resistance exercises, another specialty. The patient, helped by a skilled assistant, had to go through a sequence of about 20 movements without repeating them and taking rest as required.7 French spas, usually modelled after the German ones, owed their reputation to their physicians. In 1811, Napoleon I decreed that all mineral sources and spas were state property, and French spas were placed under a strict official supervision. They took special pride in their scrupulous cleanliness and strict regimes. If Nauheim’s popularity was enhanced by its location within easy reach by railroad from most Central European cities, the French Royat on the contrary was appreciated for its remoteness, making it a favourite with the people who sought privacy, like the overstressed British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury. The small place – so playful and charming that one of its sources was called The Kiss – had an even climate beneficial to those who suffered from nervous disorders and hypertension. It offered beautiful views at every step; even gargling was done in a poetic spot – among flowerbeds and in the shade of trees.8 The neighbouring spas Mont-Dore and La Bourboule were famous for their garlic-smelling waters, which were strongly recommended to asthmatics. The visitors were so numerous that there were not enough seats for all in the inhalation room, and the flannel-­ robed patients marched in a circle.9

Therapy versus pleasure  41 The spas positioning themselves as hospitals in a beautiful setting further confirmed their therapeutic worthiness when they specified that their waters recommended for certain illnesses might ‘reawaken’ other. At Aix-les-Bains, physicians warned syphilitic patients that sulphurous waters would ‘reawaken’ the disease instead of healing it. Similarly, the springs of Eaux-Bonnes, another French spa, were promoted as ‘useful for all kinds of lesions, as long as they were only caused by Mars [war wounded]’ – discouraging the victims of Venus. German Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle for the French) was, on the contrary, recommended to those with sexually transmitted diseases. It became a sort of stigma to be known as a patient at ‘the wrong Aix’ (there was also the fashionable ­Aix-les-Bains), because it implied that the person was the unhappy victim of one of a host of painful problems treated at Aix-la-Chapelle: scurvy, a painful urological symptom for which French doctors had no name, but which the English called ‘gleet’; hemorrhoids, stomach parasites or syphilis.10 A Russian traveller wrote that he met Prince Henry of Battenberg at Aix-la-Chapelle and ‘initially thought that Venus rewarded him with the undesirable disease as he was here, but it turned out he was on his way to his regiment.’11 Although its waters were hailed, its reputation as a place of sadness and shame prevented Aix-la-Chapelle from becoming a fashionable resort. A journalist referred to it derisively as ‘a paradise for Congresses, blacklegs and the scorbutic’.12 All these spas had a solid medical reputation and a modest but steady influx of visitors. As a contemporary said, ‘The members of the smart set do not come to these waters to amuse themselves, but only when they need to’.13

Cinderella stories The discovery of a mineral spring in Ostend in 1856 raised this modest Belgian seaside town to the status of a luxury resort. It soon acquired a thalassotherapy centre, a bottling plant and a Grand Hotel des Thermes and received as many as 80,000 curists every year.14 The most elegant Austrian seaside resort, Abbazia (Istria), was also a former fishing port. ‘I see myself … clambering over wet black rocks at the seaside while … There are dimples in the rocks, full of tepid ­seawater … tiny sapphire pools. The place is of course Abbazia, on the Adriatic,’ wrote Vladimir Nabokov in the 1950s.15 A favourite of the Austrian imperial family, Abbazia attracted royalty, bankers and aristocracy from many Central European countries and gradually filled with neo-styled villas and palaces, whose charm attracted more visitors. In the park, the remains of a natural laurel grove were cut through by shady alleys and paths among flowers, agaves, camphor trees, jasmine bushes, palm and lemon trees. Abbazia quietly expanded until in 1907 its visitors outnumbered the fashionable Marienbad, Baden-Baden and Ischl.16 In the 1860s, the old spa Vichy competed in popularity with Aix-les-Bains: during the season it had all the noise and traffic of Paris. But after the fall of its main patron, Napoleon III, it emptied. In the 1880s, children still played ball and hoops under the shady trees in the large diamond-shaped square in the centre of the town. Twice daily music played in the park, but the public that gathered to listen was dressed in old-fashioned clothes. Only the locals attended Vichy horse

42  Spa life races, with few American, Mexican and English heiresses. There was nothing to do but drink the waters. But thanks to its medical personnel’s prestige and energy, Vichy successfully transformed itself into an all-European medical spa. Tens of thousands foreign patients came strictly for treatment and were not concerned about the absence of the smart set.17 At the turn of the century, Vichy was once again a top European spa.

Post-cure spas The Dutch Scheveningen and the Belgian Spa enjoyed a steady popularity as the places where people went after an intensive treatment at one of the ‘serious’ health stations. Scheveningen was a fishing port and village not far from the Dutch capital The Hague, and since the 18th century visitors had come there for fresh air and bathing in the sea. During the Napoleonic wars, fishing declined, and local authorities improved Scheveningen’s fortune by turning it into a resort. After the Restoration, the village became popular with North European aristocracy and royalty. Facilities were built with a view to attracting the highest social circles. In the 1830s and 1840s, it was one of the most fashionable seaside resorts in Europe. The Dutch queen Anna regularly came, as did her Russian and German relatives, followed by the nobility and the diplomats accredited in and around the Netherlands.18 Scheveningen’s sandy beach had a zone for fishing boats and drying sheds and another for bathing machines, beach chairs and elegant villas and hotels.19 The fishing village was one of the resort’s main tourist attractions; a resident doctor claimed that it had positive medical effects on the sick because watching the fishermen’s labour they forgot about their ailments.20 The charming Spa had hotels, but visitors often preferred to rent one of the pretty cottages that looked more English than French. Life in the modest, simple environment was agreeable, easy and sweet. The local casino, built in the late 18th century, was elegant and full of flowers and sculptures. The most famous source in the centre of Spa was called Pierre le Grand, after the Russian tsar Peter I, who visited Spa in 1717. The British upper class ‘discovered’ Spa soon after. At the end of the 19th century, three daily trains brought in thousands of Europeans, mostly Germans, Russians and British. Spa’s cold carbonated and ferruginous waters were recommended for treating anemia, nerves, gynecological disorders, as well as palpitations and hysterics.

Therapy and pleasure: The golden mean Various spas found the golden mean between ‘seriousness’ and fashion. The cold waters of the Austrian Marienbad were renowned for their diuretic and laxative properties. Mineral water and mud baths were considered unparalleled in treating amenorrhea, obesity, haemorrhoids and liver. Its neighbour Carlsbad, in a narrow valley surrounded by granite rocks and wooded hills, was said to sit on top of a volcano that kept underground waters constantly heated. Where the waters burst through the 1–1.5-m-thick ‘lid’, they rose into the air like fountains,

Therapy versus pleasure  43 with much noise and surrounded by a cloud of steam. Carlsbad water was recommended for liver, gall-bladder, urinary tract problems, haemorrhoids, obesity, gout, and malaria as well as for chronic indigestion, colitis, gastritis, and other ‘postalcoholic’ digestive problems. Marienbad and Carlsbad waters did not appeal solely to overweight and gastrointestinal patients. In the 1820s, a novelist described the crowd of aging coquettes who came to Carlsbad in search of their departed youth.21 Throughout the century, brochures with titles such as L‘Art de prolonger la vie, ou la Macrobiotique [The art of prolonging one’s life, or Macrobiotics]22 and La Vieillesse, moyens de la prévenir et de la combattre [Old age, means of preventing and fighting it]23 advertised the rejuvenating effect of Carlsbad treatments. Carlsbad, Marienbad, Franzensbad and the nearby Töplitz had been the meeting places of Central European aristocracy since the 18th century. Austrians, Hungarians, Russians, Poles, Germans, Danes and a few British and French filled the parks during the traditional morning strolls. Many guests made a point of lodging and having meals at the same places that their ancestors had favoured. Prince Esterhazy always took coffee in the Carlsbad Golden Elephant restaurant, at the same table where his father had sat in the 1820s, and the deferential restaurant owner had the prince’s coffee served in a cup bearing the Esterhazy coat of arms.24 Local casinos offered the usual choice of gambling or musical and theatrical productions. In 1840, the Carlsbad casino staged a play based on a fantastic novel by a Russian author, Aleksandr Pushkin, titled The Queen of Spades. The production must have been inspired by the Russian presence at the spa. The main character was a young man who sacrificed honour, love and, in the end, sanity, to a dream of winning a fortune by gambling. The choice of the subject and the venue – the gambling salon of the casino – spoke to the administration’s lack of complexes. The French Aix-les-Bains established a reputation as a health station for fashionable Parisians and cosmopolitan elite. It attracted some visitors by its first-class thermal baths and many more by its casino where guests sang, danced, laughed, gambled and flirted. In the town park, they drove in carriages around Lac de Bourget as they did in the Parisian Bois de Boulogne;25 the menu at the Grand Hotel was exactly like that in Paris restaurants. Ladies showed off their toilettes in the evening at concerts or balls which continued till one in the ­morning – ­much later than physicians recommended. Baccarat parties went on through the night, and in the morning the gamblers went for water treatments.26 Its reputation was: ‘one recovers there, if necessary. But one enjoys oneself always’.27

Modern comforts: Transportation There is an opinion that before the 1890s the main attractions of the spas had been hydrotherapy and pleasure and that later it was pleasure and consumption,28 but looking at the fashionable spas of the 1860s, one is inclined to move back the date when pleasure overtook therapy. The fruits of the industrial revolution

44  Spa life began to transform the spa experience, and people ceased to take for granted the inconveniences they would face to take a spa cure. In the early 19th century, travelling was fraught with risks and uncertainty, and in 1918 an old lady, describing the heart-rending farewell her father bade to his wife and children as they were starting on a long journey in the 1840s, said that no one could imagine any more what a trauma every separation was to loving hearts.29 After the 1840s, railroads and steamships increasingly replaced diligences, express coaches and post-haste in Central and Western Europe. Physicians prescribed travelling to spas by train: clanking and coal dust that settled on train passengers’ faces and clothing were preferable to the weeks of cold and rumble-tumble of horse-drawn coaches. When Grand Duchess Elena’s physician prescribed a three-month cure at the Austrian Ischl, she wrote from Berlin: ‘He forbade me all travelling by coach, at least whenever it is possible, and makes me take the road of Dresden and Prague where I find railways, and the Elbe where I can take a steamer’.30 Railroads made continental spas and resorts easily accessible. Sometimes spa casino owners financed railway construction,31 and travelling to spas was relatively inexpensive and speedy.32 In the 1840s, a Parisian dweller needed eight days to reach Marseilles, changing diligences three times and boats twice. In 1876, the same journey took 16 hours by train. A traveller leaving London by train in the morning reached Biarritz on the Bay of Biscay, at one in the morning the next day.33 Five daily trains connected Vichy with Paris; only two had thirdclass compartments, but they all had the first class, indicating who travelled the most to the spa. Special compartments for ‘Ladies Only’ on most trains were reassuring to unaccompanied women. Princes and princesses travelling incognito might have an entire car to themselves. Improved communication was not an absolute blessing: Telegraph, railroads and newspapers allow instant communication between all cities, and in the case of watering stations, they help maintain prices at the same level. If an inn-keeper in Royan used to let rooms for 6 francs a night, now that he knows in Deauville the average rate is ten times higher, he raises his rates.34

Spas at the dawn of the century During the Napoleonic Wars, a French officer came to the popular Barèges springs to treat his wounds and found a village of several log houses surrounded by mountains, woods and cascades.35 He lodged in one of the houses, took the baths and enjoyed the beautiful nature. The Austrian chancellor Prince von Metternich, who went to spas every summer, also took with great equanimity the conditions that he found there. In 1817, he enjoyed his stay in the modest facilities of Lucca. It was a resort known to the Romans as a place of sybaritic opulence, but in Metternich’s times it was a small Italian town, known better for its historic ruins than for its modern conveniences. He liked the pure air and the mild

Therapy versus pleasure  45 weather, and marvelled at the luxury of the bathing pavilion: ‘Every thing that back home would be made of wood, is here of the most beautiful Carrara marble’.36 As for the Spartan amenities of Lucca, Metternich wrote good-naturedly that ‘embarras de richesse is not excessive and that of choice does not present itself at all’, because no options were offered.37 At all spas Metternich lived in rented houses, walked to the source, ate whatever local restaurants served and in the evenings amused himself by inviting his acquaintances for a game of cards or a concert at his place. Even later in the century, entertainment at small French spas was mostly self-generated and had to fit in with the regime. In the daytime, people went on excursions. After supper they took a walk and assembled in the common room of the inn. They told stories; young people played ‘innocent games’ in a corner or danced. Sometimes an amateur or a touring professional showed card tricks. Everyone retired early on doctors’ orders or because the earliest baths might begin at three in the morning to accommodate all the visitors. At dawn the stomping of the porters carrying their clients up and down the stairs woke up the guests at an inn, but they took it in good stride.38 Despite its popularity, German Pyrmont also struck its guests as ‘modest’: the baths and the park were neat and well kept, but thriftiness reigned. An orchestra never failed to come and perform under the windows of every new visitor, but the guest was expected to pay for the serenade.39 A Russian family, the Sologubs, were attracted to Pyrmont mainly because their friends also came there. Princess Leonilla Wittgenstein, a Catholic Russian who lived in France, and Countess Avigdor from the Jewish banking dynasty Montefiore were the friends whom Countess Sologub always met at Pyrmont. They shared an interest in philosophy and spent much time at the spa discussing James Hinton’s bestselling books, Man and His Dwelling Place and later, The Mystery of Pain.40 Women of such interests did not pay particular attention to physical comforts and did not need entertainment.

Modern comforts: Grand hotels Spas changed following the appearance of a European railway network, when some spas began to receive between 10,000 and 70,000 guests during the season. Grand hotels emerged. Unlike village inns or rental houses, a grand hotel with its many rooms and enormous staff could not be shut in winter. It had to generate revenue year round, so spas and resorts planted the idea of year-round cures: the Grand Hotel de l’Universe at Aix-les-Bains, open year round, accepted boarders for long-term treatments. In 1866, the owner of a hotel in the Swiss Alps St Moritz bet with his last remaining British guests of the season that Engadine was better than the Riviera for spending winter. He promised to refund those who agreed to spend a trial winter at his hotel if they did not like the experience. To make their stay more attractive, he built a skeleton course (Cresta Run) for bobsleighs and imported curling from Scotland. Later, he also offered skijoring ­(skiing pulled by horse) and tobogganing.41 He succeeded: skiing holidays became a fashion

46  Spa life among the rich who looked for ways to spend their physical energy, and his hotel remained open in winter. The Grand Hotel, with its spacious ballrooms, sweeping staircases, and uniformed bellboys, aspired to ‘serious elegance’.42 Its public spaces were furnished and decorated to impress: there were large paintings in gilt frames, stained glass and frescoed ceilings, gilt furniture upholstered with Aubusson tapestry or Italian velvet, highly polished parquet floors and rugs. Its reading rooms had mahogany furniture with inlaid gilt bronze details and heavy embroidered curtains, shutting the world out.43 The epicentre of all activity was the vestibule and the dining room with frescoes, rugs and mahogany furniture. In the vestibule people waited for the evening meal. Grand hotels made restaurants respectable for women. Until the end of the 19th century, they did not eat in the common rooms of restaurants and only entered restaurant cabinets with their husbands, when a dinner with another married couple was arranged.44 The rules were eased when a woman was travelling. Between two trains, she could eat at a restaurant in the vicinity of the train station. Spa tables d’hôte and restaurants were another exception. Otherwise, hotels respected the traditional gender segregation: on the ground floor there was a ladies’ salon and a smoking room for gentlemen. Both were reception areas, for although suites had antechambers, it was more usual to meet one’s visitors in the vestibule. Next to the vestibule there usually was a gentlemen’s billiards, a reading room and a winter garden with tropical plants and armchairs and sofas. Heavy embroidered curtains in reading rooms shut the world out.45

Figure 2.1  Hotel Stephanie and park. Abbazia (1890), Wikimedia Commons.

Therapy versus pleasure  47 Grand hotels sheltered their privileged guests from a crowded and busy world46 at the same time as they offered a permanent connection to the outside world. Shops, cafes and post offices became fixtures of the ground floor, which in this way became a continuation of the street. Mail was delivered to the post office on the ground floor of the Vichy hotel Montbrun at 6.30 am, at noon, 4 pm and 8 pm. Telegraph worked between 7 am and 9 pm.47 All of this ran against the image of a spa hotel as a peaceful retreat. Grand hotel guests became used to modern plumbing, lifts, heated corridors and bright lighting – gas or electrical – in the corridors and in the suites. There were suites, but also rooms that were furnished as half-drawing-room and half-bedroom. Rooms were comfortably, if not always luxuriously, furnished – the luxury, for the most part, was on the exterior of the hotel.48 Curists stayed at spas for many weeks, and so they liked to give their hotel rooms a personal touch. In March 1897, Queen Victoria came for six weeks to Cimiez, in the Riviera. At the Hotel Excelsior Regina, the queen occupied 80 of the hotel’s 300 rooms. The rooms were partly furnished with pieces brought from Windsor. The drawing room was decorated with paintings rented from a local art dealer.49 In an Edwardian novel, a Russian lady who took a suite with ‘the usual brocade walls and gilt chairs’ at a Lucerne hotel transformed it to her taste. ‘There were masses of flowers- roses- big, white ones – tuberoses, lilies of the valley, gardenias, late violets.’ The lights were low and shaded and a great couch filled one side of the room beyond the fireplace. Such a couch! Covered with a tiger-skin and piled with pillows, all shades of rich purple velvet and silk, embroidered with silver and gold – unlike any pillows he had seen before even to their shapes. The whole thing was different and strange, and intoxicating.50 It was just the effect the lady must have had in mind when all these accessories to sin travelled with her across Europe.51 Architects understood that people entertained themselves by observing others, and so it was that the new hotels’ entrance and doors to the rooms were often placed in such a way that they could be observed from the atrium.52 But to their highest paying guests grand hotels offered maximum privacy. The suite that Empress Elisabeth of Austria took at the hotel on the Riviera was the only one on the ground floor of the hotel. An entrance hidden behind a red velvet curtain led from the hotel lobby into a corridor that took a visitor to the imperial suite. The bedroom was furnished in the ‘English style’, with a gilt copper bed under a mosquito net, a rosewood toilet table and a few gravures on the walls. On the empress’s request, several electrical bells were placed next to her bed. Every button had a different colour for every person of her suite that she might want to summon.53 In the planning of grand hotels, meticulous attention to protecting their guests’ privacy did not prevent occasional oversights. A French lady who took a suite with a bathroom in the Hotel Royal in Dinard, a fashionable Brittany seaside resort,

48  Spa life had a shock the first morning. After her maid had prepared the bath, laid out the towels, a bathrobe, a sponge and soap, the lady entered the bathroom and saw two male heads in the bathtub – ‘English, naturally’, as the lady’s brother drily commented. One was an ill gentleman and the other his masseur. It turned out that the bathroom had a second entrance from the hallway, with a sign ‘Bains’ [Baths].54 Upper-class travellers usually needed a large number of rooms for their retinue. A bachelor Russian grand duke, travelling incognito, booked ‘a waiting-room, a drawing-room, a bedroom and a room for his valet; he also needs suites for the two gentlemen who accompany him, and each of these needs a room for his valet’.55 The number of servants who came with the guests meant that a considerable part of the hotel space was occupied by the much more modest – and never mentioned – servants’ rooms. Numerous staff of the grand hotels created in the guests a comfortable feeling of being the focus of attention. Elinor Glyn belonged to the class that spent time at spas and wrote from personal observation, even if the romance genre inclined her to embellish. Her heroine, staying at a Swiss resort hotel, had a table reserved for dinner at the restaurant. When she arrived, her table had already been set: there was a vase with three exquisite roses on it and a bottle of decanted red wine. From this moment until the end of the meal, the guest of honour never stayed alone. The maître-d-hotel poured the wine; she lifted the glass to the light, took a sip, then scented its bouquet and uttered, ‘Bon’, which freed the maître-d’hotel to attend to other guests. As the waiters brought the dishes from the kitchen, they handed them to her own servant who set the plates on the table before her and stood in attendance.56 The jaded and overworked staff of a spa hotel easily recognized three categories of guests: moneybags, aristocrats and profiteers. The guests were often fussy, spoilt and demanding; many had the irritating habit of giving orders and countermanding them at once. The servants responded by heartily despising them for being neurotic and refused to admire any qualities but strength, youth and health – precisely the qualities that most of the spa visitors lacked.57

Small inns versus grand hotels Like other innovations, grand hotels were not universally liked. ‘Standard’ and ‘uniform’ are characteristics that some people find endearing and reassuring, but already at the turn of the century some people were depressed by the ‘international likeness’ of the modern hotels:58 the same furniture in the rooms, the same staff in similar uniforms, the same waiters with a serviette under the arm and the same crowd of guests. Also, a considerable number of people went to spas and resorts in search of privacy. A grand hotel stood for everything these people were trying to escape. They prized the remote and ‘time-forgotten’ valleys for providing them with peace, impossible in crowded fashionable places. And where crowds were absent, comforts were unsophisticated. A young Edwardian woman wrote longingly about the French bedroom of her favourite old inn in Dieppe, with ‘a curtained

Therapy versus pleasure  49 bed, a pudgy quilt, and an Empire mirror over the mantelpiece, to say nothing of a gilt clock and two bronze horses, and four or five nice pious pictures of martyrs all stuck full of arrows’.59 She went from Dieppe to a small seaside resort in Normandy, where she happily drank coffee with a soup-spoon out of an old little white bowl with pink flowers on the inside, had croissants and butter at eight in the morning, then walked to the beach, unlocked her inn’s bathing hut with her key, took out a deck chair and lay back on it, alone on the beach. She looked up at the larks in the sky, bathed, climbed cliffs and wrote her diary in the evenings, waxing sentimental about French village life.60 Some people chose company over luxury. The Russian diplomat Aleksandr Nelidov, who regularly came to Scheveningen, rented rooms at the residence of the Societé Diplomatique Hollandaise in order to be among German, Austrian and British colleagues.61 The most enthusiastic clientele of the luxurious new hotels were the new rich. The bourgeoisie valued efficiency, technology and everything modern and aspired to an aristocratic way of life. Grand hotels provided both ‘miracles of modern technology’ and ‘a theatre for the great drama of bourgeois aspiration’.62 Traditional inns with their modest rooms and limited menus offered few opportunities for the new rich to display their wealth. So, in these places ‘everyone finds himself reduced to his personal worth’;63 that is to say, one’s social standing was determined by the family name and reputation, not by the size of their bills. The older generation of nobility declared grand hotels vulgar: they abhorred ‘pretentious chic and all this luxury for rent which is supposed to make great lords and ladies out of the people who are nothing of the kind at home’.64 For the same reason, a Russian teenager in the 1870s regretted that her family rented a luxurious new villa in Nice: Frankly, living there will be awfully unpleasant. It is good enough for the bourgeois, but for us. … I am an aristocrat and I prefer a ruined nobleman to a rich bourgeois; I see more charm in old silk, weather-beaten gold leaf, broken columns and arabesques than in luxurious but tasteless, loud decor.65 But the aristocratic smart set with their enormous incomes came to favour modern grand hotels over romantic dilapidated rural inns and villas: they were used to choosing the best of everything on offer.

Catering to the healthy A charming Prussian spa, Kreuznach, was easily accessible by railway; it had hotels, a Kurhaus with a ballroom and reading rooms, a Konversation and a restaurant, watering cabinets and a pretty park. The visitors could ride out in hired carriages or on well-trained donkeys into the surrounding vineyards and cornfields. Kreutznach waters had been used since the 15th century for treating stomach and urinary tract illnesses. Fibroid tumours of the ovaries and uterus were reputed to soften, shrink and even disappear after an extended treatment at the spa.66 Its waters enjoyed such a high reputation that they were bottled and

50  Spa life exported. But few visitors came because the place was dull, so Kreuznach waters were sold in the nearby fashionable Bad Ems. The Bavarian Kissingen was larger and more popular than Kreuznach but shared its reputation of dullness. Mme. Doukhovskoy, who came with her ill husband in 1900, was charmed by the fresh greenery and the wooded hills and liked the doctor who attended her husband. She was impressed by his waiting room crowded with patients from all over the world. Every morning she accompanied her husband to the Kurhaus, where a beautiful string orchestra entertained the guests from six to eight. The sick strolled in the broad alley, carrying their mugs. In the afternoon she took walks in the country. So far so good, but she complained that exercise gave me a ravenous appetite, and I was far from being satisfied with our meagre dinner when we returned home, being put on low diet like my husband, for company’s sake. We were kept with a discipline that was worse than that of a convent, and were all put to bed at nine o’clock, in accordance with the doctor’s order. …At the end of three days I …wanted much to run away.67 Such visitors would not remain long in a place where they could not enjoy themselves. Entertainment for the healthy had to be provided. Many spas succeeded to such a degree that N. Taffy wrote: As a rule the invalid is the only one with health problems, but wives, aunts and mistresses undertake a cure for company’s sake. As every invalid is blessed with several aunts and mistresses, the spa crowd proper is not composed of the ill, but of their retinue. Hence the bemusement of a newcomer to a spa renowned for curing the gravely ill: he enters the Kursaal and sees plump faces bursting with health, flushed from the merry pas d’Espagne, and sturdy legs energetically stomping. He asks: “Are these the invalids? Or those who have recovered? What a wonderful spa where people recover so well!” A day or two later the naive tourist learns that the real invalids are invisible. They stay indoors or are driven out of town in closed carriages to breathe fresh air. Only the aunts and the mistresses take a full advantage of the stay.68 Two characters in a Victorian romance novel, who at the height of season came to Lucerne, enjoyed the kind of life that Mme. Doukhovskoy missed in Kissingen: in the morning the two ladies in elegant Parisian couture creations and widebrimmed hats, each with a lace parasol in her gloved hand, made a tour of souvenir shops, then strolled to Hugenin’s cafe, took a table on the pavement under an awning and, ordering champagne frappé, amused themselves by observing the ‘canaille’ [the scum] walking by: groups of tourists led by guides and frumpy sports women in bicycle skirts with buttons in the back, and felt hats with a feather at the side, returning from a ride.69

Therapy versus pleasure  51 Back at the hotel their maids were ready with hot curling irons to refresh their hairdos and with fresh frocks to change into. After lunch they had coffee, liqueur and cigarettes in the lounge. Fewer English ladies smoked than the continental ones, but abroad rules were relaxed towards a delicious wickedness. They listened to a Hungarian band and admired the handsome conductor. Staring at men was not good form, but a musician was not of their class and the usual rules did not apply. At 3 pm one of them went for a dip in the lake. Later, the two friends had tea on the terrace of the Kursaal while a band was playing. At 6 pm they went to the cathedral to listen to the organist and a Dresden opera prima donna who performed during the service. After dinner, the hotel guests took seats on the terrace and watched the illumination on Mount Stanserhorn.70

Socializing as therapy Doctors correctly judged that a reasonable occupation was to be found for spa patients, for otherwise they would become neurasthenic. The natural setting of all health resorts offered a pastime: the visitors climbed hills, went for walks in the woods, took donkey and bicycle rides in the countryside. Other ideas stemmed from the social practices of the time. If originally a Kurhaus or an établissement de bains housed the baths and drinking water fountains, later they were transformed into a spa’s centre of social life. Baden-Baden’s Kurhaus had concert halls, ballrooms, restaurants, a coffeehouse, roulette salons and a reading-room with fresh magazines and newspapers from all the countries whose nationals populated Baden-Baden during the season. The more popular a spa was, the more foreign churches and chapels it boasted. Russians found it essential to have Orthodox churches at hand, for aristocratic marriages and baptisms often took place at foreign spas where they spent months on end. Indeed, the first Russian churches in France were built at spas. These foreign churches announced the presence of a numerous and prosperous colony. The fundraising campaign to have an Anglican chapel built in Aix-les-Bains was hailed by the British press as a matter of national prestige.

The star: Baden-Baden Until the fall of the French Second Empire, Baden-Baden had been the most brilliant cosmopolitan spa of Europe. In the 1850s–1860s it was a semi-French town because it was close to the French border and relations between the French and the people of Baden had always been quite affectionate. The place had something for everyone: gamblers, music lovers, nature lovers and hunters. A traveller who got off a clanking smoke-smelling train at the Baden-Baden station was immediately struck by the ‘lush green of the trees, clean houses of the cosy town, gently sloping mountains, Parisian cocottes’. Everything ‘emanated serene contentment and exultance’.71 Tall elms, linden and chestnut trees lined the straight streets

52  Spa life where residential mansions stood side by side with boutiques.72 In 1856, a motley crowd assembled in the promenade when a military band began to play: German royalty, French art and literature, Parisian fashion and frailty, the greatest ladies from London, Vienna and St Petersburg cheek by jowl with the fairest sinners from Berlin …; the impassive croupier and the fevered, broken gambler side by side; English blacklegs, jostling Frankfurt Jew stock-­ brokers; lanky Baden dragoons mixed with the stalwart ­Croats of Benedek infanterie and the boyish-looking recruits of the Prussian r­ egiments … and a sprinkle of wonderful hats, red waistcoats, and long, silver-buttoned coats of the Schwartzwald peasantry.73 Picnics were arranged at the ruined medieval castles in the vicinity of BadenBaden. One of these picturesque ruins became the stage of a dramatic meeting between the characters of Turgenev’s famous novel The Smoke. In 1898, 30 years after the novel was published, a Turgenev fan visited the spot. Everything was exactly as Turgenev had described it 30 years earlier: the wooded mountain slope, the path, the ruined castle and the view of Baden’s white houses far below.74 City fathers took care to preserve their natural assets. The first two weeks of August in Baden-Baden were a continuous splendid carnival for those who were not dedicated gamblers, but gambled in order to add some spice to the races, Opéra Comique’s performances and balls. In the 1860s, the owner of the casino, Edouard Benazet, who drew his profits from the gambling salons, invited the most popular artists to perform on the stage of the casino’s opera house. Benazet ‘compensated’ for the money he took from gamblers in the casino by offering excellent concerts. He also let the spa guests stage amateur theatricals in the charming little theatre at the Konversation. To his satisfaction,

Figure 2.2  Baden-Baden, Vom Neuen Schloss. Courtesy of Gravure Department, Russian National Library.

Therapy versus pleasure  53 some of the public during the intermissions wandered into the roulette salon and forgot about returning to the theatre.75 Private balls and balls by subscription were held in a separate building at the end of the famous Lichtenthal alley. On both sides of the alley there were boutiques selling luxury products. The most popular one was Mellerio, which sold French jewellers’ creations and was always ready to extend credit to young men with expectations of a large inheritance or those who were lucky in gambling.76 There was also a famous ‘tree of the good and evil’ at the upper corner of the alley. Male and female gossips gathered around the plain garden table in the shade of an old tree, watched the throng and traded news.77 Only at Baden-Baden there existed for a few years an international Ladies’ Club. It began as a gathering of women who wanted to escape the ‘mixed crowd’ in the promenade and the rain and damp that often plagued Baden-Baden in the evenings. Later, it became a full-blown club with a statute, rules of admission and other features that imitated men’s clubs.78 Men could join if the ladies proposed them and if they passed the ballot. A contemporary described the setting of the club dinner at the Kurhaus: … two most magnificent rooms, one called the salon Louis XV, finished only last year [1859], furnished the framework of this elegant pandemonium, and two halls and a very good French theatre gave the external circumstances required, and then the jolly hells in the middle, with the fevered gold-thirsting crowd under the glare of the gorgeous candelabra’.79 It was in the ‘jolly hells in the middle’, at the roulette salon, that Ivan Turgenev saw ‘familiar figures with predatory expressions – a sign of gambling fever – around the green tables. They bend, brushing the table surface with their chests, as they are spreading coins around the roulette’s square’.80 At Baden-Baden all idea of a rest cure was abandoned during the season. The middle-aged people strained to keep up, but sometimes they could not hold back a complaint. An old gentleman wrote: The Prussian queen told me “I have known Baden for years, but I have never seen such a brouhaha. Every day musical matinées, great dinners, great evenings – I­ cannot resist it any more, I am quite ill and I have to escape as soon as possible.” Eine Konigin ist doch gewiss gewöhnt an ein solches Leben – und doch war es ihr zu arg! [A queen is surely accustomed to such a life – and yet it was too much for her!]81 The spa season at Baden-Baden, which a young British diplomat affectionately called ‘a righte merrie queer disreputable sort of a place’,82 conveniently ended on 3 November, St. Hubert’s day, when the famous hunting season began. On that morning in 1860 the hunters, already in their hunting outfits, with horses and dogs gathered in the village of Sandweier. The cream of Baden-Baden society – Russian magnates, French, Prussian and English diplomats, Prussian

54  Spa life officers – attended a church service with their hired keepers and trackers and departed for the shoot. In the evening, the 250 gentlemen returned to the village and joined the ladies for dinner in a pavilion decorated with pine branches and illuminated by torches. They ate to the sound of the trackers singing German hunting songs. After dinner they returned to Baden.83

The road to success: Roulette Natural beauty, though appreciated, did not make Baden-Baden the star of the spa industry: gambling did. The prosperity of German spas dated from 1837 when after a powerful public campaign the French government put an end to the misery and corruption brought about by games of hazard and outlawed them. The day the French gambling houses were shutting their doors, a croupier at one of them with tears in his eyes put one hand on a deck of cards, raised the other one and announced in a voice full of emotion, ‘Gentlemen, this is the last round!’84 It was the beginning for the German spa industry. Gambling was transferred to German spas, and gamblers followed. For the next thirty years French spas focused on their patients’ health and well-being, while Baden-Baden, Wiesbaden and Homburg were known primarily as gambling paradises. The effect of Homburg water cures on the patients was confusing: some lost weight, others gained. But it did not matter as Homburg became one of the most popular European destinations for gamblers, after the brothers François and Louis Blanc built the first spa establishment and a gambling casino in 1841, thus giving rise to the association of the two. In 1860, it was connected to Frankfurt by railroad, not without financial support from the Blanc brothers, and was well on its way to becoming one of the wealthiest German towns. Twenty years later Homburg boasted two distinctions: the most beautiful Kursaal in Europe set in an orange grove and the most rapacious of all spa casinos because the stakes in trente et quarante were twice as high as those in Baden-Baden.85 The casinos in Germany were mostly French-owned, represented a French cultural practice and, although the French government outlawed them, they were viewed in Germany as symbols of French immorality, E. J. Carter wrote. The 1873 ban on casinos in Germany was seen as ‘the eviction of French influence’.86 After the new German empire banned casinos, gamblers moved to Monaco and to France. Homburg tried to return to serving as a medical spa. By setting a schedule of certain popular entertainments, the spa hoped to bring in guests from the nearby tourist destinations. The Homburg Kurdirektor Baron von Maltzahn invented ‘the Homburg week’ in mid-August, filling in the gap between the fashionable Bayreuth Wagner festival week and the ‘Baden-Baden week’.87 Theatre performances, corsos [parades of decorated carriages] and charitable bazaars were some of the highlights of ‘the Homburg week’. The imperial family’s frequent presence was another. Emperor William II’s youngest son Prince Joachim regularly came to play at the Homburg tennis club, under the eyes of the admiring public.88 Homburg’s neighbour Wiesbaden survived the ban on gambling very well. After it was granted a licence for gambling, it became one of the infamous gambling paradises of Germany,89 and most visitors ignored the medical value of

Therapy versus pleasure  55 its two dozen hot saline springs. When gambling was banned, Wiesbaden once again became a peaceful, wholesome and relatively inexpensive spot, a symbol of German prosperity under the imperial rule.90 It remained the largest of the Kurorten (health resorts), with well over 100,000 visitors a year, almost twice its population, and many bathing establishments and fountains. It was saved by its physicians and the presence of the German aristocracy. Wiesbaden was the unofficial summer residence of the Hohenzollerns, and the aristocracy gathered there in summer to wait upon Emperor William II or in the hope of joining his circle.

Specializing in tuberculosis Moderate climate was a must for a spa, and no description was complete without the average temperature during the season, 15–18º C usually being the most desirable. But clever advertising with promises of unsurpassed healing effects helped to popularize cold places. Towards the end of the 19th century, Swiss doctors trying to compete with the popularity of the warm French seaside began to promote pure mountain air as a cure for tuberculosis. They pointed to their sturdy highlanders as proof that tuberculosis could be healed in the mountains. It could not, but a wholesome lifestyle, clean air and rest certainly helped some of the patients. Wealthy lung patients spent years in shuttling between the Riviera and Swiss cure stations, fearing return to their homeland, whether cold Russia or foggy Britain. When young Irina Maltzova, used to running around with a merry band of her St. Petersburg friends, was diagnosed with tuberculosis, her mother took her first to Italy, then – as her state worsened – to Switzerland. She found Davos impeccably organized for the comfort of poitrineurs [lung patients]. The doctor visited her twice a day; twice a week plays were performed for the guests at her hotel, who were not strong enough to go outdoors. Tickets were not required, although the guests paid 2 francs for the programmes. During the intervals, hotel maids brought tea to the public. None of this relieved Irina’s boredom, anxiety and constant thoughts of death. What weighed on her most was the absence of company. ‘I do not recognize myself and despise myself for cowardice,’ she wrote, and concluded: ‘Two lonely females are a very miserable pair!’91 In summer Irina moved to the Italian Riviera. Traditionally, doctors recommended the seaside for patients who were recovering from chest colds or pneumonia and for those with tuberculosis because inland summers were too hot. The healing properties of mineral waters did not compensate for the discomforts of the heat that made people stay all day long ‘in a darkened room in a state of semi-nudity, and … drinking buckets of lemonade and iced water’.92 Dr. Bennett, the British pioneer of seaside cure for tuberculosis, promoted Menton, a fishing port with beautiful farming country around it, as a winter resort.93 He created a system of treatment for the lung patients, incorporating exercise, breathing the sea air, spending hours in the morning sun, sailing and collecting plants. Menton, Cannes and Hyères, were wrapped in an aura of sadness, as an antechamber of a funeral home. In daytime visitors warmed themselves in the sun; then they disappeared into their lodgings at the sunset. At 5 pm the streets were

56  Spa life deserted; only doctors were walking fast, making house visits to their patients. A casino that opened at Hyères went bankrupt for lack of visitors. The town offered only wholesome amusements, such as excursions and guided tours, popular with elderly English ladies.94 ‘Menton is not for fun’, Bertal warned. He classified it into two towns: the old one, where the healthy people lived, and the new one, populated by invalids. From 10 in the morning till 4 in the afternoon the victims of rickets, consumption and chronic fever, either stroll or are pushed in wheelchairs along the seafront. The old town looms over the new one, it is higher up in the hills and is very Italian. This is where hundreds of physicians from all over Europe have their practices.95

The cosmopolitan Riviera Cannes was discovered by the British in the 1830s. ‘[T]he lords and soap and iron merchants’ built Victorian-style ‘red-brick barracks’, ‘castles of stone and cardboard’96 in the midst of cacti and orange trees.97 The weather was warm in December. Almond trees and fluffy aromatic yellow mimosa, imported from the tropics, were in bloom; rosebuds were opening. Gentlemen wore summer canvas trousers, ladies wore faille gowns, and everyone wore straw hats. Bertal noticed the proliferation of umbrellas of all colours and materials in the Promenade: these people went to great expense to find the salutary sunshine and now were afraid of getting too much of it.98 There were horse races and pigeon shooting contests, but on a small scale, insufficient for changing the overall atmosphere.99 The races in Cannes were far less popular than those in Nice.100 Overall, the town was considered dull: there was little to do if one did not gamble, except read newspapers at the hotel or go out on excursions. Nice was more successful than Cannes in becoming both a cure station and a fashionable resort. It started out as ‘the dullest, most neglected of Sardinian cities’, with no trade, no industry, no roads to speak of, little water and no local press. In the late 1840s, it had only two half-decent inns and a sprinkling of good houses with gardens reaching down to the shingly beach.101 But it had a free port, charming nature and excellent, stable climate. Its advantage was that in other winter stations doctors advised the patients to stay indoors after sunset, when the temperature dropped. In Nice they only recommended them to dress warmer in the evening, so social life continued.102 The smart set dined at nine in the evening because carriages and autos returned from excursions at about seven and ladies took a nap afterward so that they would be at the peak of freshness and beauty for the rest of the night. Besides dramatic and musical performances, Nice featured all the usual spa distractions: aristocratic sportsmen who came for the regatta; horse races, and later a bicycle club. The annual ‘Aviation Week’ at Nice, in the 1900s, gathered enthusiastic sportsmen and their fans from all over Europe. The most famous

Therapy versus pleasure  57 Nice tradition, its three-day-long carnaval de fleurs, with a parade of elaborate carriages carrying pretty girls in costumes, and the battle of flowers was part of the week-long festivities preceding Lent. Platforms, bleachers and arbours were built and to diminish the noise from the carriages’ wheels, sand was spread in the streets leading to the boulevard. At noon a cannon salvo announced that the carnival had begun. An orchestra played in front of the city hall, the participants strolled or drove along the boulevard: all wore disguises and wire masks to protect their eyes and faces from the confetti and bouquets of flowers that they threw at each other.103

The Riviera changes its image After the seabathing fashion spread, the Riviera gradually moved from being a Mecca for invalids to a fashionable resort. Cannes filled with ‘Miniature Spaniards, German bourgeois, haughty English, Italians weighed down by jewelry, the Dutch in gold-rimmed glasses, Belgians and even the Swiss’.104 In the 1880s, a French visitor wrote: Cannes has become an immense city, with two or three-storied palaces, gardens with the most beautiful palm-trees, most magnificent eucalyptuses, green oaks, tall pines surrounded by rosebushes – in short, all the vegetation of Algiers without miasmas or fevers.105 Hoteliers and business owners did not want the place to be associated with invalids in wheelchairs lining the promenade. The Association of Hotel Keepers of Menton made an effort to shed the town’s image of an ‘invalid resort’ in 1910. They sent an open letter to the British Medical Journal under the title ‘Misconceptions Concerning the Riviera’. They emphasized that Menton was no longer the place for consumptives and in fact received fewer of them than other winter stations. The hotel-keepers refused to receive tubercular patients because their presence was disturbing and depressing to other guests. They begged physicians not to recommend Menton to their tubercular patients and warned that two of the local establishments, St John’s Home of Rest for Clergymen and Villa Helvetia, had already closed their doors to them. They were ‘absolutely unwelcome in Menton hotels and are refused if known to be such.’106 Others did the same: at the Crimean seaside resort Yalta, which aspired to the status of the Russian Cannes, landlords refused to let apartments or rooms to the consumptives who came there to escape Russia’s harsh northern winters.107

Monte Carlo The image that the Riviera sought in the 1900s was that of the elitist Monaco, ‘the homeland of forbidden pleasures’, from gambling to love affairs in the midst of luxury, the forbidden charming games of romance and hazard. It was conceived from the start as a paradise for elderly moneybags and cocottes.

58  Spa life No place today is as firmly associated with gambling as Monte Carlo, a late­ comer in the resort industry, modelled after the German spas. Gambling was in­ troduced in Monte Carlo, a former poor fishing region, in the 1850s. After a slow start, Monte Carlo became unrecognizable. Its rough, untamed landscape – rocks and cliffs – was replaced by green lawns surrounded by flowerbeds. Blue sky, imported coconut and date palms, and fig trees became the backdrop for magni­ ficent palaces with terraces on which orchestras performed and brilliantly dressed ladies strolled. The casino opened at 11 am, by which time various carriages and cabs were already waiting there. Several commissioners of the casino, soberly dressed in black, stood at the entrance to prevent the undesirables from entering. Gambling went on until dawn, and addicted gamblers only made two brief pauses for hasty meals. As long as a person gambled without affecting the family’s fortunes, so­ ciety treated it as one of the spa’s amusements, much like racing or pigeon shoot­ ing. A young man reported to his mother blithely on his stay at Monte Carlo: From Berlin I went directly to Monte Carlo. … At the casino I naturally met [Grand Duchess] Anastasia [of Mecklenburg-Schwerin], Maximovich and the Fedo couple who are in Nice. Later Serezha Dolgor[ouky] came from Paris. At first I played the roulette, trying with little luck the Nelidov system and its various versions. I lost. I wanted to go away and even to leave [Monte Carlo], but as the weather was sunny and warm, I postponed my departure. I tried trente et quarante y vot tut poshlo [and then my luck turned] I won 2–3 thousand francs and covered my travel expenses, and the day after I left for Paris.108 There were no ethical objections to gambling among the upper class. Amateur gamblers were ‘sportsmen’ and took pride in their success and in their ability to maintain a calm, smiling appearance when they lost. Only professional gamblers were despised and feared. Homburg was criticized for attracting them: ‘There are no amateurs. It is a niche where everyone works.’ Suicides were not unusual at Monte Carlo. Because it was bad publicity for the gambling establishment, the news was suppressed. A story ran about a director of the casino hearing early in the morning that a gambler, who had lost everything the night before, hanged himself in the casino park. The director hurried to the park and put a few gold coins into the dead man’s vest pocket, so that newspapers would attribute his suicide to an unhappy love affair.109 Even those who did not gamble felt curious about the den of vice, and their visits, however brief, added to the renown of Monte Carlo. The German emperor William II dropped anchor at Monte Carlo during a summer cruise, and one evening at the casino sufficed to satisfy his interest.110 The Austrian Empress ­Elisabeth in the 1890s ventured into the Monte Carlo casino, heavily veiled and ac­ companied by an undercover police officer and a lady-in-waiting but did not play. Other royals did: the Orleans princes gambled at Baden-Baden; Queen Victoria’s heir, the Prince of Wales, when staying on the Riviera, came to the casino daily

Therapy versus pleasure  59 to play baccarat, but he was discreet, never brought more than one or two companions with him and never lost extravagant sums.111 Russian grand dukes in the 1880s–1900s returned to Monte Carlo every year and lost large sums of money. A Russian recorded distastefully: ‘Grand Duke Alexey [the emperor’s uncle] plays baccarat without sitting down. He places bets of 500, 1,000 f. [The Duke of] Leuchtenberg [the emperor’s second cousin] sits down at the table and bets enormous sums’.112 Grand Duke Nikolai Mikhailovich, a cousin of Alexander III was a compulsive gambler, so much so that a friend scolded him: [I]t hurts you morally and financially (I am talking about Monte Carlo). … Whatever the others around you might be doing, they do not relieve you of your responsibility for your own behaviour. There are more interesting, more exciting and … elegant pastimes than a dumb contest with the wooden wheel.113 A former governess of the Romanov children wondered about this: ‘when needed, they risked their lives like simple rank and file, but how often have they conquered their own passions and whims?’114 She concluded, ‘Our grand dukes are constantly haunted by the nightmare of boredom.’ It was the only explanation she could find for their indiscriminate taste in acquaintances and distractions.115 A high-minded young diplomat Sergei Sazonov reprimanded his friend who, instead of Egypt or Sicily, ‘got stuck for the winter in the vile den called Monte Carlo! There is no plague in Egypt and winters in Sicily are warmer and much more stable than on the Riviera, and the land is not as defiled by humanity’s vices as on the foul Côte d’Azur’.116

The key to success: Royal presence Some spas remained undisputed leaders for decades, while others lost their popularity after a few years. Ed Roy Parker believes that ‘the fortunes of water cures depended on laws of land-ownership, economic development and values.’ The Italian ideal was to take the waters in a rustic retreat, leisure and pleasure; in Germany spa uses were therapeutic, but casinos prior to 1873 attracted to ­Germany a large crowd of gamblers.117 Political circumstances might change people’s preferences: the French filled Monte Carlo, Trouville and Marienbad in the wake of the Franco-Prussian War because they abandoned German spas. But all other things being equal, royal patronage was the first step to success for a spa. During the 1860 season, Baden-Baden received 46, 842 foreigners. The guests whose presence confirmed Baden’s status as the most fashionable resort were the Grand Dukes of Baden, the French Prince Napoléon ­Bonaparte, the Prussian Prince-Regent and his wife, the Queen of Holland, the Dukes of Saxe-Cobourg, the Russian Grand Duchess Elena, the princes of the Hohenzollern-­Siegmarinen family – all related to each other – as well as a ­plethora of French, German, Russian and Austrian aristocrats,118 who accompanied the royalty.

60  Spa life The 1867 season at Homburg, Wiesbaden and Baden-Baden began earlier than usual because the royals had come to Paris for the Universal Exhibition in early summer and then continued to the spas. As a result, the hotels and lodging houses were full and the prices went up 30 to 50%. It was the usual effect of royal presence, for hangers-on followed them everywhere, driving the cost of living up. In the French Eaux-Bonnes, a village of 53 inhabitants and one main street, ‘one had to lodge in the tree branches and in the cracks of the rocks’119 when Empress Eugenie stayed there. The visitors compensated by seeing brilliant cavalcades ride every day through the village and by listening to the orchestras serenading the empress in the evenings.120 The distant Plombierès became popular thanks to Napoleon III’s regular visits and lost its attraction after the emperor’s fall in 1870 because most people went to spas so that they could say back home: ‘I spent last summer in … and established close relations with countess X, marchioness Y, banker Z, minister M, or actress N’.121 Ems was popular in the 1850s–1880s, when the Prussian and Russian reigning families spent summers there. After William I’s death in 1888 the numbers fell. Austrians practically disappeared from Ems by 1890. They switched to Ischl where they could always count on seeing the Habsburgs.122 Snobs had their own way of ranking spas’ medical merit: ‘Hyères is rather chic for certain illnesses’ was the dictum in the 1880s. Other seaside winter-stations were not chic, so ‘no one’ went there.123 At all times the main attraction of spas was the quality of the company one found there. A woman recommended a small German spa to her brother, a ­Russian diplomat: ‘The hotel is new, charming, excellent, food excellent. ­Society is not like everywhere else’.124 A young British diplomat wrote to his father from Baden-Baden: Baden, which I had never before seen in the season, pleased me mighty much. It is quite a place for a diplomatist to frequent, as a more cosmopolitan company one cannot well imagine, and many people from various corners of the globe I had long wished to meet and to become acquainted with I found congregated there. … Of old acquaintances there were Mme. Kalergis, more brilliant than ever. … Then my dear friend the beautiful grandmother Countess Lottum (née Putbus), Mme. Decazes (née Stackelberg), old Pückler-­ Muskau, the Loftuses. … Of new acquaintances … the pleasantest are the Londonderrys among the Britishers and the Duc de Richelieu among the foreigners . … In the Ladies’ Club … the beauties were Princess Obolensky and Countess Edmond Pourtalès, the latter quite lovely, toilettes mirobolantes. The cocks, or rather hens, of the Club are Princess Menchikoff, Mme. Kalergis, very Russian as you will perceive.125 An experience at an unfashionable spa could not differ more. In 1898, a Russian princess on the advice of her Parisian physician went to Plombières. The physician assured her that the waters were the best for her complaints but ‘forgot to mention that the place had extremely basic comforts and was unbearably dull.’ Princess Bariatinsky conceded that the natural setting was pretty but was shocked by the

Therapy versus pleasure  61 shabbiness and small size of the watering establishment. Its reading room offered only one newspaper, and there was no restaurant. It did not come to her as a surprise that her Grand hotel was empty, except for a few obscure elderly invalids who suffered from gout or digestive troubles. The spa, which lived through its days of glory under Napoleon III, fell on hard times by the end of the century. The arrival of the Duke of Chartres, a grandson of King Louis-Philippe, somewhat redeemed Plombières in her eyes. She ran into the duke in the park and he introduced himself, saying that he had met her father-in-law. For the rest of their stay the Bariatinskys spent much time with the duke.126 The princess’s’ chagrin was common in a person of her times and of her social circle. Everyone knew that the greatest pleasure in life was derived from congenial company. Personal relations and attachments were the most precious part of a human life. Countess Nina Keller complained from Vichy about a situation that she found odd and disappointing: ‘Throngs everywhere, [but] I have not a single acquaintance. … I spend evenings at the theatre, at 9.30 I am already in my room’.127 Cosmopolitan aristocrats, like the Bariatinskys and Countess Keller, wherever they travelled in Europe, remained in the same world, a world inhabited by their peers. Finding themselves in a spa with no acquaintances was an alarming symptom: it meant they were in the wrong place, socially. Princess Bariatinsky never returned to Plombières.

Notes 1 Grand Duke Aleksandr Mikhailovich to Empress Maria, 27.5.1890, GARF 642–1–2387, l.177. 2 D. Benckendorff to Olga Paley, 6/19.8.1908, GARF, 613–1–76, ll.2–9 ob. 3 M. Bock, P.A. Stolypin. Vospominaniia o moiem otse (Moscow: Sovremennik, 1992), 161. 4 John Harold and Percy A.E. Richards, ‘Notes on Health Resorts and Sanatoria. Salsomaggiore: Its Waters and Baths’, The British Medical Journal 1, No. 1937 (February 12, 1898), 443–444. 5 Gerard Delfau, Hygiène et therapeutique thermales (Paris: Masson, 1896), 190. 6 W. Baumgarten, MD, ‘The Medicinal Treatment of Valvular Disease of the Heart,’ in Quarterly Bulletin. Medical Department of Washington University (St. Louis, MO, 1908), 3:15. 7 Baumgarten, 3:11. 8 Bertal, La Vie hors de chez soi (Comédie de notre temps). L’hiver – Le Printemps – L’été – l’automne. (Paris: E. Plon et Cie, 1876), 619–620. 9 Bertal, 621. 10 G. Reumont and P-J. Mondheim, Analyse des eaux sulfureuses d’Aix-la-Chapelle (Aix-la-Chapelle: l’Imprimerie de J-G. Beaufort, 1810), 43–45. 11 N. Maltzov to Grand Duke Sergei Aleksandrovich, 3.6.1881, OR RGB, 253/1–10–10, ll.23–4 ob. 12 ‘Foreign Bathing Places’, Freeman’s Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser, 24.7.1833. 13 Bertal, 621. 14 Roger H. Charlier and Marie-Claire P. Chaineaux, ‘The Healing Sea: A Sustainable Coastal Ocean Resource: Thalassotherapy’, 851. 15 V. Nabokov, Speak, Memory (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1966 [1947]), 26.

62  Spa life 16 Borislav Valusek, Rajka Davison, and David Davison, ‘Ars Combinatoria: The Architect Carl Seidl’, The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts (August 1990), 17:84–89. 17 Bertal, 615. 18 Jan Hein Furnée, ‘A Dutch Idyll? Scheveningen as a Seaside Resort, Fishing Village and Port, c.1700–1900’ Resorts and Ports: European Seaside Towns since 1700 (eds. Peter Borsay and John K.Walton) (Bristol: Channel View Publications, 2011), 36–39. 19 Furnée, 33. 20 Furnée, 40. 21 Th. de Boulgarine, Ivan Wyjighine ou le Gil Blas russe, 2:228. 22 Ch.-W. von Hufeland, L’Art de prolonger la vie, ou la Macrobiotique (Paris: J.-B. Baillière et fils, 1871). 23 Dr. A. Lorand, La Vieillesse, moyens de la prévenir et de la combattre (Paris: Librairie J.-B. Baillière et Fils, 1911). 24 Memor, ‘Entretiens Retrospectifs’, Revue de France (1871), 7:280–281. 25 Bertal, 586. 26 Bertal, 615. 27 Bertal, 584. 28 Mackaman, 122. 29 E.V. Saburova, ‘Vospominaniia’ (1847–1916) (manuscript), OR RGB, 667–3–1, l.4. 30 Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna to Gen. Pavel Kiselev, 4/16.6.1846, IRLI RAN, 143–1–357, ll.3–6 ob. 31 E.J. Carter, ‘Breaking the Bank: Gambling Casinos, Finance Capitalism and German Unification’, Central European History 39 (June 2006), 2:185. 32 A.S. Suvorin, 171. 33 Count Henry Russell, 2. 34 J-J. Weiss, 91. 35 Marquis d’Eyragues, 44. 36 Richard Metternich (ed.), Memoirs of Prince Metternich in 1815–1829 (transl. Mrs. A. Napier) (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1881), 3:26. 37 Metternich, 3:26. 38 Nadeau, 356. 39 E.V. Saburova, ‘Vospominania’ (manuscript), OR RGB, 667–3–1, l.20. 40 Saburova. 41 Herbert Lachmayer, Christian Gargerle and Geza Hajós, ‘The Grand Hotel’, AA Files, No. 22, autumn 1991, 34. 42 E-F. de Beaumont-Vassy, Prince Max à Paris. Roman inédit (Paris: F. Sartorius, 1870), 4. 43 Lachmayer, 38–9. 44 G. Jollivet, Souvenirs de la vie de plaisir sous le Second Empire (Paris: Jules ­Tallandier, 1927), 101. 45 Lachmayer, 38–39. 46 Lachmayer, 39. 47 Guide offert à Mssrs. les étrangers par le proprietaire du Grand Hôtel Montbrun et du casino (Vichy: C. Bougarei, 1887). 48 Lachmayer, 36. 49 Kate Hubbard, Serving Victoria. Life in the Royal Household (New York: Harper, 2012), 323–324. 50 E. Glyn, Three Weeks (New York: Duffield and Company, 1907), 38–39. 51 This novel gave rise to the famous quatrain: Would you like to sin with Elinor Glyn on a tiger skin, or would you prefer to err with her on some other fur? 52 Mackaman, 122. 53 X. Paoli, Majesties as I Knew Them (New York: Sturgis & Walton, 1911), 9. 54 Eric Mension-Rigau, 217.

Therapy versus pleasure  63 55 A. Perovskii to A. Meyendorff, September 1867, AVPRI, 172 – 514/1 – 369, ll.16–17 ob. 56 Glyn, Three Weeks, 14. 57 Jean Lorrain, Hélie, garçon d’hôtel (Paris: P. Ollendorf, 1908), 106. 58 Cited in Jamie Camplin, The Rise of the Plutocrats: Wealth and Power in Edwardian England (London: Constable, 1976), 264. 59 Ernest Oldmeadow, Susan (Lepizig: Tauchnitz, 1907), 75. 60 Oldmeadow, 97. 61 A. Nelidov to K. Gubastov, 4/16.9.1880, IRLI RAN, 463–426, ll.106–109 ob. 62 Lachmayer, 34. 63 P-J. de Boisgrolau, Guide-roman au Mont-Dore: un épisode de la vie des eaux (Paris: Jon Aust, 1880), 13. 64 de Boisgrolau, 13. 65 M. Bashkirtzeva, Dnevnik Marii Bashkirtzevoi,­ bashkirtseva.php (accessed 1.12.2015), 28. 66 ‘Notes on Health Resorts’, British Medical Journal 2 (July 29, 1899), 2013:281–282. 67 The Diary of a Russian Lady. Reminiscences of Barbara Doukhovskoy (neé princess Galitzine) (London: John Long, 1917), 533–534. 68 N. Taffy, Izbrannoe (Moscow: Eksmo-Press, 2001), 259–260. 69 E. Glyn, The Letters of Her Mother to Elizabeth (London: John Lane, 1901), 43. 70 Glyn, The Letters, 44–46. 71 I.S. Turgenev, Dym, Collected Works (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe Izdatelstvo ­Hudozhestvennoi Literatury, 1961), 4:98. 72 José M. Samper, Viajes de un colombiano en Europa. Serie 2 (Paris: Imprimería de Thunot, 1862), 300–301. 73 Sir Horace Rumbold, Recollections of a Diplomatist (London: E. Arnold, 1902), 1:227. 74 S.A. Andreevsky, Kniga smerti (Moscow: Nauka, 2005 [1913]), 420–424. 75 Rumbold, 1:230. 76 Marie Colombier, Mémoires. Fin d’Empire (Paris: E. Flammarion, 1898–1900), 159. 77 Rumbold, 1:221. 78 Rumbold, 1:220–221. 79 Sir Robert Morier to his father, 8.9.1860, Memoirs and Letters of the Right Hon. Sir Robert Morier (ed. Mrs. Rosslyn Wemyss) (London: E. Arnold, 1911), 237–238. 80 I. Turgenev, Dym, 4:101. 81 F. Nesselrode to his granddaughter, 22.10.1864, M. Mouchanoff-Kalergis, Briefen, 145–146. 82 Sir Robert Morier to his father, 8.9.1860, Memoirs and Letters, 237–238. 83 L’Illustration de Bade, journal de la saison d’été, 25.11.1860, 154–155. 84 Gaston Jollivet, 53. 85 Rumbold, 1:230. 86 E.J. Carter, ‘Breaking the Bank: Gambling Casinos, Finance Capitalism and German Unification’, Central European History 39 (June 2006), 2:185. 87 The Pall Mall Gazette, 5.8.1899. 88 Ivan Stenbock-Fermor, Memoirs of life in Old Russia, World War I, Revolution and in Emigration (Palo Alto, CA: 1976), 81. 00stenrich#page/n9/mode/2up (accessed 26.2.2015). 89 E. J. Carter, ‘Breaking the Bank: Gambling Casinos, Finance Capitalism and German Unification’, Central European History 39 (June 2006), 2:190. 90 Rudy Koshar, German Travel Cultures (Oxford: Berg, 2000), 60. 91 Irina Maltzova to Grand Duke Sergey Aleksandrovich, 14.8. [n.a.] OR RGB, 253–10–1, ll.1–6 ob. 92 J. Henry Bennet, ‘Ischl as a Summer Residence for Consumptives’, The British Medical Journal, 27.5.1871, No. 543, 555–556.

64  Spa life 93 Pierre Guillaume, ‘Tuberculose et montagne. Naissance d’un mythe’, Vingtième Siècle. Revue d’Histoire (April–June 1991), 30:32–39. 94 Bertal, 327. 95 Bertal, 163. 96 Bertal, 143. 97 Bertal, 38. 98 Bertal, 46. 99 Bertal, 192. 100 Bertal, 175. 101 Rumbold, 1:71. 102 Marc Boyer, L’invention de la Côte d’Azur (Paris: Editions de l’Aube, 2002), 183. 103 Bertal, 175–176. 104 Bertal, 52–53. 105 Jules Ferry to Charles Ferry, 03.11.1889, Lettres de Jules Ferry. 1846–1893 (Paris: Calmann-Levy Editeurs, 1914), 513–515. 106 Ch. Duringer, ‘Misconceptions Concerning the Riviera’, British Medical Journal, 15.1.1910, No. 2259, 176–177. 107 Vera Kleinmikhel and Ekaterina Kleinmikhel, V teni tsarskoi korony (Simferopol: Biznes–inform, 2009), 41. 108 A. Dolgorouky to M.S. Benckendorff, 4.11.1911, BA, O. I. Subbotina Papers. 109 Gaston Jollivet, 52. 110 Boyer, L’Invention, 277. 111 Boyer, 277. 112 Suvorin, 188. 113 Prince D. Shervashidze to G.D. Nikolai Mikhailovich, 14.9.1909, GARF 670–1–429, ll.67–71 ll. 114 A.A. Tolstaya, Zapiski freiliny (Moscow: Enziklopedia rossiiskih dereven, 1996), 228. 115 A. A. Tolstaya, 229. 116 S.D. Sazonov to D.I. Tolstoy, 27.10.1899, RGIA, 696–1–507, ll.33–4 ob. 117 Ed Roy Parker, The Medical History of Waters and Spas (London: Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, 1990), VIII. 118 L’Illustration de Bade, 25.11.1860, 9. 119 Arsène Houssaye, Les Confessions: souvenirs d’un demi-siècle, 1830–1880 (Paris: E. Dentu, 1888), 4:131. 120 Houssaye, 131. 121 Samper, 300–302. 122 Hermann Sommer, Zur Kur nach Ems (Stuttgart: Steiner, 1999), 210. 123 Bertal, 35. 124 Duchess Nathalie von Trachenberg to A.K. Benckendorff, 23.7.1903, BA, box 26. 125 Sir Robert Morier to his father, 237–238. 126 Maria Bariatinskaya, Moia russkaia zhizn. Vospominaniia velikosvetskoi damy 1870–1918 (Moscow: Zentrpoligraf, 2006), 90–92. 127 Nina Keller to A. Obolenskaya, 17.8.1910, GIM, 25–2–304, ll.14–15 ob.

3 Spa society

The smart people were very smart and all seemed to know one another. —Elinor Glyn, The Letters of Her Mother to Elizabeth, 1901 Nobodies – people to be avoided like poison.

—The Alphabet of a Diplomat

An environment that healed by distracting from illness and worries was created by removing all the jarring elements. In the 18th and 19th centuries, many watering places maintained a free hospice for indigent invalids, but by the late 1800s these began to close. By the mid-19th century beggars, gypsy fortune tellers, pickpockets and other ethically disturbing and aesthetically unappealing public that Mme. de Sevigné mentioned two centuries before had disappeared from spas. Fashionable spas welcomed only the aristocracy and the wealthy, a relatively small group of people. Most elite families could find something in their past – a common ancestor, a marriage, a historic event – that established a connection between them in the present. European nobility’s family trees spread horizontally across borders: Swedish crusaders, Italian condotierri, French Protestant and Irish Catholic exiles, English and Scottish Jacobites, settled in Germany, France, Poland, Hungary, Austria and Russia and started families that sometimes rose to the top in their adopted homeland. The Russian chancellor under Alexander I and Nicholas I, Count Karl Nesselrode, had two daughters. One married a Saxon diplomat, the other – a Russian one. The marriages allied the Nesselrodes to Russian, German, Polish, Hungarian and Italian nobility. The chancellor’s grand-niece married an Austrian diplomat with a family network of his own. Thus, three beautiful Nesselrode girls in 50 years connected several dozen families in a dozen European countries. Primacy of blood ties and personal ties influenced all interactions of the elite. Spa assemblies were celebrations of its cohesion.

A system of filters A Parisian considered Cannes an artificial town because it had no suburbs and no industries.1 It was a common characteristic of resorts: the absence of factories kept away pollution and factory workers. Paradise on earth, like the one in

66  Spa life heaven, was not open to all. In 1864, the guards in Pyrmont had straightforward instructions to keep out of the promenade the people who were not ‘properly dressed’.2 But even the properly dressed were not indiscriminately allowed to mix with the better kind of public. A notorious Parisian cocotte was banned from the Baden-Baden casino in the 1860s when the Prussian queen was in town.3 A cocotte would also be asked to leave if someone complained that she was using a casino or a restaurant as her hunting grounds. The remoteness of watering places from large cities and populated areas also worked as a filter, for only the well-to-do could afford the time and expenses of travelling to a distant spa. At Biarritz one found only choice company, not a mixed one like those in the western coast seaside resorts – Trouville or Dieppe. After railroads connected them to Paris, these spas became economy resorts, for a ticket from Paris to the western coast in 1876 cost only 25 francs for a five-hour journey, while it took 125 francs and 20 hours to get to Biarritz. The tradition of ‘high seasons’ was another filter. The elites set aside a fixed time of the year for spa visits, just as they did for their other activities. They moved around following the annual itinerary common to their social group all over Europe: the migrations of a monarch were imitated by his court and society. In the second part of the century, the Russian emperors spent late fall and winter in the capital, moved to one of their suburban estates in springtime and went on a cruise or visited foreign relatives in summer; in the early fall they left for their Polish estate Spala and for the Crimea. A Russian noblewoman wrote in August 1880: ‘We will stay three weeks at Franzensbad, then two days in Dresden, Wiesbaden, then we will travel by the Rhine to Dusselsdorf. By 1 September our style [12 September] we go to Paris and from there at once to Biarritz for sea bathing, then in November [we return to] cara patria’.4 Edward VII of Britain spent between three and five weeks en garçon [as a bachelor] in early spring on the Riviera. He returned to London at the end of April and left for Marienbad at the end of July. He spent October shooting in Scotland, and in November he stayed at Sandringham, his suburban estate.5 Members of the British and French smart set travelled in the wake of his displacements.6 When a court left the capital in summer schools and universities closed, the activity at government institutions slowed down, and the theatrical season ended, so artists went on tours. The routine was compulsory: the persons who neglected the itinerary thereby cut their ties to society, losing contacts and influence.7 Few men and no women in this group held salaried posts, and they could afford regular and long stays abroad. So at fixed times of the year the same people came together: in Baden-Baden during the autumn races, in spring and early fall at Biarritz and on the Riviera in winter.8 The seriously ill arrived early because they wanted to recover in solitude. The Russian envoy to the Vatican, Sergei Sazonov, after a grave illness, was sent to the Italian Bagni di Montecatini in May. He wrote: ‘the place is quiet and, fortunately, still empty, because the water-drinking season begins only after 15 June’.9 Country squires and government servants came to spas in early summer and afterwards returned to their estates or their businesses. Much like bourgeoisie, they

Spa society  67 did not know anyone and so they kept to themselves, isolated by caste, opinions and status.10 The smart set began to arrive in July and left in mid-October. Spa regulars, like Maria Mukhanova-Kalergis, at once knew when the smart season was over. After a party in Baden-Baden she told her father: ‘The evening was charming, but there were fewer than 50 guests, I counted them all to prove to you that Baden is already empty of society’.11 Spa hotels and restaurants chased not only after the wealthy clientele, but also after ‘the best kind of person’ and kept all others out. Soon after Monte Carlo’s most expensive restaurant, Ciro’s, opened in 1897, two middle-aged women came in and ordered a modest meal of a soft-boiled egg, mashed potatoes and an orange each, accompanied by mineral water. Noticing it, the owner, Ciro, scolded the maître d’hotel: ‘Are you mad to accept such clientele? Where is their bill? Bring it to me!’ He added a zero to the modest sum of the bill and sent the waiter to the two ladies. They were surprised. One of them asked the waiter: ‘Isn’t there a mistake?’ – ‘No, madam.’ They paid and left. Ciro told an honoured client of his smugly: ‘This will teach them that Ciro’s is not a coffee-shop.’ The client asked: ‘So, you do not know them?’ – ‘Of course not! Some chambermaids.’ – ‘It is Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her lady-in-waiting.’ Ciro exclaimed: ‘What? This is terrible! Why wasn’t I told?’12

The invasion of the ‘personally conducteds’ The growth of the middle class and improving transportation kept chipping away at the exclusivity of resorts throughout the century. In 1800, only 400 visitors came to Kissingen; in 1850, the resort received close to 4,000 people; and in the 1890s, it claimed 20,000 day visitors a year, plus 15,000 resident guests who were undergoing a treatment.13 Lower middle class who could not afford a long stay at a hotel bought day tours to have a glimpse of the legendary places of health and luxury and their inhabitants. Contemporary sources are rife with ironic mentions of the ‘tourists’. The letters of the cosmopolitan elite betray their consternation and distaste when facing these people. Countess Keller described the nuisance of sharing her compartment on the way to Kissingen with a vulgar stranger. She kept pointedly silent to prevent the stranger’s attempts at conversation. The man had a meal brought to him, ‘ate, drank, then became purple – and the back of his head quite blue.’ Distressed, the countess told her maid in Russian: ‘He is going to have a stroke. For goodness’s sake, open the window!’ In Kissingen a Russian friend who met her at the station told her that her fellow-traveller was a well-known Petersburg cartwright!14 This fully explained to the countess his clumsy manners and his lack of judgment in bringing himself to the verge of a stroke: to her he was one of those who would have been wiser to stay at home. In the opinion of the upper class, the lower classes were foolishly aping their betters, for they did not speak languages, were insular and the attractions of a new environment were lost on them. Elinor Glyn speaks for her heroine staying at a Swiss resort: her enjoyment was marred by the hordes of the ‘personally conducteds’, who were recognizable by their ridiculous passion for local souvenirs

68  Spa life and new gadgets. With Baedeker guidebooks in their hands and edelweiss blossoms in their hat ‘[t]hey ask questions and make funny comments, buy postcards and write on them with stylograph’.15 Aristocrats traditionally represented their nation abroad and felt that lower-­ class countrymen spoiled its image in the eyes of Europe. A Russian courtier complained that his Berlin hotel was filled with Russians, ‘but, goodness, what sort of Russians. … It is a mix of Cheremis, Zyriane, Chuvash, Mordva16 and suchlike belhommes and belles femmes’.17 (He referred to their provincial appearance and manners.) The English upper class, as Lawrence Sterne believed, travelled abroad because they did not want to be among their countrymen. An Edwardian described a countryman she saw on the ferry to France: ‘The creature was large-handed, large-featured and (as I afterwards found) large-laughed and large-voiced. … There was a bold ring on the little (or rather, on the smallest) finger of his left hand … never in my life have I seen more horrid legs.’ In short, he looked like ‘a low-bred shopman or bookie’.18 With a shudder, she wrote about ‘provincial English tourists … lurking about the [French] beaches furtively watching “the ladies” while they bathe’.19 Whether Russian, British, French or German, in the eyes of their national aristocracy these people were ‘canaille’,20 to be ignored. The lower middle class were easy to ignore, unlike the new rich who increasingly filled aristocracy’s traditional preserves.

Conflict of values Even when aristocracy’s economic and political power was undermined in the late 19th century, public fascination with them lingered.21 Their way of life was still a model for the bourgeois and the new rich,22 who wanted not just to watch them but to join them. The bourgeois resented the aristocratic aloofness, H. Lempa writes, but when the aristocracy failed to gather in Carlsbad for the 1815 season, there were complaints that the spa life lacked glamour.23 Their bon ton – smiling courtesy, self-restraint and tact – made them charming company. So, a sprinkling of historic titles and names on a hotel’s guest list had an irresistible appeal for the new rich. A situation described in a novel was inspired by the reality: an Italian aristocrat who always stayed at the same hotel in a Swiss resort by the end of his life was ruined, but the management of the hotel offered him a free room on the top floor, to keep his name at the head of their guest list as advertisement.24 When the new rich followed the aristocracy to spas, they stayed at the same hotels and were treated by the same physicians; they strolled round the same fountains, went on the same excursions, but the two groups did not mix, even though a memoirist wrote that in Carlsbad in the 1860s the smiling, amiable and polite equality reigned around the healing sources. As the people stepped forward they greeted their neighbours … in this polite crowd it would have been difficult to distinguish a prince from a bourgeois, a minister of state from a merchant.25

Spa society  69 Perhaps they looked alike in a crowd but not when the two groups were scrutinized closer. The bourgeois were recognizable by their inability to navigate easily the new environment. In the old culture, people’s behaviour betrayed their social position.26 A submissive and diffident manner and inarticulacy were not personality traits, but social ones proper to the middle and lower classes. Even when they adopted a defiant and aggressive behaviour, it still signalled that they were trying to assert themselves in a group that was not theirs. Aristocrats were recognizable by their calm confidence. A novelist wrote about one of his upper-class characters: this woman ‘did not construe any theories but she always knew how to behave in any situation, as if everything had to follow definite rules, once and for all established at an imaginary royal court of which she was the centre’.27 The wife of a French foreign minister wrote about the Russians she knew: ‘so sure of themselves that it was very difficult to slight them in any way. They would never have perceived it unless some extraordinary rudeness was shown’.28 A closer look revealed incompatibility between the new rich and aristocracy at a deeper level. Plutocrats owed their social standing to their wealth; in most cases it was their only measure of success and source of confidence. Their other values were: hard work, self-help, thrift (sometimes degenerating into meanness) and individualism. The flip side of these middle-class virtues was aggressive greed, selfishness, coarseness and inferiority complex. Nothing could be further from aristocracy’s fundamental principles. To begin with, they were brought up not to pursue success but to live up to an ideal. Aristocracy has been wrongly accused of worshipping superficial polish over deep qualities, but norms of etiquette reflected their ethical norms, and the two formed an indivisible whole. For example, the more aristocracy looked down on one, the more polite they became. It was not hypocrisy or sneer: they considered it despicable to bully those who could not retaliate and ingratiate themselves with those who were stronger. It was the opposite of the plutocrats’ proverbial bullying of their inferiors. To appear as if not to care what things cost, to be unstintingly hospitable and fearless in the face of danger, to value family interests over the individual were their ways to assert honour. Gambling to which many of spa visitors were addicted was, in times of peace, a way for a nobleman to show his nonchalance, self-control and coolness.29 An aristocrat did not pick up change, did not run for cover; he might marry money, but he did not work for it. If he worked, it was because he wanted to, and only in specific capacities: a military officer, a state servant, a scholar or a scientist.30 Aristocrats believed in the primacy of the group over the individual – and therefore professed a morale based on discipline and loyalty; contempt of danger, indifference to expense (taken by some to the extreme of reckless extravagance) and social conservatism; traditional patronage of arts and scholarship and a keen appreciation of good conversation and wit (which might degenerate into mindless prattling, so well parodied by Charles Dickens and P.G. Wodehouse). A conflict between professional interests and personal honour was impossible because honour unquestionably came first. The Russian Emperor Alexander II

70  Spa life (1856–1881) was so close to his Prussian uncle William I that they kept personal representatives at each other’s court. These two officers had free access to the monarchs and saw them more often than the ambassadors. Alexander grew fond of his uncle’s aide General von Werder and spent much time talking to him. William I let Bismarck read Werder’s letters from St. Petersburg, but the chancellor was disappointed. When Bismarck reproached Werder because his letters to William I had little political information, the general replied: ‘The things the Tsar tells me as a friend, I cannot repeat even to my King’.31 Not everyone lived up to all of these norms, but they were generally accepted, and an open defiance of the taboos led to becoming a déclassé, ‘that sad middle state where recognition is withheld both by the upper and the lower worlds’.32 Every member of the nobility could repeat after the Swiss Count de Saint George: ‘From my father I learned the saying noblesse oblige and that if you cherish the name you bear, you have to show that you are worthy of it’,33 but to understand what stood behind this formula, we turn to an ancient French family, the de Gramonts, and the principles they instilled in their daughter: We taught her that money alone does not make happiness, although greatly contributes to it; that the higher one’s position, the more duties and responsibilities one has; that one should do good to all those around, but with discernment … that one should always be very leery of flatterers and believe only a thousandth part of what they say …; that one should not repeat gossip, which does not mean that one should not listen, observe and use the information to one’s advantage; that one should never lie, that one should always think before speaking, but one should not always say everything one thinks.34 The elite’s opinion of the new rich is well illustrated in literature. A French diplomat wrote in the 1880s about French bourgeois: ‘drunk on their success, the so called business world … went overboard in valuing nothing but money, in frequently ignoring national goals. … Personal interest has sometimes made them forget about the interests of the country’.35 An English nobleman explained further that the ‘traders … have no bond of union, no habit of intercourse; their wives, if they care for society, want to see not the wives of other such men, but “better people” as they say – the wives of men certainly with land and, if Heaven help, with the titles’.36 Their ambition to leave behind their own class showed how little self-esteem and dignity social climbers had. When they first arrived at a spa, bankers, brokers and rentiers did not know what to do with themselves apart from water-drinking. ‘Business people used to daily work are bored and begin to grumble. If they rent a horse and go for a ride, they are unused to riding and complain of exhaustion. They are capable of stopping halfway to a place of interest that was recommended to them and return to their inn, complaining that the excursion was not worth it.’ In short, the author concludes, ‘to enjoy an opera it is not enough to have paid a fortune for a theatre box, one must also understand music’.37 Thrown together with the

Spa society  71 bourgeois in the reduced space of a spa, the upper classes were bored. In 1817, two young ­Russians came to take sea baths at a modest German Baltic resort and found themselves among Lűbeck merchants and Holstein farmers. The men talked shop; their wives had no conversation, were always knitting stockings and on Sundays danced on the lawn. The Russians left very soon.38 Pleasure-seeking required not only money and leisure but a habit of being carefree, a talent for inventing amusements and pleasures, and a certain style in enjoying them, which could only be acquired by upbringing. ‘Austrian society is surprisingly gay … all they are concerned about is inventing new amusements and they are always ready to play. It must be excellent for health’, the wife of the Russian foreign minister reported from Carlsbad.39 Only the nobility had the leisure to cultivate this talent, and they displayed it only among their own.

Cosmopolis In 1876, Bertal, observing the spa society, hoped that ‘perpetual rubbing against other nations will gradually dull the sharp corners’ of European society, reduce conflicts and so will serve peace.40 François Guizot defined the 19th-century cosmopolitanism in a letter to a Russian friend: ‘More than ever I am a French patriot, but I have always believed and still believe in a shared spiritual motherland, independent of territories and origins, and my experience as well as my most cherished memories tell me that life’s most precious gifts may come from what one calls ‘abroad’.41 As Grace Brockington points out, it was a general hope of the century that frequent cultural exchanges would lead to common understanding.42 Indeed, an Englishwoman brought up on the continent felt at home among foreigners: ‘next to the French she loved the Russians, many of whom she met in Paris, Nice and later in Homburg and Baden-Baden’.43 The British Marchioness Ripon, a member of Queen Alexandra’s circle, divided her time between England, Italy and France. She wrote to her friend from Salsomaggiore about the group she spent most of the time with: the Russian Countess Kleinmichel, ‘the charming [Count] Zubov’, the counsellor of the Russian embassy in Paris, the notorious Italian Marchesa Casati and Casati’s Russian friend Madame Soldatenkova.44 This rubbing of shoulders at spas inevitably gave rise to national stereotyping. The French who met the Spanish at spas concluded that the Spanish were beautiful, elegant and amiable but kept to themselves; they danced and took walks only with their own. American women were known to begin their European tour by coming to Paris to order dresses and only then went to a spa. All were reputed to be fabulously rich, many were handsome, and they usually had many admirers. They were sociable, eager to be included in the smart set and were seen everywhere.45 Russian men, ‘the boyards’, as the French nicknamed them, were generous with money and promiscuous. Women were intelligent, imaginative, distinguished, flirty and charming. They danced, went on excursions and ‘they welcome whatever they find: affection, friendship or love’. A Frenchman summarized: ‘At waters, as everywhere else, Russian ladies are a welcome addition.

72  Spa life They are sometimes accused of being flighty, but then, how dare men criticize women for inconstancy?’46 The cosmopolitans were not uncritically fond of other nations. Princess Radziwill found that Austrian ladies were very loud and screamed instead of talking. She found it odd that both men and women smoked cigars.47 A Rumanian diplomat summed up his impressions of Austrians: ‘When one first sees them one is charmed by their beautiful manners and what I can only describe as their encyclopaedic polish. This prevents one realizing their hopeless nonentity’.48 The young Russian Duchess de Morny observed the behaviour of the Spanish mother of Empress Eugenie and declared, mixing French and Russian: ‘Du prostoi, toujours du prostoi …’ [common, so very common …].49 In 1914, a French aristocrat recorded in his diary: ‘Nice is much less elegant – even the chic cocottes left, no English. Only northern Germans, very common’.50 The owner of the London scandal newssheet Truth Henry Labouchere, who spent his youth at the German gambling spas, wrote that ‘Russians were like monkeys, eager to copy the manners of civilised Europe, but … the copy they succeeded in producing was a daub, and not a picture, because they always exaggerated their originals. … When they copy Englishmen they are like grooms, and Frenchmen – they are like dancing masters’.51 Nor did the British like the ‘transatlantic shrillness’ of the Americans who filled Homburg during the high season.52 A Frenchman criticized the English he met during excursions at a spa. They showed no consideration for other walkers because they ‘consider that if they paid a guide, they own the mountain’,53 and they believed themselves unsurpassed sportsmen and ‘think that if there is a slightly challenging excursion, they are the only ones capable of doing it’. In short, he concluded, they were wrong to think that money paid for the privilege of being rude.54 Sometimes British visitors at continental spas shocked other guests: in the late 1850s, one of the Churchills created a sensation at Baden-Baden by stripping himself naked on moonlit nights to play the flute in front of his window.55 He added a memorable detail to the stereotype of un lord anglais on the continent.

Peer group And yet, as Michel Pinçon said about the old elites, ‘they are part of a whole, that of the dominant position’,56 and it mattered much more than their individual or ethnic differences. The elite formed a homogenous society, and it became more so as it closed ranks against the intrusion of the parvenus. The insiders usually enjoyed easy relations with one another. A man who spent his life trying to make his way into French high society explained with wistful admiration that ‘[Noble] … [b]irth, indeed, creates relations that cannot be improvised’.57 Their bond was based on shared traditions, education and pursuits.58 An Italian diplomat pointed out that British aristocracy looked upon Austrians and Hungarians as ‘very nice people’ because they gave shooting parties and were fond of horses, and he said, ‘stupid as these reasons seem, they nevertheless, helped Austria with official England during the [world] war’.59

Spa society  73 A journalist observed the relations between Henry Labouchere and the British upper-class members in Marienbad. Labouchere’s long campaign against high-placed scoundrels and ‘his hobby of exposing rogues and endeavouring to open the eyes of fools’60 resulted in many rows and libel suits. ‘He was the enfant terrible of English politics, but he belonged to the class that he attacked, and in Marienbad, he was on the best of terms with people who shared none of his views’.61

Packing for a spa For a woman a trip to a spa was a major event. In town she did not go out in the morning, unless she did charity work for the poor. She rarely walked, and she never did so unaccompanied by a footman or a companion. If by chance she found herself alone in the street, she knew not to stop in front of shop windows because an insolent man might offer to buy her a piece of jewelry in exchange for her favours.62 Modesty, reserve and haughty aloofness went hand in hand with cautious coquetry. It manifested itself in the details of a woman’s toilette: a narrow ribbon which young ladies turned twice around their white necks was called ‘follow me, young man’,63 and a bonnet with a drooping brim was known as ‘kiss-me-quick’. The ideal woman of the early and mid-19th century was fragile, and fashion emphasized her ethereal quality: ‘scarves and shawls flutter like wings. Laces rustle, fringes undulate, ruffles tremble, small busts raise like pistils above the corolla of the skirt, and in the fast moves of waltzes and polkas, the vast crinolines swell on one side like the sails of a beautiful ship’.64 In the 1860s, the crinoline – ‘an enormous overturned wineglass’ as Baudelaire called it – ensured that a lady walked very slowly, usually hanging on to her husband’s or brother’s arm. Besides the teas from five to seven, riding, music and amateur theatricals, a society woman presided over a charitable society, sponsored exhibitions; she accompanied her husband to sports shows because he owned a stable of race horses. She also went to or hosted dinners, attended endless sessions at couture houses, receptions at the Academy, golf and tennis parties which in the 19th century were popular among society women. There were hunting parties in the fall, involving a stay at the family country seat. Going through it all could easily bring about exhaustion. Exhaustion required a rest. A spa stay broke this rigid routine. ‘An honest married woman’s life’, as a Parisian husband believed, should be ‘[a] peaceful, regular existence: no late evenings, no flirting at her friend’s five-o-clock teas; no one-piece riding habits; no amateur theatricals or romantic duos under the flimsy pretext that music spiritualizes everything’.65 All these things, endangering family life, she could do at a spa. Here she spent most of her time outdoors, and often alone, because there was little risk of running into unsuitable persons or wandering into an unsuitable place. She visited shops, the Kurhaus, went on excursions, attended concerts. And encouraged by the admiring looks of the gentlemen around, ladies changed toilettes three to four times a day.

74  Spa life Spas in high season were the places to exhibit the latest fashion trends. In 1877, the local newspaper brought to the ladies of Leeds the new sensation of the Aix-les-Bains fashionable world: ‘a silk dress cuir naturel [colour of untanned leather] … having a tunic and trimmings of cream coloured silk gauze with dark stripes embroidered with stars. Lower edge of dress trimmed with plissés, fanshape, also of silk, three colours – cream, caroubier [brown], vert [green]. Fancy straw bonnets with red, trimmed with green satin ribbon’.66 In 1898, another paper reported that red was the colour of the season, and ladies in Carlsbad wore short red coats with fitted tweed skirts, red hats trimmed with currants or cherries and red parasols.67 Thus, a lady began her preparations for a spa cure weeks before the date of departure by ordering a whole trousseau: gowns for the evening and serge skirts for walks, bathing costumes, shoes for walking and for dancing, hats, cloaks and jackets. Getting the new gowns from one of the great Parisian couturiers – Worth or Paquin – and a riding habit from Redfern alone took two weeks. She ordered by the dozen new gloves with 10–12 buttons, embroidered and plain stockings of all colours.68 Packing for a fashionable spa like Baden-Baden, the guests had to think of the balls and dinners honoured by the royal presence, to which women had to wear jewels, and men wore either uniforms or tails and all the orders of merit they had. The wife of a diplomat had expected Baden-Baden in mid-October would be deserted, but it was full of Prussian, Swedish and Russian royals: ‘you see in what tumult I have fallen! And I have no gowns, no diamonds with me!’69 Gentlemen leaving for a spa needed flannels, hats and patent leather shoes. They had to think of riding and tennis costumes. Black tail coats and trousers worn with white waistcoats were necessary for the evenings. They also brought dozens of gloves, grey, pale-yellow and white, because outdoors and during visits everyone wore gloves. The poorer people had them cleaned; the wealthy threw away the soiled ones and put on a fresh pair.70 At a spa men wore soft, broad-brimmed hats, one of the popular models was even called the ‘Homburg’. Straw hats were strictly for countryside, as were knickerbockers, woollen socks and heavy boots for excursions. Hunters and fishermen brought their equipment and tackle with them. And, of course, ladies brought their maids and gentlemen their valets, who would take care of their clothes and footwear, help them dress and undress and run errands. A lady could not do without a maid because she could not get dressed or undressed by herself. Every morning she put on drawers, a chemise, a corset with a sleeveless shirt over it, a starched lawn petticoat, a taffeta petticoat, and finally, the gown itself. It was 20 cm narrower than a woman’s trunk, and only an experienced maid managed to squeeze her mistress into it. When her mistress needed to change, a maid undid dozens of tiny buttons on her gown, twenty-two flat buttons on the chemise and the petticoats, unhooked thirty-three hooks on each of a lady’s boots, undid the garters that sustained her stockings and unlaced the corset on her back. The 1900s saw the disappearance of the corset and the emergence of the columnar, ‘Egyptian’ silhouette. Fashion and the way in which women moved and

Spa society  75 acted had a reciprocal relationship: as women were transforming themselves from fragile dolls into men’s companions, the new dressing style reflected it. Tennis costumes and bicycling skirts that women brought to resorts at the turn of the century were one symptom of change.

The arrival When passengers stepped out of the train onto the platform, they were surrounded by the porters with the names of hotels gilt-lettered on their caps. From this moment on, the newly arrived were assaulted by tradesmen offering services and merchandise, shouting: ‘We want your custom, we are the only honest ones in this place!’71 The smart set stayed at a grand hotel or at a previously rented villa. The middle class looked for a modest inn or furnished rooms after arrival. Meeting the trains to see the new arrivals was the daily entertainment.72 Spa residents strolled up and down the platform or in front of the train station eyeing the passengers and exchanged the usual questions: ‘Who is he?’, ‘Where is she from?’ A newcomer’s calibre was instantly gauged. A lady arrived from the train station in a carriage, piled with a dozen brand-new suitcases and hatboxes engraved with her initials and a morocco leather travelling sack that her maid carried. As she got off the train, a lady wore a cloak over her morning gown, gloves and a fresh hat. Ugly hats, crumpled dresses, suitcases tied with rope and a hand-written address glued to the suitcase were hopelessly middle class.73 Even the children at fashionable spas like Baden-Baden imitated the adults by breaking into ‘chic’ and ‘less chic’ bands.74

Easing into the routine The next day news about the interesting new arrivals would spread. The morning after the arrival, a clerk brought to the guests a registry book where the local authorities asked to indicate their names, titles, home address and age. The right kind of credentials guaranteed one an interesting social life during the whole stay, for the registration entry was copied in the official weekly list of arrivals, available at casinos and hotels to all. The lists included the address at which the person stayed and whether he or she came alone.75 It was important to present the information in such a way as to attract the ‘right’ people and discourage the ‘wrong’ ones. Writing too much spoke of an inferiority complex. Writing too little might seem suspicious. For a well-connected woman it sufficed to write ‘Countess X, 29 years’. (There was a joke that at a spa countesses were never older than 29.)76 Men wrote down their present or past occupation: general or retired general, deputy or ex-deputy of parliament, clergyman, and so on. Adventurers and impostors of both sexes registered as barons/baronesses or counts/ countesses. Then the visitor appeared in the promenade. In the morning, the Cannes promenade was taken over by the chefs in white coats who returned from the market, preceded by sturdy tanned peasants who carried baskets with vegetables

76  Spa life and fruit on their heads. English grooms, popular among the French aristocracy, walked horses covered with blankets as a warm-up for their routine rides. Nannies walked children, ladies walked their dogs and servants pushed old people in wheelchairs. At 11 am lunch time arrived, and the crowds moved from the promenade to restaurants. Hotels had their tables d’hôte on the ground floor, and as the doors of hotels in Cannes, for example, were always wide open in daytime and the French windows had no curtains, the passers-by could see the diners. At 3 pm ladies and older gentlemen were rolling through the promenade in open carriages, and young girls and gentlemen were riding horses with an umbrella in their hands. From time to time a Russian droshky with a bearded Russian coachman drove by. The ladies in these exotic carriages were the beauties from the North: with their faces ‘white and rosy, features slightly sharp, like those of a marten, pale-golden hair and eyes of a deep greenish blue … with a white fur covering their knees.’ On both sides of the droshky usually rode two Russian gentlemen of the wellknown type: with short and straight noses, their moustaches joining their sideburns as seen on the portraits of Alexander II, broad chests and an appearance both haughty and attractive. Parisian cocottes, accompanied by solemn-faced grooms, drove in carriages, showing off their new gowns of light brown faille. At 6 pm the ringing of the bells in hotels, churches and villas, announced dinner time.77 At 8 pm, after dinner, the guests drove out to the old port to breathe the sea air and ended up at the casinos.78

Finding company A contemporary sighed: ‘The life at the waters, which should be a life of far niente, is always tempestuous’.79 Besides a schedule of treatments, there was the obligation of paying visits to one’s acquaintances. Arriving in Carlsbad, the wife of the Russian foreign minister Nesselrode at once found herself in the midst of old acquaintances; Prince Schwarzenberg, the princes Clary, Countess Palffy and Countess Esterhazy, her French friend Princess de Rohan.80 They introduced her to the Duchess of Cumberland’.81 She rejoiced that ‘one meets people that one has not seen for ages’: Austrian, Prussian and Russian diplomats.82 Thrown together in a small town, visitors of the same social rank struck up friendships easily. In the 1840s, young Helmuth von Moltke undertook a long journey to Pyrmont by express coach. He started a conversation with a passenger next to him and thought himself lucky because his neighbour ‘had been in Brazil, Archangel, Havannah and the North Cape, and … [his] conversation entertained me greatly.’ The next day he went on a donkey excursion with his new acquaintance and his family.83 The continental custom was to maintain general conversation around the table,84 and a table d’hôte made it impossible to ignore one’s neighbours at the table. When hotel guests took meals together for several weeks, introductions were obligatory. Fifty years later, a lady from St. Petersburg with serious interests joined a ‘political circle’ at Carlsbad. The circle included several Russian statesmen,

Spa society  77 the Russian statesman Count Petr Shuvalov, the Russian minister to Saxony Aleksandr Nelidov and the German ambassador to St. Petersburg General von Schweinitz. All these gentlemen revolved around the elegant Countess Toll, the wife of the Russian minister to Denmark, and her two daughters, both of whom, unsurprisingly, later married diplomats.85 New friendships could be forged by using the names of mutual acquaintances for the first introductions. When Princess Daria Lieven, hostess of a Parisian political salon, arrived at a spa, she immediately looked for a ressource – an interesting person to talk with. Once at Schlangenbad she noticed a man whose name sounded vaguely familiar and recalled that her son had mentioned that he was acquainted with a lady of the same name. ‘An excellent password’, Mme. Lieven decided, and sent the gentleman an invitation, on behalf of her son, to visit her. Five minutes later he arrived.86 An acquaintance was made. People met at large balls organized at the casino or at smaller ones at the hotels. The hotel administration might also invite a few locals and guests from other hotels to ensure there were enough dancing partners for all.87 Throwing balls was one of the effective ways of gaining admittance into the smart set. In Elinor Glyn’s novel, a moneybag arrived at a spa with a ‘godfather’, an impoverished nobleman who provided him with introductions to the smart people. To cement the new acquaintance the moneybag then invited them to a ball. He made it known that the ball was to cost thousands of francs, that the cotillion ‘favours’ were ordered from Paris and that his ‘social adviser’ was in charge of the organization.88 The grounds of a rented castle were lit up by electricity, and part of the lake was made to look as a Venetian canal. The ladies were in silk and lace, the gentlemen wore their decorations – medals and orders. Some even put on their uniforms, on the host’s request, to give colour to the ballroom.89 The ballroom was draped in the national flags of Switzerland, where the episode took place, and the United States (the host was an American). The dinner and the band came from a nearby hotel. There was a champagne fountain in the refreshment room. A room for baccarat was set for gentlemen. Older ladies ate ices, drank champagne and gossiped in a salon. At midnight the guests danced a cotillion, the ‘favours’ were distributed, and at 2 am they sat down to dinner at tête-à-tête tables, with a waiter to every table. The guests returned to their hotels at dawn.90 Conversation houses and casinos (in their original meaning of social clubs) were set up to help the guests to meet each other. To use the facilities of a casino, spa guests joined its membership and brought letters of reference. There were also fashion and style requirements for those who attended them. People wanted to make acquaintance only with those of their own social class, and social filtering at spas ensured that one met mostly ‘the right kind of people’. Concerts and balls at casinos were the places for exhibiting the unmarried daughters’ talents. It was also traditional for the spa casinos to offer children’s dancing lessons and children’s balls, where children learned and practised the social conventions,91 supervised by their nannies and governesses. Many introductions were made around the buvette (the pump-room) or in the promenade. A sudden summer rain made the ladies strolling around the drinking

78  Spa life fountain seek shelter under their husbands’ or brothers’ umbrellas. A mother and a daughter stayed under the tent, while the crowd dispersed. A gentleman offered them his umbrella. They refused, he insisted and, the conventions satisfied, they accepted. Then he asked permission to call on them the next day to pick up his umbrella. The mother told him their names and address. He introduced himself, and so the acquaintance was made.

Kept women at spas Bringing a mistress to a spa was a tradition and part of the restorative regime, but a man did not introduce her to his acquaintances. A diplomat had to live somewhat apart from the merry Carlsbad crowd because he had his mistress with him and she could not meet anyone.92 A man whose mistress spoke to him of a ‘quiet stay’, on the seaside, exclaimed: ‘Impossible! Sorry to deny you this, but in Trouville I would run into half of my family’.93 Finding themselves among complete strangers, lovers usually pretended they were married. A mistress of the Belgian king Leopold II, Blanche Delacroix, described her stay at Gastein spa. She was a little more than 20 to his rather unprepossessing mid-60s, but ‘Whether bald, one-eyed or hunchbacked, kings are handsome’.94 During their first meeting in Paris, the king told the young woman to prepare for a journey. The next day a messenger brought her two suitcases, a toilet-bag and a briefcase of red morocco leather, all embossed with an ‘R’. The briefcase contained money and an envelope with instructions: she would travel to Austria under the name of Countess Rienzi.95 She got off the Orient Express at the small Alpine station of Gastein, surrounded by tall, shady trees and flowerbeds with red geraniums. Two gentlemen in black met her and took her to a hotel. The drawing room of her suite filled with roses had three doors: one led to the bedroom, the other into the hallway. She had no time to wonder about the third door when it opened and the king came in. It was their first meeting in privacy. He did not ask her whether she liked his arrangements; it was taken for granted, and the memoirist acknowledged that ‘comfort is half of happiness’.96 Leopold II considered their liaison a secret, although his mistress says that everyone knew about it. Every morning in the park Leopold met the king of Rumania and stopped his carriage for a chat. Blanche remained in the carriage facing the king’s aide. On some days the king of Rumania ignored her; on others he acknowledged her presence by raising his hat. In this case Leopold mentioned that he happened to meet this lady in the park and invited her to accompany him,97 but there were no introductions. At the hotel restaurant they dined at separate tables, and he never looked her way during the meals.98 Only after his queen died did Leopold begin to invite a few acquaintances to his mistress’s Riviera house. A St. Petersburg ballerina Matilda Kshessinskaya had been the mistress of Nicholas II before he was married, after which she latched on to Nicholas’s cousin, Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich, and later was shared by this magnanimous lover with another, still younger Romanov, Grand Duke Andrey Vladimirovich.

Spa society  79 She had a son whose paternity was unclear, and while she had a joint household with Grand Duke Sergey in St. Petersburg, she travelled abroad with Andrey and regularly stayed at the Riviera villa that he bought for her. In her old age Matilda recalled: At the beginning of the Passion Week we went to Cannes as usual and Andrey and Vova [her son] went to our beautiful church. We stayed at the newly built hotel Carlton. On Easter Sunday, after the church service, I arranged the traditional reception in the large dining room of the hotel. I ordered paskhas and Easter breads in the local bakery Rumpelmeyer. The owner was a Mecklenburg German, but he baked Easter breads wonderfully because the Russian colony in the south of France was numerous and wealthy. When we returned to the hotel from the church, the tables were set.99 Kshessinskaya’s guests at this feast were other kept women and bachelors or married men who came without their wives. Much as she tried to widen her social circle, she was not accepted, and her grand dukes went into society alone.

Spa romance Aleksandr Ivanovich Nelidov wrote from Constantinople at the height of the Eastern crisis of 1876–1878: ‘… my poor wife’s … nerves are at a low ebb and she needs a treatment and a strict physical regime, and on the other hand, a tranquil and calming life in a pleasant environment. The first goal can be achieved by a cure at Marienbad’.100 So, Mme. Nelidova went to Marienbad – alone, because her husband could not leave his post. She joined a large category of married ladies who came to a spa alone and had to be careful to give no food to gossip. It made a great difference to spa social life that a woman could come with a female friend, or even alone – that is, with a maid and, perhaps, a footman who walked behind her in the street. Flirting and love affairs were traditional distractions that filled an idle existence called the ‘salutary regime’. According to Baron de Nervo: Everything is done differently at a spa: in town a romance moves slowly through stages: first, separated by a distance a man and a woman observe each other and dream, then they begin to form hopes, then distance is gradually reduced and bitter disappointments alternate with charming surprises and delightful discoveries. Finally they come together. … Here, on the waters, the history of love consists of hours, minutes and seconds of which not a single one is to be lost.101 Arsène Houssaye echoed him: ‘All passions should make pilgrimages to the waters or to the seaside. It is their true place – all the troubles are left behind: there are neither creditors, nor household members, nor bores’.102 Honoré de Balzac, Ivan Turgenev, Guy de Maupassant, Anton Chekhov and Stefan Zweig plotted

80  Spa life their novels and stories around the same situation: a married woman ‘on holiday’ from her family meets a handsome stranger. Gentlemen came to spas anticipating conquests. An expert woman-chaser, un homme à femmes, the Duke de Morny did not believe that his rather unprepossessing appearance and the bald spot were handicaps. He acted on the principle that women had neither taste nor preferences where men were concerned but followed impulse and whims. He began by banter and laughing skirmishes. Little by little, he obtained from a woman a series of concessions that would lead to her surrender. ‘He was good at … choosing the right moment and he managed relationships so well that without any effort he indeed came to possess many beautiful women – mostly foreigners, because he preferred brief affairs, instead of long-term liaisons’.103 Spas were a perfect place for a man of Morny’s tastes. Stefan Zweig described two typical figures at the Austrian resort Semmering: a young titled official from Vienna ‘was one of those young men who, thanks to their handsome appearance, are popular and always interested in a new amorous conquest; nothing throws them off, because they calculate every move beforehand. … Such men are often called women hunters … because they stalk their prey with the same eagerness and heartlessness.’ His chosen prey was a wellto-do Viennese bourgeoise who brought her convalescent son to the resort: The lady was dressed well and tastefully … a somewhat plump Jewess at the peak of her mature beauty, obviously passionate, but ably disguising it under a mask of poetic melancholy. … [He] admired the outline of her eyebrows, her finely chiselled nose. … Her hair, like the rest of her, was abundant. Here undoubtedly was a woman satiated with admiration, confident of herself and her charms.104 The lure of the unknown worked like magic. In the evening, after everyone has finished their dinner, the dining room of a hotel is almost deserted. A young Englishman is sipping port, preparing to leave, when he hears a rustle of silk by his side and the smell of tuberoses makes him look up: a woman in black glides by his table. Her wide-brimmed hat prevents him from seeing her face, except for her red chiselled mouth. He takes a better look at the stranger and sees that ‘[a] single sapphire gleamed through the folds of gauze on her neck and there were two in her ears.’ When she takes off her gloves he sees a sapphire ring on her finger, too. He notices the extraordinary deference of the staff and is intrigued.105 The stage is set. A spa romance ended with the departure of one of the lovers. Men usually initiated spa romances, but one often forgets that self-confidence made aristocratic women as bold as men. A contemporary referred to ‘the permissiveness of the great ladies who believe that whatever happens below the waist has nothing to do with the delicacy of their feelings’.106 Spas were the most convenient place for lovers to meet. Marchioness of Ripon – a celebrated, but by the 1900s rather overripe London beauty – began an affair with a younger official of the Russian foreign ministry. It was conducted

Spa society  81 mostly through letters, which must have been convenient for Aleksandr Savinsky. He was a homosexual, so his interest in Lady Gwladys was probably part shared tastes (music and arts) and part vanity: she was a member of the European smart set that revolved around the British and the Russian royal families. They exchanged souvenirs and compliments, but whenever Lady Gwladys planned a meeting in St, Petersburg or London, he discouraged her. The most he agreed to was an occasional meeting in Paris or at spas. So, Lady Gwladys took care to let him know in advance of her plans for a spa cure. In August 1910, she wrote to Savinsky from Evian-les-Bains that she took her ailing husband there, but in October she would go for her own cure, alone.107 At spas conventions were somewhat eased for the most closely watched group, young girls. The French upper class was the strictest with their daughters, but Mme. de Clermont-Tonnerre spoke from experience: ‘If Paris was inaccessible to young girls, foreign towns were less so’.108 One young man became interested in a girl he saw at the source. Her mother and her sister liked to sleep in, so she came alone to take her morning glass of water. He regularly left the hotel early in the morning to meet her. The girl was consumptive; she considered herself doomed, and her only dream was ‘To love and die’. She complained to the young man that she was engaged to a banker back home in Rotterdam and pleaded, ‘Please, ask my father for my hand!’ The gentleman glibly answered, ‘Let’s not talk of Rotterdam, of your father, or the banker. Let’s talk about your beautiful eyes!’ and the seduction routine went ahead.109 At spas aristocratic parents might even allow their daughters to spend time in the company of young men who had been properly introduced. Social taboos prevented most men from getting bold with girls of their own class, whose families they knew. The Russian-born Duchess Sasso-Ruffo allowed her beautiful daughter Elsa to meet unchaperoned a junior Russian diplomat who was in love with her. Usually, spending much time with the same person at a spa meant that the couple was engaged, but in this case the duchess did not think that her daughter’s reputation would suffer. Later, the young man wrote: ‘MG is surprised that the Duchess often left us alone in Baden. I explained that we were going to part so soon’.110

Marriage market Many guests came to resorts looking for a spouse: ‘A nobleman is looking for a wife: he knows he has assets and it would be foolish to let them go to waste. He wants to marry a millionairess’.111 The duty of a nobleman or a noblewoman was to marry into a bloodline of comparable or higher distinction, or to marry wealth in order to further the family interests. So, the whole family was actively involved in arranging a good marriage for one of their own. The factors in such a marriage were pedigree, health, rent, inheritance, reputation, the known infidelities and marital separations of the members of a family. It made international spas useful to families with marriageable children.

82  Spa life Some daughters were unmarriageable – ‘they have too many assets and at the same time too few: too much past, too little present and no future’.112 A girl of 20 was considered a bit past her prime; she had been out in society three years and her first bloom of youth had worn off. A girl of 25 was a spinster with ‘too much past’, even if the past was solely that of accompanying her parents to the seaside. In all cases, the parents’ tactic was to have their daughters go everywhere to be seen. The races at the pretty Luchon hippodrome, for example, were popular because the ladies in the public raised their veils as they were watching the horses; there was much laughter and chattering, and acquaintances were easily struck. Parents entered their girls into the casino contests for the most elegant gown, the best style, the most becoming colours and the most graceful attitudes. These contests attracted crowds and allowed the participants to show themselves off. Meanwhile, an older relative started a rumour about the size of the girl’s dowry113 and discreetly investigated the prospects of a young man who seemed interested in her.

Spas as hiding places Medical treatment was an impeccable pretext for a married lady to leave her husband’s side. In the 1830s, seeing that conflicts between his youngest brother Mikhail and his wife Elena were chronic and damaging to both, the Russian Emperor Nicholas I decided to spare them nervous breakdowns by keeping them apart for most of the year. The family physician informed her husband that in his opinion the grand duchess needed to go to spas alone, for she needed ‘tranquility and a perfect stay’ first at Carlsbad, then at another spa.114 The grand duchess was sent abroad for extended spa treatments in the spring and her husband in the fall. On the way to a spa, the grand duchess consulted physicians in Vienna or Berlin about the recommended cures. She reported to her friend: Busch, whom I saw first, wanted very much to make me undertake a cure at Homburg prior to the one at Ischl, but Schonlein … found that this remedy was too violent for my exhausted organism and sent me to Ischl, just as the original plan had been. … My stay in Ischl is extended till September, at which point Schonlein will come to convince himself of the results of the cure and decide about my return to Russia in winter.115 An intelligent and active woman, she used her months abroad to inform herself of political and social trends in her native Germany and meet with prominent statesmen and scholars from Germany and France. The Romanovs began to value her knowledge of German affairs. She also recruited for her Russian causes European economists, physicians, musicians and scientists whom she met on her trips. Fashionable spas became the places of voluntary or forced exile among European aristocracy. Princess Yourievsky, the morganatic widow of Emperor Alexander II, did not want to live in St. Petersburg because the new emperor refused to treat her as one of the family, and she would not accept anything less.

Spa society  83 Her son-in-law wrote: ‘Life for her had stopped the day the Nihilists threw the bombs that killed her royal husband and prevented her from becoming Empress of Russia’.116 She spent most of the year in Biarritz or in Nice, where she met with other residents or visited Russian ladies for lunch, dinners and bridge parties. The Austrian Emperor Francis-Joseph II ordered his relative Princess Louise of Saxe-Cobourg to leave the capital when her adultery became the scandal of Vienna. Attempting to disguise her humiliating expulsion as a health concern, she went to Carlsbad, then to Meran and finally to Nice.117 Spas were also a well-known place for ‘curing’ secret pregnancies. When a physician diagnosed a girl from a good family as pregnant, he immediately prescribed her an extended spa stay. She was dispatched there with a maid and, perhaps, a discreet elderly female relative who would chaperone her. After giving birth, the baby was farmed out to a nurse in one of the villages surrounding the spa, and the mother would return ‘cured’ to her family.118 And finally, spas attracted the ladies and gentlemen of reduced means. Out of season, the Riviera was warm enough and cheap enough for a widow of a Russian diplomat who was saving every penny so that her son at St. Petersburg would have a lifestyle worthy of his family name. Marina Ionina wrote from San Remo in December: I am trying to save, my concern is how I shall manage after your graduation, so that we would not be ruined and lose our [social] position, as it can help your career. … As for [the rumour] that I left you in order to have a good time abroad, you know that I would much rather have stayed in Petersburg with you if I could do so in a reasonable style.119 At a spa she could still maintain the acquaintances in the set to which her husband had introduced her, but in St. Petersburg where she could not return their hospitality, she would have had to drop out. A few years later, facing another solitary Christmas at a deserted Italian resort, she repeated: ‘This life, this spinning in a void, is very hard on me, [but] I cannot live in Petersburg because of the climate and the expenses’.120

Crisis of conscience and spas’ reputation When business interests compelled spa authorities to banish beggars and ragamuffins, the resulting pretty and safe landscape produced a mixed feeling in more sensitive people. On one hand, it was a relief to find that “the poor were not with us always.” On the other hand, the ‘paradise’ of the idle rich violated the natural order of life and offended the religious and ethical feeling of those who associated the filtered, festive spa crowd with ostentation, extravagance, idleness and dissolution. In 1885, at the time of Queen Victoria’s visit to A ­ ix-les-Bains, the Reynolds’s Newspaper published an angry letter, headed ‘Rags and Royalty’. It stated that Victoria’s publicized journey with

84  Spa life its unnecessary expense and pomp offset the miserable condition of the poor in England. The author of the letter put side by side the reports from London slums and the descriptions of the royal progress (a flotilla of yachts followed the queen’s yacht to France) and called them ‘flaunting wealth in the face of the poor’.121 To make it worse, gambling and excesses of high living became inseparable from the image of spas in the 1840s, and spas began to be viewed as the modern Babylon. In his old age, the old rake Henry Labouchere nostalgically said: ‘The ragtag and bobtail of all nations resorted to … [Wiesbaden]’122 Not everyone shared his nostalgia. Evangelical missionaries tried to awaken the Christian conscience of the casino visitors. Rev. Mr. Spurgeon who toured Europe in 1860 was relieved to see that at Baden-Baden ‘opposite the house where sin and wickedness reigned there was an agent of the Bible Society selling Bibles and Testaments …a little battery erected right before the fortifications of Satan’.123 But he seems to have been the only one who noticed, which says a lot about the impact of this well-meant mission. Some found it exhilarating that [e]verything here is dedicated to enjoyment; health is the supreme concern and pleasure seems to be the only business … it is customary to consider that waters are the remedy for the healthy, and indeed, the only ailments that are certainly cured at spas are melancholy, boredom, satiety and perhaps love. One drinks copiously, eats expensive food and gambles big time.124

Figure 3.1  Sem, Monaco casino, 1900. Wikimedia Commons.

Spa society  85 Others, like the Colombian traveller Samper, were shocked that the rulers of small German duchies and principalities ‘speculated on vice and vanity’ and let their palaces be converted into casinos. Gambling houses with their doors permanently open to Europe, contribute so much to the healing powers of the medicinal waters of Baden-Baden, Wiesbaden, Homburg and other German towns of the Rhine region. I confess that when I see European governments that enrich themselves by setting up lotteries, gambling houses, stock exchanges and other similar institutions, I do not understand why they bother to prosecute confidence tricksters.125 Samper thundered in his travelogue: ‘invalids who need hydrotherapeutic treatment are a visible minority. The immense majority, as I have seen everywhere are two categories of people: the simply idle, vain popinjays, who are generally inoffensive and therefore insignificant, and gentlemen and ladies on the make, an extremely dangerous and cheeky group’.126 Turgenev’s unsympathetic portrayal of Russian aristocrats in Baden-Baden in the 1860s echoed Samper: [T]oilets of the ladies were distinguished by exquisite smartness; the cavaliers wore brand-new coats, but tight-fitting and with a well-defined waist [not the fashion of the day any more] … a low black neckcloth closely encircled the neck of each cavalier [the men were guards officers unused to wearing civilian clothes]. … Their importance was announced in every point; in their discreet ease of manner, in their gracefully majestic smiles, in the strained abstraction of their glance, in the effeminate twitching of their shoulders, in the swaying motion of their figures … it was betrayed by the very sound of their voices, which seemed to be amiably and fastidiously returning thanks to a subservient throng. All these warriors were splendidly washed, shaved, perfumed through and through with some scent or other which is the genuine appurtenance of the nobility and the Guards, a mixture of the most capital cigar smoke and the most astonishing patchouli. And all their hands were those of nobles – white, large, with nails as strong as ivory; the moustaches of all fairly shone; their teeth gleamed, and their very delicate skin was very red on the cheeks and blue on the chin.127 Reflecting the growing hostility to aristocracy, irony, if not satire, became common in the references to the spa public towards the end of the century. Their idleness was despicable; their inherited wealth and rank were both envied and condemned, and their privileges were questioned. But the new rich wanted to imitate the aristocratic lifestyle and followed them to spas.

Notes 1 E. de Clermont-Tonnerre, Memoires (Paris: Bernard Grasset, editeur, 1928), 1:101. 2 Heikki Lempa, 54. 3 Cora Pearl, Memoires de Cora Pearl (Paris: Flammarion, 1898), 46.

86  Spa life 4 Princess Vera Golitsina to Princess Z. Yusupova, 1/13.8.1880, OR RGB, 350–11–28, ll.17–19. 5 Anita Leslie, Edwardians in Love (London: Hutchinson, 1972), 50–52. 6 Arthur Meyer, Ce que je peux dire (Paris: Librairies Plon, 1912), 94. 7 Meyer, 95. 8 Meyer, 139. 9 S.D. Sazonov to D.I. Tolstoy, 9/22.5.1903, RGIA, 696–1–507, ll.66–7 ob. 10 Baron Robert de Nervo, Les memoires de mon coupé (P: Calmann Levy, 1881), 71. 11 F. Nesselrode to F. Coudenhove, 13.10.1864, Marie von Mouchanoff-Kalergis geb Grafin Nesselrode, in Briefen an ihre Tochter (Leipzig, Druck und Verlag von Breitkopf & Hartel, 1911), 142–144. 12 Maurice de Waleffe, Quand Paris était un paradis. Mémoires 1900–1939 (Paris: Société des éditions Denoël, 1947), 407. 13 Lempa, 40. 14 Nina Keller to Princess A. Obolenskaya, 13/25.7.1904 GIM, 25–2–304, ll.46–7 ob. 15 Elinor Glyn, The Letters, 43. 16 Small ethnic tribes from the Volga region. 17 Prince Shervashidze to Princess A. Obolenskaya, 10/23.8.1912, GIM, 25–2–462, ll.48–9 ob. 18 Ernest Oldmeadow, Susan (Leipzig: Tauchnitz, 1907), 64. 19 Oldmeadow, 171. 20 Glyn, The Letters, 64. 21 Ellis Wasson, Aristocracy and the Modern World (Houndsmills: Palgrave, 2006), 209. 22 Christophe Charle, ‘The Specificities of French Elites at the End of the Nineteenth Century: France Compared to Britain and Germany’, Historical Reflections 36, No. 1 (Winter 2010), 9. 23 Lempa, 53. 24 The Letters, 62. 25 Memor, ‘Entretiens retrospectifs’, Revue de France (1871), 7:279. 26 Lydia Ginzburg, Zapisnye knizhki. Vospominaniia. Esse (St. Petersburg: Iskusstvo, 2002), 70. 27 Gaito Gazdanov, Probuzhdenie (St. Petersburg: Azbuka, 2004), 398. 28 Mary King Waddington, My First Years as a French Woman (London: Smith, Elder and Co, 1914), 120. 29 Wasson, 71–72. 30 Edward R. Tannenbaum, 1900. The Generation Before the Great War (New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1976), 46. 31 The Holstein Papers. Memoirs and Political Observations (ed. Norman Rich and M. H. Fisher) (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1955), 2:55. 32 Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, 62. 33 Armand de Mestral, Une vie bien employée: Alexandre de Saint-George (Lausanne: Imprimerie Howard & Delisle, 1870), 6. 34 Eric Mension-Rigau, 370–371. 35 Comte Alexandre de Chaudordy, La France à la suite de la guerre de 1870–1871 (Paris: Plon, 1887), 8. 36 Cited in Jamie Camplin The Rise of the Plutocrats: Wealth and Power in Edwardian England. London: Constable, 1976, 19. 37 Louis Nadeau, Gergovia, le Mont-Dore et Royat: voyage en Auvergne (Paris: E. Dentu, 1862), 360. 38 D.N. Sverbeev, Moi zapiski (Moscow: Nauka, 2014), 188. 39 Maria Nesselrode to Carl Nesselrode, 1/13.7.1823, LPN, 6:145. 40 Bertal, La Vie hors de chez soi (Comédie de notre temps). L’hiver – Le Printemps – L’été – l’automne (Paris: E. Plon et Cie, 1876), 11.

Spa society  87 41 F. Guizot to Princess E. Kochubey, 19.4.1871, BA, Beloselskii-Belozerskii Papers, Box 1, 1. 42 F. Guizot to Princess E. Kochubey, 2. 43 John F. Baddeley, Russia in the ‘Eighties’: Sport and Politics (London: Longmans, Green & Co, 1921), 2. 44 Lady Ripon to A.A. Savinsky, 21.9.1911, AVPRI, 340–706–32, ll.131–133 ob. 45 Nervo, 72–73. 46 Nervo, 74. 47 Princess Radziwill, The Austrian Court from Within (New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1916), 134. 48 Take Jonescu, Some Personal Impressions (London: Nisbet and Co., 1919), 84–85. 49 Fréderic Lollié, Les Femmes du second Empire. La Fête impériale (Paris: F. Juven, 1907), 259. 50 Eric Mension-Rigau, 636. 51 A. Thorold, The Life of Henry Labouchere (Toronto: M’Clelland, Goodchild and Stewart), 51–52. 52 ‘Holidays at Homburg’, Daily News, 25.8.1900. 53 Nadeau, 311. 54 Nadeau, 349. 55 Marie Colombier, Mémoires. Fin d’Empire (Paris:E. Flammarion, 1898–1900), 164. 56 Michel Pinçon, Grand Fortunes: Dynasties of Wealth in France (New York: Algora Publishing, 1999), 247–249. 57 Meyer, 125. 58 Camplin, 19. 59 Sforza, Count Carlo Sforza, Makers of Modern Europe. Portraits and Personal Re­ collections (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1930), 299. 60 Sidney Whitman, Things I remember. The Recollections of a Political Writer in the Capitals of Europe (London: Cassel and Company, 1916), 62–63. 61 Whitman, 64. 62 Jollivet, 15. 63 Jollivet, 15. 64 Jollivet, 14. 65 Gyp, Autour du mariage (Paris: Calmann Levy, 1890), 14. 66 ‘Fashion Seen at Aix’, Leeds Mercury, 3.8.1877. 67 ‘Lines for the Ladies’, The North-Eastern Daily Gazette, 5.8.1898. 68 Nervo, 63–64. 69 F. Nesselrode to F. Coudenhove, 13.10.1864, Marie von Moukhanoff-Kalergis, 142–144. 70 Jollivet, 27. 71 Memor, ‘Entretiens retrospectifs’, 280. 72 Nervo, 79. 73 Nervo, 65. 74 M. Bashkirtzeva, Dnevnik Marii Bashkirtzevoi, (accessed on 1.12.2015), 2. 75 Lempa, 67. 76 Nervo, 67. 77 Bertal, 52–53. 78 Bertal, 54. 79 A. Houssaye, Les mille et une nuits parisiennes (Paris: E. Dentu, 1875), 150. 80 Maria Nesselrode to Carl Nesselrode, 21.7.1823, A. Nesselrode (ed.), Lettres et papiers du chancelier comte de Nesselrode, 1760–1850: Extraits de ses archives (Paris: Lahure, 1904), 6:147. 81 Maria Nesselrode to Carl Nesselrode, 1/13.7.1823, LPN, 6:145.

88  Spa life 82 Maria Nesselrode to Carl Nesselrode, 27.7.1823, LPN, 6:148–149. 83 Count von Moltke to his fiancée, 23.08.1841, Count Helmuth von Moltke, Letters to His Wife and Other Relatives (ed. Sydney Whitman) (London: Paul, Trübner, 1896), 1:26–27. 84 The Letters, 56. 85 E.N. Naryshkina, Under Three Tsars (London: E.P. Dutton, 1931), 88. 86 Princess Lieven to Lord Aberdeen, 11.8.1850, The Correspondence of Lord Aberdeen and Princess Lieven 1832–1854 (London: Offices of The Royal Historical Society, 1939), 2:504. 87 The Letters, 103. 88 Ibid. 104. 89 Ibid. 118–119. 90 Ibid. 119–120. 91 Mackaman, 132. 92 Maria Nesselrode to Carl Nesselrode, 27.7.1823, LPN, 6:148–149. 93 Gyp, Elles et lui (Paris: Calmann Levy, 1885), 91–92. 94 Marie de Rohan-Chabot, Les Errants de la Gloire (Paris: Flammarion, 1933), 99. 95 Baronne de Vaughan, Presque reine. Memoires de ma vie (Paris: Le Livre de Paris, 1944), 43. 96 Vaughan, 53–54. 97 Vaughan, 68. 98 Vaughan, 73. 99 Matilda Kshesinska, Vospominaniia (Smolensk: Rusich, 1998), 226–227. 100 Aleksandr Nelidov to Constantine Gubastov, 16/28.4.1876, IRLI RAN, 463–26, l.21 ob. 101 Nervo, 58. 102 A. Houssaye, Les mille et une nuits parisiennes, 1:152. 103 F. Lolliée, Le duc de Morny et la societé du Second Empire (Paris: Emile-Paul, 1909), 246. 104 Stefan Zweig, ‘Zhguchaia taina’, (accessed on 30.11.2016). 105 Elinor Glyn, Three Weeks, 14. 106 M. du Camp, Souvenirs d’un demi-siècle. Au temps de Louis-Philippe et de ­Napoléon III. 1830–1870 (Paris: Hachette, 1949), 1:155. 107 Marchioness Ripon to A.A. Savinsky, 19.8.1910, AVPRI, 340–706–33, ll.144–153 ob. 108 Clermont-Tonnerre, 1:153. 109 A. Houssaye, 1:154. 110 V. Ionin to Elsa Sasso-Ruffo, 4.2.1906, GARF, 939–1–219, ll.11–2 ob. 111 Bertal, 547. 112 Bertal, 529. 113 Bertal, 550. 114 Dr. Mandt to G.D. Mikhail, 23.9.1835, GARF, 866–1–408, ll.1–2 ob. 115 Grand Duchess Elena to P.D. Kiselev, 4/16.6.1846, IRLI RAN, 143–1–357, ll.3–6. 116 Serge Obolensky, One Man in His Time (New York: McDowell, Obolensky, 1958), 40–42. 117 G. Mattachich, Folle par raison d’Etat. La Princesse Louise de Belgique (Paris: Librairie. Universelle, 1904), 35. 118 Touchard-Lafosse (ed.), Mémoires authentiques d’une sage-femme, par Mme. Alexandrine Jullemier (Paris: Dumont, 1835), 2:64. 119 M. Ionina to V. Ionin, 8.12.1899, GARF 939–1–229, ll.73–4 ob. 120 M. Ionina to V. Ionin, 22.12.1903, GARF, 939–1–229, 93–4 ob. 121 ‘Rags and Royalty’, 5.4.1885, Reynolds’s Newspaper. 122 Thorold, 28.

Spa society  89 1 23 ‘Mr. Spurgeon’s Continental Experiences’, The Belfast News-Letter, 30.08.1860. 124 Touchard-Lafosse, 2:56. 125 José M. Samper, Viajes de un colombiano en Europa, Serie 2 (Paris: Imprimería de Thunot, 1862), 299. 126 Samper, 300. 127 I. Turgenev, The Smoke (trans. Isabel F. Hapgood) (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1914), 95–96.

4 Making money out of pleasure

It is said that society people live for pleasure, the bourgeois pursue pleasure, middle-class makes money out of it. —Fréderic Lollié

Every summer in the 1820s, the Duchess de Berry, the daughter-in-law of the French King Charles X, arrived in Dieppe or Bordeaux for sea baths, accompanied by elegant ladies, dandies of the court and guards officers. The second contingent that followed her consisted of authors, artists and actors who provided entertainment for the first crowd. Finally, an army of valets, maids, chefs, footmen and merchants moved into town to provide the luxuries and comforts that the bathers expected. The ground floors of the best houses were rented by the out-of-town merchants; the first and second floors usually housed the ladies and gentlemen of the duchess’s court and the officers of the duchess’s guard. Actors and artists took up the third floor, and the landlords moved up into the attic.1 A similar picture could be observed at all popular spas and resorts. With so much wealth and privilege accumulated in a limited space, fashionable resorts were game preserves for some and a source of living for others. Working people, profiteers and parasites rubbed shoulders at spas. Entrepreneurs courted potential investors; confidence artists looked for simpletons; loan sharks sought out lucky gamblers and young men who stood to inherit family fortunes; cocottes enticed clients: artists looked for patrons; reporters hunted for news; service staff chased tips. Service staff classified all health stations according to the number of guests and the size of tips. The exclusive winter-stations – Swiss Engadine, St. Moritz, Lucerne – were popular among the rich, and servants and waiters competed to get employment there. Among summer resorts they valued Cannes but disdained the neighbouring Nice. Cheaper spas were known among the servants as ‘oaf-stations’.2

Commercialized Hospitality The villages or small towns built around the famous springs for a long time remained sleepy hollows, and it was one of their charms. In the midcentury, local inhabitants continued to farm or fish as their ancestors had always done, and the

Making money out of pleasure   91 curists did not live in an isolated world. They lodged at locals’ houses, when inns could not take all the arrivals, and they bought the produce or fish from the locals. In early years at Royat, guests took walks up a mountain path to one of the places of interest, the grotto with seven jets of pure water that shot into the humid darkness amidst walls covered with green lichen. Inside they often found peasant women doing laundry, and if one of them offered the newcomer a glass of water, it was her way of asking for a penny.3 Later, such local initiatives were curbed: businessmen acquired exclusive rights to God’s bounty, and at every source an employee served glasses of water for a fixed price. Besides, spas frequently imitated or borrowed each other’s best- selling products. One could take Marienbad waters at Baden-Baden and Kreutznach waters in Ems. The Montecatini spa in Tuscany offered cures of bottled Vichy and Carlsbad waters.4 Business owners, as always, strove for infinite growth, and initially they did not care so much about the social status of the customers as about numbers. In the early 19th century, only the very wealthy could afford a stay in Baden-Baden, but there were not enough of them to generate the desired income, and the Grand Duke of Baden established a tariff at the hotels that catered to foreigners. In 1832, a visitor praised the quality of meals that she had at a hotel table d’hôte for only 2 and a half francs.5 One does not hear about this tariff after the 1840s, when casinos became the main source of income and people of limited means were not wanted. Anna Jacobsen states that cure routines were dull, so spas had to be made attractive and interesting.6 It also made sense that the more entertainment there was, the more money the visitors spent. Ballrooms, sites for concerts, casinos (originally, assembly halls rather than gambling spots), coffeehouses and theatres appeared. All these facilities were built close to the main promenade and were situated in such a way that the strollers would always mingle and meet. A stroll in the famous Lichtental alley in Baden-Baden combined exercise with entertainment: women discreetly examined each other’s toilettes, while men discussed the smart carriages that rolled by.7 Souvenir and antique shops began modestly, like the one on the mountain slope in Royat, where year after year a visitor might buy Julius Caesar’s helmet and Queen Margot’s fan. Eventually, shops and boutiques took up whole blocks of a spa town or a village street. They peddled merchandise for every income, from postcards and bone china mugs with the words ‘Marienbad’ or ‘Vichy’ to expensive jewelry from Parisian and Viennese shops. Some shops, like Katzau’s shop in Baden-Baden, became so popular that every visitor to Baden-Baden had to buy something there. Katzau asked all celebrities who came to his store to leave an autograph in his album. Most customers wrote complaints about Katzau’s prices, but the German chancellor Bernhard von Bülow, another customer, commended the shop owner for having overcome the prejudice against German merchandise at the time when everyone wanted to buy only articles ‘made in France’ or ‘made in England’. In 1894, the Prince of Wales gave Katzau permission to call himself the Purveyor to the Prince of Wales.8 In the second half of the 19th century, the volume of business activity at spas grew enough to prompt the establishment of Spa Associations9 regulating the

92  Spa life trade. As certain services provided by the local authorities did not pay for themselves, they began to collect taxes from the visitors. Wiesbaden introduced a ‘care tax’ for all those who stayed longer than a week. It paid for the local band, the upkeep of promenade gardens and ‘places of public resort’.10 In Kissingen, the size of the tax depended on the class of the hotel where the visitors stayed. Here the money was spent on maintaining the roads and sidewalks, putting benches in the parks, and the like. In more modest places, visitors only paid a ‘music tax’. At the turn of the century, spa businessmen found another way of generating revenue: they sold the right to use their facilities for advertising. An Englishwoman staying at the luxurious Hotel National at Lucerne came out to the balcony to enjoy the view of the lake and winced at the sight of a yacht belonging to the hotel with enormous words Quaker Oats on the sail.11 The goal of spa businesses was to fill the place to capacity and charge the visitors the most for the cheapest possible services. Bertal reported that the fierce and aggressive natives of Menton every winter waited for tuberculosis victims to arrive and fleeced them like shepherds fleece sheep.12 ‘Spas are run as business concerns’, stated a British physician in 1896. Actually, spas were sometimes run like fraudulent business concerns. When the object is profit, sooner or later cheating becomes part of the picture. A German physician animated by moral principles and respect for science warned foreign tourists that the owners of some continental thermal establishments were offering worthless fakes instead of the medicinal waters. In the water pavilions of Schlangenbad, blue-painted cubicles gave the water a reflected azure blue and made the skin of a person sitting in the bath seem marble white. Older women believed that thanks to the water their skin recovered its youthful complexion.13 and the myth made Schlangenbad’s reputation. At Kissingen, the water-drinkers were recommended breathing ‘seaside air’, scented by passing over faggots on which salted water dripped. In still another thermal station, they wrote a name of a different spa over each of half a dozen taps, but the water that came out was one and the same.14 Spa entrepreneurs might fake or absurdly exaggerate the features that constituted the essence of a spa experience. The visitors’ expectations of tranquility, peace, clean unspoiled nature and meticulous medical attention could be frustrated. A visitor satirized the signature features of a spa as she experienced them: A spa consists of the following elements: a) water b) a doctor c) a patient d) music. The water drips from a tap into a glass or a tub. The doctor pockets his fee with a sage expression on his face. The patient maintains the doctor in a style to which the latter is accustomed. The music torments the patient so that he would not recover too soon. All this together, taken in prescribed quantities, forms a harmonious whole called the spa.15

Accessibility Fundraisers were quick to realize the convenience of fashionable spas’ accumulation of wealthy people in search of entertainment. In 1904, after the outbreak

Making money out of pleasure   93 of the Russo-Japanese War, French newspapers advertised a charity bazaar and tombola on the Riviera for the benefit of the Russian war wounded. The morganatic widow of Emperor Alexander II, Princess Yurievsky, threw open her villa in Nice and personally stood behind the jewelry counter. Princess ­Yurievsky’s sister wrote to her son from Nice: ‘There is a great patriotic movement in favour of the war. Your aunt has held a bazaar at her place, which was very successful and collected an abundant crop. Tomorrow there is a concert sponsored by the Grand Duchesses’.16 For the occasion all the Romanovs on the Riviera, and the numerous Russian colony, joined her, leaving behind family feuds. The joint appeal of brilliant names and sympathy for France’s ally Russia ensured the success of the drive.17 Outsiders with no contacts in the local society found other ways to approach the moneyed spa residents. In the 1890s, Russian students at Heidelberg University periodically organized charity galas for the benefit of their indigent classmates and looked for sponsors in the nearby Baden-Baden. The students copied the addresses of wealthy and prominent Russians from the spa registers; then, donning their Sunday best, the most charming and eloquent of the gala organizers made rounds of the hotels. At all hotels the rule was for the receptionist to telephone the guest and inform about the visitors waiting in the lobby. It was easy for the person on the other end to decline receiving a group of strangers. The students’ strategy was to tip the receptionist in the hotel lobby so that, instead, he would let a floor attendant take them upstairs. When he knocked and the door opened, the occupant of the suite faced the visitors and had to invite them in. It was hard for someone standing in the midst of a luxurious suite to deny the request to help young scholars continue their studies.18 The same technique served pushy brokers. During the 1905 Franco-German Morocco crisis, the German chancellor Bernhard von Bülow repeatedly told the press that Germany insisted on equal rights for German business interests in Morocco. One of these businesses was a large German pipe-manufacturing company, Mannesmann Brothers. It expanded abroad and pressed the German foreign office to defend their interests. Germany was forced to capitulate to France and Britain in 1905, but the Mannesmanns continued seeking assistance of the foreign office. In summer 1910 the new foreign secretary, Alfred von Kiderlen-­ Wächter, was in Marienbad for a meeting with the Austro-Hungarian foreign minister Baron von Aehrenthal. One morning a Viennese journalist, Sigmund Münz, came to invite Kiderlen for an early walk to the source and found the man still in pajamas and extremely angry: ‘These Mannesmanns cannot leave me alone even here’.19 The brothers’ messenger showed up at the villa before ­Kiderlen had even properly got out of bed.

Artists at spas Aristocracy’s wholehearted pursuit of amusements transformed their spa stays into an uninterrupted chain of parties, balls, gambling, sports contests, excursions and amateur theatricals. Professional entertainers were in high demand. Music

94  Spa life was one of the most popular entertainments at the time: aristocratic amateurs played musical instruments for their own pleasure, arranged musical evenings for their friends or went to concerts and theatres where professionals performed. Performers and musicians were one of the large professional groups that permanently settled in spas or came regularly for the seasons. During the 1871/1872 and 1877 seasons at Baden-Baden, Johann Strauss Junior conducted a band that performed on the terrace of the Kurhaus three times daily. In 1870, three Parisian theatre companies competed for audiences: Les Italiens, the Bouffes Parisiennes and the Palais Royal. The Parisian star Léonide Leblanc was hired to act in the fashionable operettas by Meilhac and Halévy.20 In the 1840s-1860s, the niece of the Russian chancellor Nesselrode Maria Mukhanova-Kalergis regularly came to Baden-Baden. Maria Kalergis, as she was known before she married her second husband Sergei Mukhanov, was as famous for her string of lovers, including Alfred de Musset and Frederic Chopin, as for her pianistic talent (Chopin was also her music teacher) and was a living proof that not every woman separated from her husband became an outcast. Her beauty must have boosted her popularity because it is the first thing contemporaries mention when they speak of her: ‘a tall, graceful woman in a vaporous white gown, with a wide red sash floating around her waist, a white lace scarf with a rose over her glossy golden blond hair’.21 An acquaintance recalled: ‘In any “Dream of Fair Women” of her time she might well have been accounted the fairest, so tall was she and well favoured, and of a complexion so dazzling. Hers was the perfection of northern beauty’.22 Théophile Gautier and Heinrich Heine immortalized her snow-white complexion in poems. Maria Kalergis combined beauty with wit and imagination and ‘[p]robably no woman of her time was the object of more sincere and devoted admiration,’ an English diplomat reminisced. At Baden-Baden she welcomed at her house French authors and German musicians,23 and aristocracy sought invitations to her parties. She was a welcome guest at all private musical functions in European capitals. As an aristocratic amateur, she did not do paid public performances. At Baden-Baden royalty and aristocracy were her audience. She generously used her connections to help professional composers and musicians she met at BadenBaden to find paying patrons: Grand Duchess Elena gave me great joy. She hired [Karl] Tausig for her court, to play the piano twice a week and to be her musical adviser in managing the conservatory which has been founded thanks to her efforts. I have been in charge of the negotiations. A telegram from Standhartner told me that poor Tausig is delighted. He was starving to death.24 Her letters from the spa usually had a paragraph or two about the spa’s musical life. She wrote:‘[Johannes] Brahms spends a month here before returning to Vienna. I had him to dinner yesterday. He is an interesting person with his simplicity, so original and savage. In a different genre, but like Wagner, the first composer of his time.’25 And ‘After the races are over, most of society leaves,

Making money out of pleasure   95 and only good company stays – Mme Viardot, Mme [Clara] Schumann – the artists. There is much music at the Flemmings [Count Albert von Flemming was Prussian ambassador to Baden]’.26 Clara Schumann was a celebrated pianist and the wife of the great composer. Robert Schumann’s mental illness left Clara to keep the family afloat financially by giving piano lessons and touring Europe with concerts. Baden-Baden recitals were a great financial help to her, as well as a consolation, because there she met her secret lover Brahms. Another famous personage at Baden-Baden was the soprano Pauline Viardot who reaped many successes there. The casino owners father and son Benazet regularly hired her for seasonal concerts.27 When she retired from the stage, Mme. Viardot opened a vocal school at the spa. Her lifelong admirer, the Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev, followed Mme. ­Viardot to Baden-Baden and lived there for years. He never tired of praising the spa’s artistic life to his friends elsewhere: you would have had an opportunity of hearing good music. … The place is very crowded; as for musicians, [Johannes] Brahms and [Hermann] Abert came. The Italian [opera] company is mediocre. Mme. Viardot gave a splendid concert for the benefit of the indigent subjects of the north of the Great Duchy of Baden; next Sunday she begins her matinées again.28 Mme. Viardot gathered a loyal audience for her private Baden performances even when she was elderly. In Baden-Baden Maria Kalergis heard Viardot in The Barber of Seville and qualified it as a triumph of genius and hard work. ‘Despite her broken and burntout voice she still brings on frenetic applause’.29 During the next season, Marie Kalergis was as impressed: ‘Mme Viardot organized some music for me. … She was sublime, like in her best years. Among others, she performed the Doppelganger of Schubert in a way so heart-wrenching that we all wept and trembled’.30 Pauline Viardot was able to place her pupils with her wealthy and influential patrons at Baden-Baden. Through the secretary of Grand Duchess Elena, Viardot recommended to the Grand Duchess the singers and musicians for a performance at the spa or at her Petersburg palace. Viardot’s letters from Baden-Baden invariably opened with ‘let me introduce a friend, … a professional singer. … No one sings Schumann and Schubert better’ or ‘Let me introduce Mlle. … my pupil,’ and included a detailed list of terms on which the singer would agree to go to Russia.31 Viardot’s own lucrative concerts were also arranged during the spa meetings with the grand duchess.32 Turgenev described one of the French-language theatricals produced at BadenBaden by a mixed group of professionals and amateurs: This 41st performance was honoured by the presence of the King and Queen of Prussia, the Prussian Crown Prince and Princess, the Grand Duke and Duchess of Baden, the Duke and Duchess of Darmstadt, Prince and Princess William of Baden …and other notables, ministers, generals etc. What do you say to this? Naturally, all this crowd was attracted by the music of

96  Spa life the delightful Mme. Viardot; I hasten to explain that I did not sing, but only acted. … The guests were pleased, and the speech of Craquemiche, which slightly lampooned the speeches of H.M. Napoleon III even produced loud laughter from the august lips of King William.33 In this relatively relaxed atmosphere, musicians and composers could approach potential patrons. In Kissingen, a ‘concert-speculator’, Julian Grauer, asked the German chancellor von Bismarck, a music lover, to become the official patron of his orchestra. Grauer wanted to use Bismarck’s influence to have his symphony performed at the Kissingen Kurhaus. The first of its three movements embodied a recent unsuccessful attempt on the life of Emperor William I; the other two described musically two attempts on Bismarck himself. The musical score included firing a pistol, but Bismarck was not tempted34 and turned down the request. Sitting for gala portraits was another aristocratic tradition, and for almost thirty years the most popular portraitist of Europe, Franz-Xavier Winterhalter, spent the season at his Baden-Baden villa. There he painted many of his series of crinolined beauties – always against the background of a pretty park or a blue sky, always with the same distant, dreamy expression. After seeing a dozen of his paintings in succession, it is easy to understand why Winterhalter was madly successful. To his fond eye, every single aristocratic sitter appeared beautiful or at least attractive. He used several tested tricks and drew faces as quickly and easily as if he were producing artwork for chocolate boxes. Instead of trying to capture and reveal his sitters’ personalities, he focused on the attributes of wealth and rank. Sparkling jewels, foamy lace and lush silk bows come to the fore and draw the viewer’s attention away from the model’s face. One hesitates to place the famous medium (‘spiritualist’, as he was called in his times) Daniel Home, among artists, but if he is classified as a performer, then his Baden-Baden, Biarritz and Nice stays, beginning with 1856, were part of his lucrative professional tours. In Baden-Baden he was introduced to the King of Württemberg and King William I of Prussia, ‘both of whom investigated the phenomena’,35 that is, took part in the séances. Home made sure of the success of his performances by banning sceptics from his table turning sessions, which took place in semi-darkness, on moonlit nights. The participants stood around the table in the centre of the room, and they all held hands; then the table began to turn, rose into the air and came down noiselessly. The true believers swore that when the moon disappeared behind a cloud, Home levitated. He also communicated with the spirits of the dead, and at spas he gained a following among the Russian, French and British upper class. The Russians he met at spas invited him to St. Petersburg where he held ‘table-turning’ sessions in all the salons and even at the court, causing great upheaval among ladies. In the 1870s, part of the European aristocracy left Baden-Baden for other resorts, and the artistic and musical stars followed them. The soprano Adelina Patti, who became Viardot’s successor as Europe’s prima donna, sang in ­Aix-les-Bains. In 1908, Lady Gladys Ripon wrote from Monte Carlo that Russian opera singers were there, among them the world’s best basso Fedor Chaliapin. In 1910–1914,

Making money out of pleasure   97 Sergei Diaghilev regularly brought his Ballets Russes to Monte Carlo for the Easter season. One of Diaghilev’s dancers, the English Lydia Sokolova (her stage name), wrote Between December and April … [Monte Carlo] was the haunt of the smartest society of Europe and America. French and English aristocrats, Russian Grand Dukes, Indian Maharajahs and American emperors of commerce stayed at the Hôtel de Paris and gambled at the ornate Casino, surrounded by exotic gardens and perched on its rock above the sea. To entertain this rich and exclusive public, the management of the Casino provided the best opera that money could buy, and … the Diaghilev Ballet had been engaged to introduce some variety in the bill-of-fare.36 Diaghilev ballet’s performances became one of the trademarks of the Monte Carlo spring season. His patronesses – the French Countess Greffulhe, the English Marchioness Ripon and their numerous friends – came to see the ballet’s triumphs, which they had made possible by energetic fundraising and lobbying in Paris and London. At the start of the season, when dancers were assembled on the stage before the performance, Diaghilev appeared, looking magnificent in tails. He looked for creases in the scenery, made sure the lighting was correct, said a few words to the stars, ignoring the rest, and got through the pass door into the front of the house. Carefully shaved and scented, his hair touched up with black dye, except for a white streak left on one side, he looked incredibly distinguished and I felt proud to have him as my director’.37 After the rehearsals at the Casino, the dancers mixed with the smart visitors on the terrace. On the terraces outside the Casino between eleven and one, or between five and seven, one could see a real fashion parade. It was the custom then to wear dresses in the morning, suits or costumes in the afternoon, and of course evening dress or semi-evening dress at night. The air seemed always to be impregnated with perfume, either from the women or from the flowers. Our dancers held their own with the fashionable visitors: they were as well suited to showing off the lovely French clothes as if they had been models.38

Gambling But spas did not become associated with arts so much as with gambling, to the extent that the word ‘casino’, originally a public room for music or dancing at a spa, came to denote a building where games are played for money. Where people with a surplus of time and money gathered, gambling was a natural remedy for boredom,

98  Spa life and cheating was a natural companion to gambling. In the 1820s, a gang of crooks arrived at Aix-les-Bains and set up a bank at the casino, encouraging gamblers to make large bets against them. Eventually, the card-sharps were caught-redhanded, roughed up and thrown out of the town.39 Gamblers believed that they could take precautions against card-sharps. Many considered that it was easy to cheat in baccarat, poker or écarté: a person standing behind the players and looking into their cards could make agreed signs to an accomplice, who would then make his moves.40 But gambling addicts fondly reassured themselves that roulette or trente et quarante were safe and honest because a croupier would not cheat, as he did not care who won.41 Large casinos did not discourage them in this illusion. At the Monte Carlo casino at 11 am sharp, the groups of seven croupiers and a chef de partie each took their positions at every table in the four gambling salons. Liveried footmen brought a bag of money to every table. Then the crowd was allowed in. On entering the casino, everyone paid a franc and left their dustcloaks and umbrellas or parasols to an attendant. The rules of the original casino as a social club for select public applied to the gambling halls inside: only welldressed public was allowed in. Every gambler received a card for keeping score of their losses and gains – it often allowed the gambler to chat up a pretty woman sitting at the table next to him, on the pretext of offering advice.42 Cocottes, actresses and high-born ladies mixed in the casino salons. The pretty actress of the Comedie-Française, Wanda de Boncza, was more often seen at the Monte Carlo casino than onstage. Her acting was forgotten after she died, but those who saw her in the roulette salon remembered her habit of covering the roulette table with bank notes, ‘which she did very generously because she kept taking them out of an open briefcase behind her, held by a famous politician’.43 In the salons for whist and écarté, a reporter saw diplomats on vacation, abandoned husbands and lovers passing the time until the assigned hour. Here the chips were between 1 and 5 francs per game.44 Serious gamblers assembled close to midnight in a gallery away from the noise of the more modest salons. There was no crowd to distract the people who craved the excitement of ‘the rapid exchange of money well-suited to persons of impatient temperament’,45 Baccarat with stakes between 1,000 and 10,000 francs went on till dawn, in almost complete silence. Self-control and restraint were the essential qualities of a gentleman, so ‘not a word or an ill-humoured gesture betrays the strength of the blow assessed’. Close to the dawn the lucky gamblers went to exchange their chips; ‘the casualties are carried away and the next day the warfare resumes’, a reporter wrote.46 Reports from gambling spas were mostly concerned with the events taking place around the roulette and often were supplied by the casino owners as free advertisement: for example, ‘a young man with nerves of steel’ came to ­Wiesbaden, played the roulette, won, went to the Ems casino, lost everything. Then he returned to Wiesbaden, won back his money and bought a carriage and 2 horses. Or, ‘Yesterday a young man won 36,000 francs and could not suppress a loud exclamation of joy when he was given a bag of coins’.47 In the same come-hither spirit, the owners of the Monte Carlo casino advertised the occasional cases of big winnings to lure more customers. When a

Making money out of pleasure   99 gambler won more chips than were available on the table, with much pomp a black shroud was placed on the table until more chips were brought in. This was called ‘breaking the bank’, although casino capitals had never been even close to being depleted. Attempts to break the bank were made periodically but never succeeded in large casinos. In the 1890s, a Russian nobleman dedicated two years of his life to observing the gambling at Monte Carlo in order to work out a system that would allow him to win at trente et quarante. On the historic day that he sat down to play, a breathless crowd gathered around him – and saw him lose 300,000 francs within the next hour or two.48 A relatively small Bad Ems casino was hit once or twice by dedicated gamblers, one of whom played with extreme good luck for eight days in a row, and the bank closed till the end of the season.49 But these legends stood out among thousands of stories about men and women who came to a spa for a rest and left after a week with tattered nerves and without a penny. The residents of Nice in early 1870 petitioned the French Senate to suppress the gambling houses in Monaco.50 Needless to say, the petition was turned down. A Parisian horizontale (or cocotte) Cora Pearl described typical casino fun. Many gamblers had holes made in their pockets for dropping firecrackers and petards at the casino. The floor of the Baden-Baden gambling salon was covered with them, and on some evenings the public and the croupiers were jumpy as detonations went off all the time. It was all right to play such pranks in Baden-Baden because it was a place for games.51 It was also acceptable for gambling addicts of both sexes to address strangers in the roulette salon: a first-time gambler was considered lucky, and people would ask a newcomer to place their bets for them. A woman who lost her last penny might ask a man to buy her a few chips. It was casino, a different world: Le jeu est fait – rien ne va plu-u-s! The croupiers drawled their formulas, ancient hags clawed in their or other people’s winnings, beautiful young women invited strange men in sirenic tones, to lend them a louis-d’or, respectable matrons looked disdainfully down their noses at the shocking scene to see which they had come hundreds of miles. Scraps of all civilized tongues filled the air, oaths, laughs, groans. And the air itself, thick with a thousand scents, from Peau d’Espagne beloved of unmentionable Parisian ladies up to the most delicate essence of Houbigant or Guerlain was unbearably hot, unbearably sweet and curiously exciting.52 Some of the addicts were well known in all the casinos; one of these familiar faces in the 1860s was the estranged wife of the Russian ambassador to Paris, Olga Kiseleva. She shuttled between Baden-Baden, Wiesbaden and Homburg casinos. A reporter of Le Figaro drew a picture of Homburg at high season: Mme. Kiseleva keeps losing money from 11 in the morning till night. ­ othschild was here but did not gamble – he said it was ‘an insignificant R game’. The biches [cocottes] from Paris are expected – they are the only element missing.53

100  Spa life

Cocottes When the biches came, things became even merrier. In the days of the Second Empire, Parisian cocottes and young actresses in search of patrons followed the smart set to watering places. They livened up the atmosphere: the respectable public looked at them through their lorgnettes as they rode on horseback along the beach on the rim of the water where everyone could see them. In the casino or in the street, ladies surreptitiously studied and sometimes copied their hairstyles and gowns.54 Baden-Baden was the cocottes’ favourite in the 1860s, for ‘roulette, races and royal highnesses’ were there.55 At the turn of the 19th century, Monte Carlo replaced Baden-Baden, and the cocottes moved to greener pastures. Anton Chekhov wrote, chuckling, that everything in Monte Carlo oozed a particular style: ‘even a palm tree looks like a cocotte and a roast chicken is served cocotte-style’.56 As Chekhov implied, for a long time cocottes were recognizable by a style of their own. ‘What is virtue? A mousy little creature in a woollen frock with an umbrella in her hand,’ a fictional cocotte said contemptuously. A woman who made a living from men had to attract their attention, and the easiest way to do so was by creating scandal. In the times of corsets and crinolines, a cocotte like Anna Deslions was bound to be noticed wherever she appeared: ‘never in a corset, with proud, impertinent breasts, sloping shoulders … pink and white flesh, delicious thighs … dressed in lace’57 Arsène Houssaye spent his life between the salons of Paris and those of Central European spas and knew first-hand the types that made his novels popular. In his old age he remembered one morning bumping into Cora Pearl in Ems. She strutted with a sulky expression on her face. ‘She was not quite dressed, but, oh Lord, how much effort she put into her make-up at this early hour! It was art disguising nature’.58 Respectable women took pride in the naturalness of their beauty or the dignified acceptance of homeliness and aging. Makeup and dyed hair were the cocottes’ trademark, which other women cautiously and gradually began to imitate. Empress Eugenie, the consort of ­Napoleon III, was suspected of ‘disguising nature’, but then she was not of royal birth, of course, an explanation that satisfied most of her contemporaries. Still, by the time England’s Edward VII came to the throne, even his irreproachable consort Alexandra was resorting to art to preserve eternal youth. British courtiers turned a loyal blind eye, but her sister Empress Marie’s ­Russian suite dropped heavy hints about Alexandra’s artificial youthfulness: ‘The queen is a painting, but do you realize that a painting is not the same as the ­nature? . … Her hair is yellow blond, it does not grow darker or greyer with years; her face is white, her cheeks are pink’. And then, tellingly, the writer praised Alexandra’s slim waist for being her one feature that owed nothing to art.59 Cocottes were not known for beauty so much as for brazenness and extravagance. ‘If I have to be an object, then my only consolation is to be an expensive, a very expensive object’,60 a woman who considered becoming a courtesan said in Aleksandr Ostrovsky’s play. And society agreed with her. The more fortunes she ruined and the more men committed follies because of her, the more fascinating

Making money out of pleasure   101 and desirable a cocotte became in men’s eyes. Cora Pearl, by her own proud admission, spent 69,000 francs in one month in Baden, not counting what she lost at the casino.61 ‘I swept through fortunes like a storm sweeps through a harvest,’ a cocotte announced in Arsène Houssaye’s book.62 The higher the position of her patron, the more a cocotte was admired. ­Caroline Letessier, an actress who at one time played at the French theatre of St. ­Petersburg and then transferred her hunting grounds to Baden-Baden, boasted that she ‘used to deal in [Russian] grand dukes’ before switching to a nephew of the Grand Duchess of Baden.63 Cocottes, as a rule, were not interested in anything but money and the luxuries it provided, they were not known for scintillating intelligence and, as their clients admitted, they had no manners and no conversation. (‘Talk to a cocotte? About what?’ asked Gaston Jollivet.) All they could offer their patrons was lack of inhibitions and insolence that titillated gentlemen because it contrasted with the reserve and self-restraint of women from their own circle. The corollary is

Figure 4.1  Jean Reutlinger. La Belle Otero. Wikimedia Commons.

102  Spa life that when society women, like Princess Pauline Metternich, began to imitate this brazenness, cocottes lost their cachet. Already after the collapse of the Second Empire in 1871, in the atmosphere of social disarray and national self-resentment in France, Parisian cocottes were less noticeable in public. ‘They do not go together in a band anymore,’ a contemporary lamented, ‘They ceased to offer dinners, suppers, dancing parties or gambling parties, at which they used to gossip, watch each other and swap lovers.’ They ceased to drive in Bois de Boulogne in their smart open carriages, did not throw plates out of the windows of Cafe Anglais or flaunt their luxury. Now they practised the bourgeois virtues, like thrift, and looked down at one another. Some attempted to pass for ‘artistes’ – by arranging a concert or having a book of doubtful quality printed at their own expense.64 At places like Monaco in the 1890s, their presence was still a natural complement to gambling. The Duke and Duchess of Marlborough on their honeymoon stopped at the Hotel de Paris of Monaco and found themselves in ‘a lively crowd of beautiful women and elegant men’, whom the duke knew. The duke told his American wife that she should not look at the women because they were ‘ladies of easy virtue whose beauty and charm had their price.’ The two outstanding beauties the duchess recognized were La Belle Otero, always flamboyantly dressed to set off her figure, and Liane de Pougy, her rival. They wore their jewelry as ‘visible signs of the eminence they reached in their profession.’ The duke also told his wife not to acknow­ ledge the men who accompanied them, even though they had been introduced to her in London.65 A cocotte naturally considered that ‘the [alleged] weaklings who dined with me, who took me to the races or to the spas, are brave men who have the courage of their youth and of their passions’,66 but it was a viewpoint unique to cocottes’ own world. The men who lived with cocottes did not appear in society with them.

Cocottes at spas Uncertain of their grounds in this new environment, when they first came to a spa these women ‘present the most discreet appearance: reserved manners, serious conversation, lowered eyes, black gowns.’ They had engraved noble escutcheons and crowns on all their possessions – suitcases, cards, and so on. Here they were all countesses with names of saint martyrs: Countess Saint George, Countess Saint André.67 But when a cocotte thought pretence was no longer necessary, she impudently flaunted her own style, filling the street with the train of her gown and the rattling of her expensive accessories. In their heyday, the news of a popular biche arriving in Baden or Aix would spread quickly. A spa was small, and as soon as one of the ‘countesses’ sat down in a sidewalk cafe near the Conversation, she saw familiar faces.68 Formal introductions were not required in the case of cocottes: Cora Pearl, ‘a striking-looking sinner’69 as a pious American called her, came to Vichy in the 1850s, rented a house and had men come to dinner every evening. She did not know who half of them were, and some guests introduced themselves into her dining-room climbing in through the window. The guests made merry in all the ways that

Making money out of pleasure   103

Figure 4.2  André-Adolphe-Eugène Disderi. Cora Pearl. Wikimedia Commons.

the reputation of the hostess suggested, but their imagination ran always to the same: breaking or turning things upside down. Cora’s guests at their most rambunctious ran in the downtown of the sleeping Vichy, broke street gas lamps and switched the signboards over shops.70 When the Turkish ambassador to France arrived from Aix-les-Bains at BadenBaden for an after-cure, his mistress, a Parisian actress, joined him. Count von Bismarck, the Prussian Minister-Resident, arranged a bachelors’ dinner for his Turkish colleague and asked the latter’s mistress to be the hostess.71 The guests became quite boisterous, and Marie Colombier, an actress–turned-cocotte, later recalled that the great German statesman, with his remaining hair tousled, pranced to music, holding his starched shirt by the two corners of the front.72 Then, in the early hours of the morning, the guests went to Conversation, where they tied a rope around all the boxes with orange trees lining the sidewalk and overturned them.73 (After this, Bismarck returned home, and his wife Johanna, horrified at the extent to which he exhausted himself in the service of his monarch, kept him in bed drinking Carlsbad waters and played piano for him.)

104  Spa life It was an axiom that a young man had to sow his wild oats, and society accepted that he visited prostitutes and made gambling debts, provided he did not flaunt it and did not self-destruct in the process. At a certain age he was expected to leave all this behind, get married and start on a career; otherwise his life would be wasted. So, the men who frequented Coras, Annas and Julias did it discreetly because in society’s eyes a long association with prostitutes, professional gamblers and loan sharks made them unsuited for either family life or career. A Frenchman who came to Baden every summer wrote in 1868: Princes should live according to certain principles which would distinguish them from others and would give them at least an appearance of certain superiority; without this, what would justify their existence? The Orleans princes are now here. Comte de Paris, the Duc de Chartres hunted in the company of Dupressoir, the casino owner, and invited him to dinner. The Duc ­d’Aumale and Prince de Joinville, spend time in the company of Daru who is a ­gambler, and of Villement who is a clown; they made acquaintance of ladies of easy virtue. … D’Aumale is in a relationship with L ­ eonide ­Leblanc, who is nothing but a whore; Joinville appears in public with ­Madeleine Brohan, who belongs to the Comédie Française. From the terrace, near the orchestra, the public watches them, people point them out to each other and laugh. It would be so easy for them to shut their doors and respect the public by respecting themselves.74

Alphonses-gigolos After a visit to a spa, a young Russian copied into her diary a quotation from a fashionable novel by Gabriele d’Annunzio, evocative of the picture she had observed: ‘Blond ladies who are no longer young … dance with teenage partners. … Boredom in the eyes of the partners and little fixed smiles on the lips of the ladies.’75 If cocottes were present at the spas, so were their male counterparts, men who sponged on wealthy older women. ‘Alphonses’, as they were known after the character from a play by Alexander Dumas-fils, Monsieur Alphonse, were not as numerous as cocottes. The occupation was less profitable as fewer women than men controlled their fortunes. Besides, men had many other ways of making a living. But spas were the natural habitat for Alphonses, for wealthy women came alone. A Russian wrote to her friend from Baden-Baden: Feminine society consists mostly of aging women without serious responsibilities who employ their dying youth in retaining near them willing or unwilling elegant youths who are attracted to Baden by the roulette or the races. You can imagine the effects and consequences these ladies produce among the local demi-monde when it comes to disputing men.76 Contemporaries easily recognized an Alphonse: a man who made a living off women was overelegant, overgroomed, with no obvious source of income and

Making money out of pleasure   105 with no respectable family behind him. He was typically interested in aging women because widows or middle-aged spinsters were not as closely watched by their families as young heiresses were. Foreign husbands of titled spinsters and widows were always regarded with deep suspicion in their home country, especially when it was known that the couple met at a spa.

Doctors A British physician wrote that it was impossible to separate ‘the value of the personality of the physician from that of his work’,77 and spa patients often dealt with doctors who were infected with the same greed that animated the stockholders of bathing establishments, casino owners and hotel keepers: A spa doctor is a priest of a special science: he analyzes all symptoms and traces them to one cause. If a spa where a physician practises boasts water healing rheumatism, then he will trace every complaint back to rheumatism. Whether you have toothache or your grandmother died, or your luggage has been stolen at the train station – all these are painful consequences of untreated rheumatism, which requires you to take two glasses of water in the morning and two in the evening before going to sleep.78 Like plastic surgeons today, spa physicians came to be viewed as a separate breed: part doctors, part businessmen and part courtiers, always attuned to the need to boost the mood of their patients, find new treatments to keep the hypochondriacs entertained and persuade them gently but firmly to leave the spa if their health deteriorated. A spa was a health place, not a place for the dying, who by their presence were a reminder that local physicians were not omnipotent. Princess Lieven complained: ‘I am leaving Schlangenbad demoralized.’ She wrote that she was so ill that the doctor ‘threw her out. …It frightened me. He did not want me to die on his hands.’ She dragged herself to Wiesbaden and then to Baden-Baden,79 before returning to Paris. It was to remain a feature of the spas: no one was allowed to die there. Another specialty of spa doctors was to issue clean bills of health to those who had undergone a cure no matter how they felt. A woman who spent six weeks in Carlsbad and went through all sorts of treatments was told that she was well, but two days after leaving the spa the old pains and stomach disorders returned.80 Disenchantment with traditional medicine resulted in a new practice: people went to resorts but sought alternative treatments. A Russian millionaire in 1901 underwent a three-month pharmaceuticals-free treatment of gout. The method was invented by a chemist who presented himself as an enemy of medicine and physicians. This Monte Carlo practitioner, like all healers in all times, prescribed for his patients a ‘lifestyle attuned to nature’s laws’,81 a formula vague enough to be meaningless. But generalizations about spa physicians are difficult. Spa therapy was not all powerful, and once doctors admitted it, they could prescribe what treatments

106  Spa life there were with a clear conscience. The claim that waters were a panacea was fraudulent, but doctors did not make it. In fact, they usually spoke about alleviating or preventing certain conditions, not about healing them. It was often the patients who placed excessive hope in a spa. There were dedicated physicians at spas, and if for most of them participation in balneology conferences and publishing brochures about their method were ways of self-advertisement, some were absorbed by studying the diseases they treated. Specialization of spas resulted in specialization of the resident practitioners who year after year treated patients with the same illnesses. The field of observation offered ample material, and from the aristocratic Marienbad an ­Austrian physician reported his observation of the genetic damage done by inbreeding: the incidence of deaf and mute children in marriages between aunts and nephews was 145 times higher than the average.82

Spa doctors’ hypnotic fascination A situation that replayed itself many times was a middle-aged wealthy woman who became psychologically dependent on her spa doctor and hired him to be her personal physician when she left the spa. Sometimes these doctors married their wealthy patients; on occasion a physician came to control all aspects of a woman’s life. Such happened to the consort of the Swedish King Gustav V, Victoria of Sweden. The marriage was unhappy, and Victoria used her fragile health as a pretext for being away from her husband. Her daughter-in-law, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, wrote about the couple: ‘When one sees them together, one realizes that only her constant absence allowed them to keep up a semblance of a marriage for thirty years’.83 The queen regularly went to Mediterranean resorts. In 1892, when she was 30 years of age, she hired Dr. Axel Munthe, a French-trained Swedish physician and psychiatrist, to attend her. He is best remembered as the author of the bestseller The Story of San Michele, but in his time he was a fashionable physician. He prescribed winters for the queen on his favourite island of C ­ apri, a few miles off the Neapolitan shore. The temperature on Capri varied between 13º C in winter and 23º C in summer, which, Munthe claimed, made it suitable for the queen’s weak lungs. Contemporaries suspected that Munthe recommended Capri for his patient because he liked to live there, in his San Michele residence. He gradually took over the general direction of her life. A. Savinsky, the Russian minister in Sweden and a close friend of Grand Duchess Maria, recorded in 1912: It was rumoured that his relations with the Queen of Sweden had gone beyond those of a patient with a doctor. She would do nothing without him. He persuaded her that she was so ill that she would soon die without him. Swedish climate was bad for her – she built a villa on Capri. Soon he became rich and she became a sickly psychotic old woman. But she has a stronger will than the rest of her family. …so she made everyone count with Munthe.84

Making money out of pleasure   107 Victoria spent most of her time in Munthe’s company: they talked, read, did music and she assisted him in his charitable activities. The Swedish king for appearances’ sake dropped in on her once a year on the way to Monte Carlo, and she visited Stockholm on great family or national occasions. When her daughter-in-law, Maria of Russia, was on the point of breaking with her husband, William of Sweden, in 1912, the Swedish royal couple decided that it would help if the husband and wife spent some time apart. Maria was sent to stay with her mother-in-law on Capri. Dr. Munthe at once focused on the new patient. He announced that leaving the island would be fatal to her health; he also told her that unless he treated her she would die of kidney failure, like her mother had. Having thus settled the issue of her physical health, he turned to marriage counselling. Munthe advised her not to ask too much of life in general and to seek resignation, like her mother-in-law who quietly moved away from her husband. He suggested that Maria might join his Capri circle. Accustomed to guarding her privacy, the grand duchess felt humiliated that the Swedish royal family informed her of their decisions regarding her life through Dr. Munthe. It angered her that without her consent a stranger had been told all about her private life and now, uninvited, he wanted to discuss it with her. ‘The queen tells him everything, and he knows everything about all of us and does not agree with her opinions, but judges for himself. His perspicacity is frightening’, she wrote to Savinsky, hesitating between indignation and awe.85 Like all royalty, Maria Pavlovna was quick to recognize and resent commoners’ attempts to exploit her high position. She became wary when the doctor said he would like to go to Russia and meet her aunt Elisabeth, the sister of the Russian empress. Next, Munthe bluntly asked Maria Pavlovna to recommend him to Empress Alexandra, saying that he specialized in ailments like hers and could cure her.86 Savinsky, having heard how adroitly Munthe manipulated his female patients, was alarmed by the news. He wrote: ‘Everyone in Europe knew that the Russian empress was an easy mark for soothsayers, shamans and ‘holy men’ of all kinds.’ Obviously, Munthe planned ‘to get access to our court where people of his ilk were well received.’ Savinsky reported to the foreign minister, Sergey Sazonov and heard that the latter had met Munthe in Italy and considered him an expert at breaking marriages.87 Thus, when the doctor travelled to Russia, he failed to get through to the empress. Maria Pavlovna stayed on Capri for a while, and on Munthe’s advice turned her back on her friends and only associated with him and her mother-in-law. But soon she broke away from them and came to her father’s Parisian house. She could not say enough about the sinister Munthe and his blind tool, Victoria of Sweden. As she had every reason to expect her family to condemn her for leaving her marital home – and damaging Russo-Swedish relations as a result – it must be assumed that she partly exploited the Svengali-and-Trilby angle in order to shift blame. The Romanovs were put off by the famous psychiatrist forever. Her cousin Nicholas II sanctioned Maria’s divorce, and she remained in Russia. After 30 years of attending to the queen on Capri, Dr. Munthe did something that spa doctors were always accused of doing when they saw that they were

108  Spa life impotent against the illness: he advised her to return to Sweden where the climate, apparently, was no longer dangerous to her. But she settled in Rome and died soon after.

The second oldest profession: Gossip press Reporters followed the royalty and statesmen hoping to pick up either political news or simply gossip. When the German Crown Prince Frederick William came to San Remo in the winter of 1887–1888, the town filled with reporters. ‘The whole world had its eyes fixed on this town and this man’, the celebrated journalist Henri de Blowitz recalled later. It was known that the man was dying from cancer of the throat. Everyone wondered if he would live long enough to become emperor or if his son William would succeed to William I. As de Blowitz wrote, ‘among the palms and orange trees in blossom, there in the sunlight and the fragrance which bathed the white city’,88 the prince was dying and the reporters were avidly waiting for news. The hotel across the road from the prince’s villa was taken by journalists, who fought over the front rooms because they hoped to see into the villa’s windows, or the garden, or the balcony on which the prince rested in the mornings. A few American newspapers sent young women-­ reporters, expecting that ‘the fair sex’ would procure certain privileges from the prince’s retinue. But the courtiers remained discreet and distant. The reporters kept their cameras levelled at the hotel from morning to night, with nothing to show. To protect the prince from the press, a wall of green plants was constructed and a screen placed on the balcony. The journalists, women and men alike, moved to the hotel’s roof, to look and listen from there, but failed to get any information.89 One of them wrote: ‘So little is known as to what is going on around the Crown Prince that it is impossible even to exaggerate’.90 Then the crown prince received the news of his father’s death and left San Remo for Berlin as Emperor Frederick III. His reign lasted a few months. Meanwhile, ‘the king of reporters’, de Blowitz, at last got his scoop at San Remo by interviewing the landlady of the villa where Frederick III had stayed. Whether the lady told de Blowitz the truth or embroidered to make the story more interesting did not matter. He had a source for a report. Even the most innocent remarks might give rise to political complications if overheard by the wrong persons, reporters. On a sunny October afternoon of 1873, three years after the Franco-Prussian War, a veteran French publicist named Maxim du Camp watched ‘the Russian club’ in Baden-Baden – ­Princess Marie Dolgorouky, Bismarck’s friend Princess Leonilla Menchikova and others – at their usual observation post, a table on the sidewalk of the promenade. They all rose as the German Emperor William I walked out of the house where he was staying, accompanied by his aide, Prince Anton Radziwill. The emperor stopped to chat with the ladies, noticed that one of them was wearing a French monarchist emblem, a fleur de lys brooch, and complimented her on it. She said she got it from Paris where everyone was looking forward to the crowning of the pretender Count de Chambord. The king replied: ‘I hope that you are not mistaken and that

Making money out of pleasure   109 Count de Chambord will take the throne which belongs to him …but I doubt that he will succeed.’ As he glanced around, William I noticed Du Camp watching him. Du Camp was a well-known figure in Baden-Baden, a longtime acquaintance and confidant of the Russian chancellor Aleksandr Mikhailovich Gorchakov, the Prince Jerome Bonaparte and other political figures. Soon Radziwill came to make sure that Du Camp would not repeat what the king said while chatting to a group of women. It might be taken for a sign that Germany opposed the pretender. Du Camp reassured him: ‘I am not a newspaper reporter and I do not repeat what I overheard by chance’.91 This side of life at watering places made them potentially risky places for statesmen. Lord Salisbury regularly went to the quiet, remote Royat in order to shed some of his excessive bulk and after a cure quickly disappeared into his chalet in the Normandy countryside. He did not take to spa life for various reasons. His daughter wrote: ‘He never lost the mixture of scorn and moral reprobation with which the fashionable world had inspired him in his … youth’.92 He also avoided being seen in public, and when he met a colleague, it was away from reporters’ eyes. His political conversations at spas, when they happened, remained unrecorded – such as his known Royat meetings with another victim of hypertension, the Russian ambassador Baron Arthur Mohrenheim and the 1886 discussion with the French diplomat Alexandre de Chaudordy.

Political journalists at spas It was (and is) a general rule that ‘diplomats cannot divulge comments about countries where they had been posted, or narrate their own experiences’, unless authorized by their minister,93 so diplomats avoided speaking to newsmen unless they had a purpose in mind or were tempted beyond their endurance. A Russian newspaper magnate, A.S. Suvorin, whose newspaper, Novoye Vremya, published frequent criticisms of the Russian foreign service, met holidaying Russian diplomats at spas. Sometimes, like Petr Botkin, an attaché of the Russian legation in Washington, diplomats provided Suvorin with facts to illustrate the alleged inefficiency or foolishness of the Russian foreign ministry.94 Botkin was a scion of a Russian millionaire merchant family who entered the foreign service, dominated by the nobility, and fretted about the ‘glass ceiling’ that did not let him rise as high as he thought he deserved. Suvorin, at Biarritz, recognized Botkin’s frustrated ambitions and invited the young diplomat to write anonymously on Russian foreign policy Novoye Vremya. Botkin’s articles, very critical of his chiefs, gave Suvorin’s newspaper an important, if prejudiced, insider view of the foreign ministry.

A purpose in diplomats’ minds The German chancellor Bernhard von Bülow expressed the general opinion when he said that diplomats ‘… must mix … in commercial, industrial and financial circles, among parliamentary representatives, and last but not least, journalists.

110  Spa life Yes, they should make every effort to give the country they serve a ‘good press’.95 Foreign ministers and ambassadors had their ‘pet’ journalists to whom they fed information they wanted to become known. John Baddeley enjoyed an advantage over other foreign correspondents in St. Petersburg because he was a friend of the Russian statesman and diplomat, Petr Andreevich Shuvalov, who advised him to try journalism for a thrilling career. Shuvalov persuaded the editor of the influential London newspaper, The Standard, to hire the inexperienced young man by promising that he would supply him with scoops. Of course, Shuvalov warned Baddeley: ‘I can and do talk freely to you when it is only a matter of my own ideas and opinion, but I cannot tell you State secrets’.96 But the opinions of a man in Shuvalov’s position were symptomatic of the prevailing view in the Russian high spheres, as Baddeley well knew. The relationship was of mutual benefit: Baddeley had his scoops, and Shuvalov, to a certain degree, controlled the Russia-related information that would appear in The Standard. Diplomats talked to journalists when they wanted to reach broader audiences. In 1905, a group of important European diplomats gathered at Baden-Baden. The German chancellor von Bülow gave an interview to a French journalist, Edouard Lockroy. Bülow dined in the hotel dining room, at a table separated from the public by a row of potted palms, but he still spoke in a low voice, so as not to be overheard. To the interviewer’s disappointment, Bülow avoided talking about the most important issue of the moment, the Morocco conflict involving France and Germany.97 When the Italian foreign minister Tommaso Tittoni arrived at the spa, Lockroy interviewed him too, with much more satisfactory results. Tittoni discussed the Hague Peace conference to be held in 1907 and the Anglo-Japanese alliance that had just been renewed. The Italian was concerned about the possibility of an Anglo-German war, if England sided with France in the Morocco conflict. Most importantly, the journalist received the impression that Italy would not back its ally Germany at the coming Algeciras conference.98 Meanwhile, Bülow asked his pet journalist, Sigmund Münz, also in BadenBaden, to interview a retired Russian diplomat, Baron Georg von Staal, who represented Russia at the peace conference of 1899. Bűlow hoped to get a better idea of Russia’s stance at the coming conference. The elderly gentleman had a sunny outlook: he said that peace in Europe seemed to be assured for a long time; ­Anglo-­German tensions were transitory. He firmly believed that world peace would be maintained: ‘The terrors of the recent Russo-Japanese war will prevent any state from assuming the responsibility of another in the immediate future’.99 It was partly his generation speaking – the optimistic 19th century – and partly a message to his former colleagues to summon their common sense and not allow the Franco-German conflict to degenerate into a war. On the whole, Staal maintained the habitual diplomatic discretion. Journalists knew that at spas ‘diplomatists carried on their warfare with the assistance of the foreign correspondents of leading newspapers, especially those of London, to date “tendentious” communications from any but the real place of origin’.100 Quite often confidential information, as The Times’s foreign department director Sir Donald Mackenzie Wallace explained, was kept in the private

Making money out of pleasure   111 drawer of the editors of important newspapers to be used in the leader article at the right psychological moment and when the source could not be traced. Even the writer of the article was given the information but not the source.101 It was safer to start a rumour in a place where many statesmen on leave congregated because it would be almost impossible to trace it to the source. Sometimes a report was disavowed, but no one paid much heed to disavowals. A disavowal merely gave the interviewed person the benefit of the article without the responsibility.102 In any case, the experienced reporter de Blowitz advised his younger colleagues: When a man gives you an important piece of news, you should continue to remain with him for a while longer, turn the conversation to another topic. … If you rush out, the man will realize he gave away something and will beg not to repeat what he has said. A newspaper has no use for confidential information it cannot transmit to its readers.103

Downplaying a meeting Refusing an interview was a bad tactic when statesmen wanted to avoid conjectures and rumours. After an informal meeting they usually talked to reporters but limited themselves to general phrases. The contrast between a diplomat’s extensive report and the two-line item that appeared in the press on the same occasion illustrates this method. After the Anglo-Russian convention was signed in A ­ ugust 1907, the Russian foreign minister Aleksandr P. Iswolsky came to ­Carlsbad for his usual cure. King Edward VII, who was at Marienbad, invited him to lunch. Sir Edward Goschen, who accompanied the king, sent the ­foreign office a detailed report of his after-lunch sounding of the new Russian foreign minister As an ice-breaker, Goschen reminded Iswolsky of their time in ­Denmark, where they represented Britain and Russia, respectively. Goschen flattered Iswolsky by reminding him that at Copenhagen in 1905 he had discussed an Anglo-Russian rapprochement with Edward VII and told him that the new convention would have been impossible without Iswolsky’s tact, conciliatory spirit and broad-minded views. Goschen added: ‘I said I admired his courage and patience.’ This produced an emotional monologue from Iswolsky, who complained: ‘You think me too German, Germans [think me] too English, but I am Russian.’ He warned that he would have to be ‘nice’ to Austria and Germany because of Russia’s present weakness. He also stated that the domestic political struggle bet­ ween the liberals and the conservatives would influence Russian foreign policy. He explained that he valued the convention with Britain as a guarantee of peace in the Far East, but some of the Russian diplomatic representatives in the Far East might find it difficult to change from hostility to cooperation with Britain. He believed that Britain and Russia should watch out for German penetration of Persia, which the two powers had just partitioned into spheres of influence. Most significantly, Iswolsky said that although the convention mostly dealt with Asia, he hoped it would make its effects felt also in the Balkans, in Macedonia. As he

112  Spa life was taking leave with a case containing the Grand Cross of the Victorian Order under his arm,104 Iswolsky warned Goschen that ‘he had to give something to the press’, and the two diplomats then and there drafted a press statement about the lunch with King Edward.105 Journalists who had been waiting outside noted that the lunch lasted 45 minutes and that the king stayed closeted with Iswolsky and Goschen for 30 minutes.106 As for the conversation, all the press heard was that the new allies exchanged all sorts of optimistic promises.107

Notes 1 Touchard-Lafosse, 2:26–27. 2 Jean Lorrain, 108. 3 Louis Nadeau, 204–205. 4 S. D. Sazonov to D.I. Tolstoy, 9/22.5.1903, RGIA, 696–1–507, ll.66–7 ob. 5 Touchard-Lafosse, 2:59. 6 Anna Jacobsen, ‘Ruled by Routine and Ritual: Spatial Organization of the Spa Environment at Ronneby, South-East Sweden’, in Garden History 32, No. 2 (Winter 2004), 213–228. 7 Comtesse Dash, Bals masqués (Paris: Levy, 1857), 107. 8 S. Münz, Prince Bülow: The Statesman and the Man (London: Hutchinson, 1935), 158. 9 Heikke Lempa, ‘The Spa: Emotional Economy and Social Classes in Nineteenth-­ Century Pyrmont’, Central European History, 35, 1 (2002), 53. 10 ‘At the German Baths’, The Era, 19.6.1870. 11 E. Glyn, 43. 12 Bertal, 157. 13 ‘Hints to Foreign Tourists’, British Medical Journal, 2 (3 August 1872), 605:130. 14 ‘Hints to Foreign Tourists’. 15 Nadezhda Taffy, Sobranie sochinenii (Moscow: Knigovek, 2011), 257. 16 Countess Maria Berg to Count Boris Berg, 9.03.1904, GARF 547–1–839, ll.109–110 ob. 17 ‘Pour les blessés russes – une fête de charité à Nice’, Le Journal, 29.02.1904, 2. 18 Fedor Stepun, Byvshee i nesbyvsheesia, 114 (ePub). 19 Münz, 142–143. 20 ‘At the German Spas’, The Era, 19.6.1870. 21 Vicomtesse de Janzé, Étude et récits sur Alfred de Musset (Paris: Plon et Nourrit, 1891), 209. 22 Rumbold, 1:216–217. 23 Rumbold, 1:217. 24 M. Kalergis to her daughter, 17.10.1864, Marie von Mouchanoff-Kalergis, 144–145. 25 M. Kalergis to her daughter, 23.8.1866, Marie von Mouchanoff-Kalergis, 181–182. 26 M. Kalergis to F. Coudenhove, 10.9.1864, Marie von Mouchanoff-Kalergis, 139–140. 27 Editha von Rahden to Princess Cherkasskaia, 27.8/8.9.1860, OR RGB, 327/III–9–43, ll.31–32. 28 I.S.Turgenev to V.P. Botkin, 10/22.8.1866, Polnoe Sobranie Sochinenii (Moscow: Nauka, 1990), 7:53. 29 M. Kalergis to her daughter, 28.9.1865, Marie von Mouchanoff-Kalergis, 167–8. 30 M. Kalergis to her daughter, 23.8.1866, Marie von Mouchanoff-Kalergis, 181–182. 31 Pauline Viardot to Editha von Rahden, 7.10.1862, GARF, 698–1–56, ll.1–2 ob. 32 Pauline Viardot to Editha von Rahden, 9.10 [1864?], 13–14 ob.

Making money out of pleasure   113 33 I.S. Turgenev to P.V. Annenkov, 7/19.10.1867, Polnoe Sobranie Sochinenii 8:48. 34 ‘Foreign Notes’, The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular (September 1878), 1:501–502. 35 Daniel Dunglas Home, Incidents in My Life (London: A.J. Davis & Co, 1864), 167. 36 L. Sokolova, Dancing for Diaghilev: The Memoirs of Lydia Sokolova (San Francisco: Mercury House, Incorporated, 1990), 32. 37 Sokolova, 39. 38 Sokolova, 34–35. 39 Sverbeev, 409. 40 Gaston Jollivet, 53. 41 Jollivet, 50. 42 Bertal, 136–140. 43 Maurice de Waleffe, Quand Paris était un paradis. Mémoires 1900–1939 (Paris: Société des éditions Denoël, 1947), 115. 44 Le Figaro, 31.12. 1881,1–2. 45 Mrs. Belloc Lowndes, The Chink in the Armour (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1912), 50. 46 Le Figaro, 31.12. 1881,1–2. 47 Le Figaro, 9.7.1857, 6–7. 48 Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, 65. 49 E.J. Carter, ‘Breaking the Bank: Gambling Casinos, Finance Capitalism and German Unification,’ Central European History 39 (June 2006), 2:199. 50 ‘Multiple News Items’, The Morning Post, 11.6.1870, 4. 51 Cora Pearl, Memoires de Cora Pearl (Paris: Flammarion, 1898), 46. 52 B. von Hutten, Pam Decides (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1906), 252–253. 53 Le Figaro, 9.7.1857, 6–7. 54 Bertal, 520. 55 Jollivet, 102. 56 A. P. Chekhov, ‘Diary’, Sobranie sochinenii (Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Pravda, 1985), 12:372. 57 Arsène Houssaye, Les confessions (Genève: Slatkine, 1891), 6:6:47. 58 Houssaye, Les Confessions 6:43. 59 Ekaterina Ozerova to Princess A. Obolenskaya, 6/19.9.1905, GIM, 25–2–366, ll.124–5 ob. 60 A. N. Ostrovsky Bespridannitsa [Without dowry], Polnoe sobranie sochinenii (Moscow: GIHL, 1950), 8:238. 61 Pearl, 51. 62 A. Houssaye, Les mille et une nuits parisiennes (Paris: E. Dentu, 1875), 2:178–179. 63 Marie Colombier, Mémoires. Fin d’empire (Paris:Flammarion, 1898–1900), 168. 64 Houssaye, Les mille et une nuits parisiennes, 6:47–48. 65 Balsan, 61. 66 Houssaye, Les confessions, 1:77. 67 Baron Robert de Nervo, Les memoires de mon coupé (Paris: Calmann Levy, 1881), 76. 68 Houssaye, Les mille et une nuits parisiennes, 2:148. 69 Frederic Townsend Martin, Things I Remember (London: John Lane, 1913), 83. 70 Pearl, 51. 71 Colombier, Memoirs. Fin de l’empire, 159. 72 Colombier, 174. 73 Colombier, 174. 74 Maxime Du Camp, 28.8.1868, Souvenir du demi-siecle, 1:184. 75 S.I. Demidova, Diary, AVPRI, 340–897–2, l.1. 76 Editha von Rahden to Princess Cherkasskaia, 27.08/8.09.1860, OR RGB, 327/ III–9–43, ll.31–32.

114  Spa life 77 Review, British Medical Journal 2 (October 31, 1896), 1870:1325. 78 N. Taffy, ‘Pis’ma izdaleka’, Sobranie sochinenii (Moscow: Knigovek, 2011), 1:258. 79 Daria Lieven to Helène [Kotchubey], 23.08/1.09.1856, BL, Add 47419A, 124–5. 80 Sofia Demidova to Grand Duchess Xenia, 11.08/29.07.1905, GARF, 662–1–608, ll.58–59. 81 ‘Dnevnik A.A. Polovtsova’, Krasny Arkhiv (1923), 2:76. 82 2. Österreichische Badezeitung, 7. 1872, 1. 83 A. Savinsky, Diary, AVPRI, 340–834–27, 1.54 ob. 84 Savinsky, 1.51. 85 Savinsky, 1.48–49 ob. 86 Savinsky, 27, 1.59. 87 Savinsky, 1.50 ob. 88 M. de Blowitz, Memoirs of M. de Blowitz (New York: Doubleday, Page and Co., 1903), 279. 89 Blowitz, 280. 90 Cited in de Blowitz, 281. 91 Du Camp, 2:303–304. 92 Gwendolen Cecil, Life of Robert, Marquis of Salisbury (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1921), 6–7. 93 Satow, 5. 94 A.S. Suvorin, Dnevnik Alekseia Sergeevicha Suvorina. (London: Garnett Press, 2000), 23.09.1893, 188. 95 S. Münz, 206. 96 Baddeley, 271. 97 Münz, 113–118. 98 Münz, 138. 99 Münz, 151. 100 Sir Thomas Barclay, Thirty Years: Anglo-French Reminiscences (London, 1914), 25. 101 Sir Donald Mackenzie Wallace to Lord Knollys, ‘Director of the Foreign Department’, 19.9.1904, RA VIC/MAIN/W/45/1. (Quoted by permission of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.) 102 Barclay, 17. 103 Blowitz, 46. 104 ‘King at Marienbad’, 6.9.1907, The Manchester Guardian, 4. 105 Sir E. Goschen to Sir E. Grey, 5.09.1907, FO 800/40 (186), 120–123. 106 Philip Magnus, King Edward the Seventh (London: John Murray, 1964), 395–396. 107 Magnus, 395–396.

Part II

Business of Europe

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5 Royalty at spas

In the high spheres a serious cure is always more or less subordinated to secondary considerations… —Pavel Kiselev, Russian ambassador to France Majesties – human beings with royal faults.

—The Alphabet of a Diplomat

Royalty’s spa visits, like all their public appearances, fulfilled the ritual functions of monarchy: projecting a favourable image of the dynasty, maintaining relations with other rulers and with the class that supported them, aristocracy. Every summer the Prussian King William I visited Carlsbad, Gastein and Baden-Baden, and at one of them he met with the Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph II. In 1863 The Times emphasized that ‘[n]o great harm can arise from an exchange of opinion between the two Sovereigns; but mischief may happen should M. von Bismarck be allowed to take the field’.1 Sovereigns’ meetings only had a political agenda if their foreign ministers were present. Over the century, the decision-making power moved from kings to their cabinets, and the times when a monarch’s word might bind him and his nation ‘in honour’ to a certain policy2 were gone. A sovereign could even take his word back, as happened in 1905, when the Russian autocrat, without consulting his ministers, signed a secret treaty with the German emperor at Björko and then was forced to go back on it. It was traditional for royal curists during their visit to give alms and to make charitable donations to local good causes. Monarchs bestowed happiness on the mortals who saw them at closer quarters than usual. Only those spa seasons were deemed successful which counted with royalty’s presence. Ems was very brilliant in 1859 because ‘[The Dowager] Empress Alexandra Fedorovna came there for a few weeks assembling all her Prussian family around her’.3 Never in Paris, but always at spas, the French Empress Eugenie took long walks, wearing a straw hat and leaning on a cane. Although she was followed by a suite, she relished the illusion of being unrecognized. At Eaux-Bonnes, one day she ran into an old peasant woman selling herbs and bought the whole lot. When the empress gave her three gold coins, far more than the peasant asked, the simple

118  Business of Europe soul said: “You must be the emperor’s wife, if you are so rich!” and ­Eugenie confirmed, much amused.4 The memoirist hastened to add that he had not witnessed the episode, which is similar to all stock anecdotes about good kings. Accessibility was not always a blessing: the future Russian Emperor Nicholas II wrote to his sister from a Russian resort: ‘regarding petitions, I am getting oodles every day everywhere: as I am leaving the bathing pavilion…’.5

Planning a royal cure Dynastic and political considerations prevailed in choosing the place and timing of royal cures.6 A member of a royal family left for a foreign spa with instructions from the foreign minister as to the desirability of contacts with the officialdom of the host country or foreign political figures. The aunt of the Russian Emperor Alexander II, Grand Duchess Elena, wrote to the Russian foreign minister on the eve of her departure for Nice: ‘I am authorized to do any polite gestures which would be opportune during my stay in France’,7 On other occasions she avoided meetings with royal hosts. In 1867, the French side was informed in advance that on her way home from spas the grand duchess would spend two weeks in Paris at the time when the imperial couple was away: She asks you to tell their Majesties [Napoleon III and Eugenie] that she would regret if she were deprived of a pleasure of seeing them, but at the same time she wishes that the expression of her regrets should not cause any disruption of their Majesties’ personal plans.8 In 1899, the gossip of the Russian imperial family Grand Duke Nikolai Mikhailovich assured Nicholas II that he was on his best behaviour in Cannes: ‘Foreign princes are swarming the Riviera like flies, but I ignore them’.9 Royalty’s visits to spas usually took place incognito: at Aix-les-Bains, Queen Victoria was Countess of Balmoral and Alexander II came to Ems as Count Borodinsky. Incognito signalled that the royal person was not available for official business or ceremonies and that his or her participation in local social life would be minimal. Still, the visit of a royal figure to a foreign country was negotiated through diplomatic channels and announced in the press. The risks of being a head of state were well known. By the end of the 19th century, most European sovereigns had life insurances. Before his marriage, Edward Prince of Wales took out an insurance, with his wife Alexandra as the beneficiary. The king of Portugal was insured for £600,000, and King Oscar of Sweden for £850,000.10 As soon as the French police learned about the pending arrival of a royal visitor to a spa, an officer was sent to inform the local police and the municipal authorities. He investigated the credentials and background of every guest at the hotel where the royal person would stay and of all the foreigners residing in the area because they might be political exiles hatching a conspiracy.11 A system of constant but discreet surveillance was set up.12

Royalty at spas  119 After all, it was in the Baden-Baden promenade that a man fired a shot at the Prussian king William I in 1861. The bullet missed the blank and the people around overpowered the man. The king, as befitted an officer and a gentleman, ‘maintained a wonderful calm and sangfroid and continued his walk’, but he was deeply shaken.13 Showing fear was inadmissible, and the day after King William appeared in the promenade at the usual time. An elementary precaution for the royals was keeping away from throngs. For safety, monarchs occupied the entire first floor of a hotel and ate in the restaurant after other guests had dined. The Russian dowager empress Maria Fedorovna stayed at the Biarritz Hotel du Palais in a suite with a private entrance. Both her suite and the rooms of her retinue opened into a hallway closed to the public.14

Grand Duchess Elena at spas: Rest and service Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna was a dedicated curist with a set routine combining the care of her health and gaining friends for Russia. As soon as she arrived, an Orthodox priest came to bless her rented villa. Then she received the local authorities who came to greet her. Every day she strolled in town, accompanied by a member of her court or her physician. In a cafe she sat at any vacant table, chatted with the waitresses and left generous tips. A memoirist compared her conduct to that of the rulers of small German principalities whose hauteur was in inverse proportion to their political weight. At the same café, a Hessian grand duke had a table set at a distance from customers of lower birth. A strictly counted number of upholstered chairs were placed around his table so that no uninvited company could join him.15 The grand duchess avoided going out to balls and concerts at the casino, probably sharing her secretary Baroness von Rahden’s opinion of Baden-Baden during the season: ‘the useless and idle people from entire Europe come together to kill time in all possible manners … from morning to night there is nothing but visits, dinners, concerts, evening parties’. Rahden made an exception for the grand duchess’s friends: ‘Only a few men and women are worthwhile’: the Prussian Count Flemming (and his wife, the daughter of Goethe’s correspondent Bettina von Arnim); the British politician and novelist Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the fashionable French author Arsène Houssaye, and musicians, Maria Kalergis and Pauline Viardot among them.16 The people who wanted to meet Elena Pavlovna signed their names in a book that was kept in the hall, and later she had invitations sent out to those who interested her. A French memoirist wrote: A very educated and well-informed woman, she took an almost passionate interest in all the contemporary issues and wanted to meet all the prominent men, whatever their nationality, their views or their rank. She prized discussion almost as much as information and the doors of her [Carlsbad] salon opened to everyone who was capable of contributing to the conversation.17 Elena Pavlovna hosted small musical parties and at some point during her stay arranged a gala performance for all her acquaintances. As she grew

120  Business of Europe older, the grand duchess became a recluse. She would take a ride in a buggy pulled by a donkey early in the morning before the fashionable crowd was up and stayed indoors for the rest of the day. Those who sought to be introduced to her were told that she only received old acquaintances. She still offered hospitality to her friends, but a young relative or a secretary did the honours and the grand duchess only appeared for a moment.18 At the end of her stay, she always offered a ball in the park of her villa to all the locals whose services she had used.19

Empress Eugenie represents France In September 1864, Empress Eugenie was so upset upon learning about her husband’s new mistress that she stopped eating and complained of stomach pains; the doctors prescribed a cure in Schwalbach.20 Her visit became an opportunity to celebrate Franco-German friendship. Her retinue was carefully chosen: two of her ladies grew up in Berlin, spoke fluent German and were well known in German high society, and the third one was a beauty.21After the imperial train crossed the German border, at every station local authorities offered the empress bouquets, enthusiasts decorated the locomotive with flowers and crowds greeted her. At the Wiesbaden station, the Duke of Nassau’s adjutant met her to give excuses for the duke who was away at the time and offered her the court carriages for travelling to Schwalbach. Eugenie declined the offer because she wanted to be independent.22 Eugenie stayed at Villa Huber which had earlier been occupied by the Russian empress Marie.23 In the morning, Eugenie walked down the connecting gallery to the Kurhaus to drink Schwalbach water. Its bitter taste and rusty colour was offputting, so it was mixed with wine, milk or whey. The patients who were afraid of staining their teeth sipped the water through a metal tube. Every other day at noon Eugenie took peat baths. They were made of a mixture of sieved peat with mineral water, stirred, heated by steam and poured into a copper tub.24 The empress and her retinue took their meals at the villa. Initially, Eugenie wanted her chef to cook only French-grown products, but after a putrid chicken arrived from France she sensibly switched to a local butcher. In daytime Eugenie went on excursions or strolled downtown. She did not go into the casino25 but did look into the local boutiques, declared that she loved Schwalbach and would return the next summer. Wherever Eugenie went in town, a crowd followed her, gawking at the woman who enjoyed a European reputation for beauty and elegance. Eugenie’s severe dress, her round black bonnet and her walking cane were described in every newspaper.26 Her husband’s cousin, Queen Sophie of Holland, the Prussian king and German princes visited her. The Russian Emperor Alexander came from the nearby Jugenheim. Tall, blond and blue-eyed, he looked younger than his 46 years. Eugenie’s ladies noticed that he was wearing a heavy gold chain on his wrist, a Russian custom meaning that he was ‘chained to a beautiful lady’.27 No one doubted that ‘the beautiful lady’ was not his consumptive wife, the mother of

Royalty at spas  121 seven.28 The visits of her crowned guests brought the little spa into the news, and the place filled with tourists.29 On the way back Eugenie returned the visit of William of Prussia.30 At the Karlsruhe train station, the king in full uniform greeted Eugenie, and they drove in an open carriage to the palace where his queen was waiting. Eugenie was taken to her rooms, but as soon as she began to get undressed in order to wash off the dust that had settled during the train journey, the king arrived: etiquette required him to visit her 15 minutes after she arrived in his palace. She put back on the same clothes and came out for a 30-minute talk. Then she had a 15-minute respite, and it was her turn to visit the royal couple and to return to her train.31 The visit was deemed a success, but Eugenie never returned to Schwalbach.

Queen Victoria’s rest cures Because of her age and general disposition, Queen Victoria was reclusive during her visits to continental spas. In 1896, she stayed at the Hotel de Cimiez in Nice.32 Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria-Hungary and Empress Elizabeth were also on the Riviera and asked permission to visit her. As was Francis Joseph’s habit, they arrived earlier than agreed. The British officer on duty was still out to lunch, so the guests were introduced directly into the queen’s presence. The old lady had not finished her meal and was flustered because she barely had time to put on her gloves before her guests appeared. (The only time when people appeared without gloves was during meals.) The next year, once again the Austrian emperor asked to visit her. This time the queen ordered her lunch to be served earlier, but he came still earlier and once again caught her at the table.33 At her age and with a lifelong habit of following conventions, she must have found these situations very trying. Beyond courtesy visits, the queen did not have a political agenda attached to her spa stays. If needed, the foreign secretary let her know that she should talk to a foreign dignitary about a certain issue. Victoria’s incognito visit to Aix-les-Bains in 1885 took place at the time of a grave Russo-British crisis in Afghanistan. The queen did not cancel her planned cure, so the British press emphasized that she was following her physicians’ advice and that she would maintain telegraph communication with her ministers.34 With her daughter Beatrice and her physician, Sir William Jenner, the old queen came on board her yacht to Cherbourg and then continued by train. The preparations for her arrival had begun in Aix some time before. Her honorary guard were sent from Paris, lodgings were reserved and the rates of accommodation in town soared. When the train pulled into the station, there was no official reception, but the public was not allowed on the platform. The queen stayed at a villa in the park of the Hotel d’Europe. Every day the queen went out in a pony cart for a slow ride, with her homely, melancholy daughter walking by her side. The park where she rode was closed to the public.35 Her old masseuse (‘rubber’) came every day at six in the morning to attend her and Princess Beatrice. Her lady-in-waiting was the only one who took baths.36

122  Business of Europe The scant information about the queen’s holiday came from official communiqués issued by the court: journalists were kept at a distance. On 22 April Victoria left for Germany, for a postcure and a meeting with her German family. The foreign secretary Lord Granville sent her a request relating to the Anglo-­ Russian tensions. Her grand-daughter Elisabeth of Hesse-Darmstadt was married to one of Emperor Alexander’s younger brothers, Sergei. Granville asked the queen to tell Grand Duke Sergei during the meeting at Darmstadt that she hoped that the opening afforded ‘in the last dispatch of Your Majesty’s government’ will enable the Emperor to secure peace.37 The queen did as requested: she wrote a French note, ostensibly for the grand duke, asking him to assure his brother of her peaceful dispositions and to ignore the British newspaper articles, ‘to which the great freedom of press in England allows sometimes to interpret in an overly violent and exaggerated manner the sentiment of the nation’.38 The grand duke duly passed the letter on to the emperor, who never bothered to mention it to his own foreign minister N. K. Giers.39

Politics at the Riviera Empress Alexandra of Russia came to the fishing port of Nice in November 1856. The Piedmont-Sardinian prime minister, Count Camillo Cavour, seeking Russia’s support in his coming war against Austria-Hungary, outdid himself in attentions to the mother of the Russian emperor Alexander II. He offered her Villa Avigdor, the most beautiful house in Nice and paid for its repairs and lease. Local officials called on her and on other Romanovs at the beginning and end of their stay. During her stay, the authorities arranged illumination, serenades, receptions and feasts.40 Cavour offered Russia the use of the nearby port Villafranca for the Russian navy, and a Russian steamship company established a regular line to the port. Alexandra decided to return, so she bought a terrain and started a subscription among the resident Russians to build a church. It opened its doors on 12 January 1860.41 When Alexandra returned in 1857, she brought a large retinue and started the fashion of wintering in Nice among the Russian aristocracy, to the annoyance of the small British colony.42 When France annexed Nice in 1859, the French government instructed the local authorities to continue their attentions to the dowager. Knowing this, the local residents presented a petition asking Alexandra to drive through a certain neighbourhood so that the roads would be repaired there.43 Local newspapers constantly reported on Alexandra’s and her sister-inlaw Elena Pavlovna’s generous patronage of local businesses and charities. Elena paid for the improvement of conditions in the local prison. Both ladies gave alms, bought local artists’ works and hired musicians; they helped to set up the first savings bank in Nice. Because there was no social centre in Nice, they supported the campaign for building a casino and became its first shareholders. Nice became the only winter-station comparable to the super-elitist Trouville, Biarritz and Baden-Baden because of the presence of the Romanovs and their relatives from Central and Western Europe.44

Royalty at spas  123

Figure 5.1  Nice, 1909. Courtesy of Gravure Department, Russian National Library.

Royalty at spas ran the challenges of heightened visibility and audience expectations45 which they did not always justify. At the turn of the century, Alexandra’s numerous adult grandchildren spent winters on the French Atlantic coast, flaunting their gambling habits and affairs to the curious crowds. In early 1905, as Russia was fighting a war against Japan and a revolution broke out in the country, a French aristocrat, Alfred de Gramont, wrote in his diary: The Russian emperor summoned to Petersburg his uncle Grand Duke Paul, who was in disgrace for having married Mme. Pistohlkors. I knew the husband Pistohlkors in Marienbad, when he was the aide of Grand Duke Wladimir, while his wife was the mistress of Grand Duke Paul. Generally speaking, these grand-dukes are weird: there are some in Biarritz, Cannes, Nice, Monte-Carlo, everywhere, and meanwhile their country is suffering horrible defeats abroad and is almost in revolution internally’.46

Royalty hunters and huntresses At spas, members of royalty were relentlessly pursued by the ambitious men and especially women, les chasseresses royales [royalty huntresses], who tried to attract their interest.47 Usually the motivation was career. A diplomat’s promotion, like that of the military and courtiers, depended on his intimacy with members of the royal family. The Russian chancellor Nesselrode congratulated the ambassador to Vienna, when Empress Alexandra requested his company during her cure at Schlangenbad.48 Monarchs feared boredom and usually welcomed new acquaintances. A spa introduction to a sovereign did not entail the right to appear at the court and thus was easier to obtain than in town. In 1866 in Kissingen, the wife of a former French foreign minister, Countess Walewsky, achieved her life’s dream: she was

124  Business of Europe introduced to the Austrian imperial couple. The event took place in the town square, where a crowd witnessed the countess’s triumph.49 An ambitious gentleman from minor Hungarian gentry explained how he planned his spa campaign. After a chance meeting with Princess Louise of Saxe-Cobourg, he decided to enter her intimate circle. He was not received in the aristocratic salons, so he could not seek an introduction in Vienna. In February 1895, Princess Louise joined her sister Archduchess Stephanie in Abbazia. The enterprising gentleman wrote: ‘When I learned it, I went to this place and was introduced into the small circle.’ The archduchess invited guests in the evenings; there was dancing, and the man had opportunities to chat with Princess Louise and pay court to her. Soon she asked him to become her Master of the Horse, and eventually he became her lover.50 The Prussian king came to spas without his wife and enjoyed the company of pretty young women. One day in the Ems promenade, he introduced himself to the young Countess Kessler and began a conversation. The countess wrote: A few days later the king warned me of his visit and came to see me. In the small Ems, which was very fashionable, but extremely gossipy, it created sensation, because the king only visited his very old friends or other royalty. The fury and envy were boundless, especially among the women to whom the king usually talked during his strolls.51 The countess’s life became very hectic because of the king’s favour: William I or a royal prince or princess might show up at her place at any moment without prior notice.52 The new favourite at once was adopted by a group of Prussian courtiers, military officers and young diplomats. Every morning after a visit to the fountain, they took coffee on the Kurhaus terrace,53 keeping an eye on the entrance where the king might appear. When he approached Countess Kessler, her companions would join in the conversation, and they might share in her luck. Countess Kessler attributed her rise mostly to chance, although envious contemporaries pointed out that she had stood for days in a strategically chosen spot on the promenade wearing a pretty gown in William I’s favourite shade of blue until he noticed her.54 Sometimes spa acquaintances tried to recruit royal persons to serve their political interests. King Edward VII had many Russian acquaintances thanks to his visits to Russia as the British heir. During Marienbad meetings, he sounded them about Russian affairs, and in the 1900s he heard more and more complaints about Nicholas II’s incompetence.55 The Russians hoped to induce King Edward to give their emperor a good talking-to: Nicholas would be obliged to let his uncle speak. But the king did not put at risk Anglo-Russian relations and did not accept the thankless role of a talking head. In a similar hope in 1901, several Russian noblemen at Wiesbaden approached Nicholas’s brother-in-law, the Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt. They wanted him to tell Nicholas II that his domestic measures were undermining the autocracy. The grand duke suggested instead that he would introduce them to their emperor during his visit so that they could speak to him directly.56

Royalty at spas  125

The Prince of Wales Victoria’s heir endeared himself to the European fast set by his reputation of a sportsman, gambler and womanizer.57 He gave much attention to his looks, and as he was obese, his elegance was a daily triumph over nature. On the continent the Prince of Wales set the standard for masculine elegance58 and, because of his numerous mistresses and lavish lifestyle, he was considered a man who knew how to enjoy life. By 1901, he had chosen two spas that suited him perfectly: Biarritz in early spring and Homburg in the fall. Biarritz had a wonderful climate, and the public was pleasantly carefree about time and money. The women – both society ladies and demi-mondaines – were the richest and the most elegant; the spa’s golfing centre was the largest on the continent.59 In February or March, the king got off the train at the station decorated with greenery, trophies and British flags, and was received by the local officials and the British consul. The resort instantly filled with the British and Americans who were hoping to get close to the king, or at least to see him. His family members avoided Biarritz at such times, so that everyone’s rest would be complete. His brother Prince Alfred went to the Riviera and Kissingen while Edward was in Biarritz and Homburg.60 The king played golf, did excursions and exchanged visits with friends and distant relatives who stayed at villas around the town. British newspapers listed the names of the king’s Biarritz companions but tactfully omitted the name of his mistress, Mrs. Keppel, who usually came to Biarritz with her daughters at the same time and stayed at the villa owned by the king’s financier friend Sir Ernest Cassel. Cassel’s social life ‘was a means and not an end; and the roots of the very warm sympathy which he felt with King Edward VII were sunk deeply and securely into the human soil of an exceptionally imperious love of power.’61 The king was Cassel’s passport into the political establishment that formed part of London society. While his aristocratic prejudice was as strong as that of his mother, Edward VII was a man of the new, capitalist epoch and a dedicated consumer. For those who could offer him luxury he dispensed with conventions. A French aristocrat observing Edward VII at Marienbad wrote: [T]he King of England visits all the Jews and financiers, … he borrows from them very large sums for his personal expenses, never pays back and pays them in visits, favours and titles of lords, which cost him nothing.62 At Biarritz the king received and sent London mail by messenger, but government ministers visited him there on counted occasions, as in April 1906, during a political crisis caused by the death of the prime minister Sir Henry Campbell-­ Bannerman. The Times was critical of the king because he did not interrupt his holidays when he knew that Campbell-Bannerman was dying.63 Instead, he summoned Asquith to Biarritz and asked him to form a government. British newspapers gushed over the king’s suite at Hotel du Palais, which was furnished ‘in a tasteful style’, but at the same time with a ‘very homely appearance’: homeliness implied domesticity, thrift and other virtues dear to the middle

126  Business of Europe class reader. The suite occupied most of the hotel’s wing, had a private entrance from the courtyard and a private exit to the terrace overlooking the sea.64 It had to be on the first floor because the king’s shortness of breath made it difficult for him to walk up the stairs.65

Homburg The king’s obesity and thick neck worried his physicians as likely meaning he was at risk of a stroke. He also suffered from a chronic smoker’s catarrh. Prime Minister Lord Salisbury told the French ambassador, when Edward was still in his 40s, that he had phlebitis, looked swollen, and did not dance at the balls. Salisbury thought the prince should rest and lead a regular life, but that was not his habit, so the only hope was a Homburg cure,66 which Edward took every year, attracting crowds of the British to the German spa. Every morning at Homburg the prince with his retinue, including the British ambassador to Berlin, strolled in the long alley between Ludwig and Elizabeth sources, sipping mineral water. Sometimes he joined his German relatives, the old Duke of Cambridge, the blind duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Detectives watched them from a distance.67 The Prince of Wales complained that in Homburg he was flooded with German mail – business proposals, patronage requests and petitions – so a German diplomat volunteered to help the prince’s secretary during the spa stay in 1892 and joined the prince’s circle.68 He described Edward’s company. Henry Labouchere, the owner of the newspaper Truth, which had attacked the prince on several occasions, also took cures in Homburg. In a small place the two men often ran into each other, and Labouchere made a point of showing his contempt by refusing to salute the prince. The prince referred to him as ‘that viper Labouchere’. But on someone’s advice he decided to win Labouchere over and invited him to discuss politics. Labouchere could not resist the attentions of the future king and peace was made,69 at least in appearance. Edward’s constant companion in Homburg was the financier Maurice de Hirsch who made his fortune on building railways in Turkey. Apart from his wealth, Hirsch had no charms, and he was a poor conversationalist: he spoke a lingo, a mix of English, French and German. The memoirist tactfully said that Hirsch was ‘a mix of generosity and greed’: he reserved a special roulette table for himself and his guests at the casino but never staked more than a gold louis, which he placed with a trembling hand.70 To remain in his circle, Hirsch had to throw money at the British heir. Homburg was close to the country residence of the prince’s older sister Victoria, the wife and then the widow of Frederick III, and Edward always visited her. His nephew William II stayed in nearby Wiesbaden, so they exchanged visits, too – a circumstance that was not favourable to their relations. The German State Secretary Bülow compared Edward VII’s manner with the German emperor to ‘a fat, mean cat playing with a shrew’.71 Their meetings only increased their mutual dislike and led to periodic outbursts of ill feeling captured and magnified by newspapers. In August 1902, just on the eve of Edward VII’s arrival at Homburg – for

Royalty at spas  127 the first time as the king – his sister died. It was the king’s last visit to Homburg: he switched to Marienbad.

The British at Marienbad Austrians created Marienbad’s popularity, and the French propelled it to European fame. In 1891, there was so much traffic between Paris and the Bohemian spa area that the French Compagnie de l’Est brought back the old Orient Express via Stuttgart to Marienbad. Since 1903, a considerable proportion of the passengers were Britons eager to get close to their king during his Marienbad cure. Marienbad was popular because of its signature treatments of liver, kidney stones and, above all, obesity. But the general opinion was that the obese went to Marienbad to lose weight and the thin to gain it.72 It was a very pleasant place to be, and that counted more than the cures. Marienbad was a quieter area than Homburg, which was popular with elderly statesmen and the exiled Bourbons.

Figure 5.2  ‘ Ulk’. King Edward VII at Marienbad, 1903. Wikimedia Internet Archive Book Images.

128  Business of Europe The Austrian authorities watched the goings-on in the town, quickly putting a stop to anything that might hurt high-born guests. In 1897, a young Prince Metternich and his friends played baccarat at a cafe chantant in Marienbad. When Metternich’s father heard that his son had lost 20,000 florins, he wired the governor of Bohemia who telegraphed to Marienbad to close the cafe and expel in 24 hours the two men who held the bank.73 Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, who was to become the Liberal prime minister under Edward VII, came to Marienbad every year from 1872 to 1906.74 He prized Marienbad for its tranquility. With regret he wrote in 1899: ‘We are having a first-rate holiday here: weather superb; society indifferent – verging on bad. The illustrious Sun is disturbing and there are no stars visible in the firmament around him’.75 He referred to the first visit of the Prince of Wales and to the crowd that followed the prince: Whether on account of the Prince’s presence or not, the English and American society here has contained an extraordinary number of tainted ladies – including five divorcees and about ten other of varying degrees of doubtfulness. The decent people were almost a minority and we thought of wearing our marriage certificates as a sort of order outside our coats.76 When Edward came to Marienbad as the king, Campbell-Bannerman wrote ironically that ‘the great man’ was ‘beset with a cloud of bluebottles’,77 the British – and to a lesser degree, foreign-snobs who thronged Marienbad in 1903–1909 to see the king. It was calculated that his presence brought the number of visitors to Marienbad up to 20,000 guests. Hundreds of British tourists were waiting for him at the station when he arrived. The British season was not over until the king left.78 In the 1900s, old Henry Labouchere also moved to Marienbad. Although he said to a journalist that he came to Marienbad because he liked the place, not because he thought the waters of any use – or those of Homburg, either … – whether taken by the glass or the bucket. His cynical common sense rebelled against accepting any temporary remedy as efficacious for the cure of complaints which were often due to a lifelong violation of the laws of hygiene, particularly as regards eating and drinking. … In referring to a prominent person who was reputed to be a free liver [Edward VII?], he said: ‘If a man has been living like a beast for the best part of his life, the proper remedy in his case, far better than any waters, is to tie him up like a dog in a kennel. This will keep him out of harm’s way, and then nature will do the rest’.79

The King’s routine The Prince of Wales first came to Marienbad as Lord Renfrew; when he became king, he promoted himself to the ‘Duke of Lancaster’. As he was incognito, the only official persons to welcome him at the station were the British

Royalty at spas  129 ambassador and the city fathers. Security in town was strengthened, and notices were placed everywhere, asking ‘not to bother our exalted guest from England’. He always stayed in the first-floor suite of five rooms at the yellow-­ painted Weimar Hotel. The suite was furnished in English style, with a fireplace and leather armchairs. Every year after he left, the furniture and fittings were auctioned by the hotel owner, and by the next year the suite was refurnished and redecorated. During his stay, either his host, the Austrian Emperor Francis-Joseph II, visited him in Marienbad or the king went to see him at Ischl. If the king was accompanied by his friend, the Permanent Under-Secretary of the Foreign Office Charles Hardinge, diplomats discussed political issues. Edward VII received foreign royalty and politicians who happened to be in the vicinity or travelled expressly to observe etiquette. In 1905, the Montenegrin Prince Mirko and his German wife several times dined with Edward and accompanied him to see the popular operetta, Strauss’s Zigeuner Baron. The Balkan region was a known cauldron of trouble, and as the British ambassador to Vienna Sir Edward Goschen was also present, the press considered it significant,80 but it was not, as Goschen assured the foreign secretary. All Lansdowne replied to his letter was: ‘Your report of Prince Mirco’s[sic] conversation is interesting, but does not draw an attractive picture of the man’.81 The king followed the same routine as other guests. In the morning, his Austrian valet brought him his first daily glass of water; then he took a bath and his doctor examined him. At 8 am he drank the second glass at the source. At this hour, ladies were already in the promenade, dressed in draped and tight-fitting white linen skirts, frilled white blouses and wide-brimmed hats decorated with bunches of flowers or fruits. Tourists were kept out of the garden when the king was there. He strolled among other men dressed in suits in all shades of grey, soft Homburg hats, a walking cane or a furled umbrella in one hand, a mug of water in the other.82 When he returned to the hotel for breakfast,83 British visitors formed a silent, worshipful alley. The king crossed the lobby of the hotel preceded by a secretary who was carrying a thick briefcase of red Moroccan leather. Old English ladies fussed anxiously over the foreigners seated in the lobby, telling them to stand up. Someone seeing this elderly man in thick woollen stockings and a Tyrolean hat might not recognize a monarch in him. With age he looked more and more like his mother Victoria, a French memoirist wrote: he had the same stocky corpulence, the same bulging blue eyes, but he was straight and walked briskly.84 Dr. Ernst Ott, the Marienbad medical celebrity, prescribed a diet for him, and at every meal the king was offered two menus to choose from. On a diet of vegetables and trout he lost 11 pounds in two weeks.85 Sometimes he played cricket or golf, in the evening he went to concerts or the theatre. The king’s messenger arrived with papers every two days.86 On Sundays he attended the service at the Anglican church.87 And all the time the king shuttled between Carlsbad and Marienbad, exchanging visits with his acquaintances and relatives.88

130  Business of Europe The king relied on his friends to arrange occasions for him to meet the ladies who were not considered respectable enough to be introduced. His Parisian friend, Marquise de Ganay, arranged a dinner after which the beautiful Lina Cavalieri sang for the king. Her celebrity as a cocotte was much greater than her operatic art. When she was auditioning for the Covent Garden and named an outrageous sum she wanted for singing in an opera production, the director said, ‘But, Madame, we only want you to sing!’ La Cavalieri sang for Edward VII in Marienbad, but something went wrong with this potentially beautiful friendship, for in 1909 when she came to London and became the toast of high society, the king banned all mention of the singer’s name. Lady Ripon wrote: he ‘gets red with fury when he hears her name’.89 Maude Allan was an ‘impressionistic’ (i.e., untrained) dancer remembered mostly for her Dance of the Seven Veils in which she appeared swathed in multicoloured chiffon and gradually dropped the veils to music. She performed for the king at Marienbad, too, in a private performance arranged by a Mrs. HallWalker in her hotel suite.90 A famous Parisian chansonnette, Yvette Guilbert, sang for him after another dinner. She said later that she sang old English songs to the king, but Mlle. Guilbert had become a celebrity by singing amusing little doggerels verging on the obscene. This star of the prewar Paris had a tall flat body, low cut dress which hides nothing, because there is nothing to hide, thin long arms, dyed colourless hair, colourless eyes. A long pale green dress and elbow-length black gloves. A tired, bored face. Impressionists love such pale, wilted figures. … When she sings you understand the meaning of the French phrase “Mieux que belle”[better than beautiful]: all her face comes alive and you would swear you have never seen a lovelier face than this woman with laughter in her eyes. … She makes you laugh at the stupid rich men who are such easy marks and she can make you choke on your tears.91 As it was widely known that the king was partial to good-looking women, some put themselves in his way at Marienbad, hoping to join the crowd of king’s mistresses. In 1908, an American actress Maxine Elliott tried to catch the old, jaded Edward VII. She stayed at a hotel across from his and studied his routine for a few days. Every morning he strolled down the same alley, stopped at the Kurhaus for a glass of water, then returned. Miss Elliott made a habit of sitting on a bench in the alley in her most elegant white linen hobble skirt and her most becoming white lawn blouse with a book that she pretended to read. Every time that the king’s party passed her, she would lift her head and stare at them until she was sure they noticed her. They walked by. Then one day one of the group returned and invited her to dinner, telling her that the invitation would be delivered to her hotel.92 At Marienbad the king approached the ladies who interested him, with the Austrian ambassador to St. Petersburg, Count Leopold von Berchtold, acting as a go-between. The elegant, suave womanizer Berchtold obliged but privately disapproved. He recorded in his diary that Edward VII drove around Marienbad in

Royalty at spas  131 an open carriage with his former mistress in the rear and a lady of doubtful reputation facing him. ‘Une royauté en decadence, [monarchy in decay]’ Berchtold wrote in his diary, ‘the return to the disgusting and shameful Georgian traditions after the Victorian era of moral greatness’.93

The season of 1907 On 14 August 1907, the king met William II at Wilhelmshöhe and invited him to England, while Sir Charles Hardinge had a fruitful interview with the German State Secretary; Edward VII and Francis Joseph then met at Ischl on 15 August, and Edward VII met the French premier Clemenceau on 21 August in Carlsbad. On 31 August the king was informed by telegram that the Anglo-Russian Convention had been signed in St. Petersburg. He telegraphed congratulations to his government and invited the Russian foreign minister Aleksandr P. Iswolsky to visit him in Marienbad. Iswolsky accepted the invitation as a sign of a new friendship between Britain and Russia. Sir Charles Hardinge approvingly wrote to the king that the Marienbad audience ‘will complete the chain of interviews of last month, which I feel confident will be productive of good results’ and advised the king to lavish flattery upon the Russian minister.94 Iswolsky came to Marienbad with Sir Edward Goschen, the British ambassador to Vienna and Iswolsky’s former colleague in Denmark. It was Iswolsky’s first meeting with the king at a spa. He took annual cures at Carlsbad, and a standing invitation from the king made him part of the king’s circle. The king’s meetings with foreign statesmen at Marienbad were mostly social: he looked for amusing company. If they talked politics, it had to be interspersed with other subjects of more interest to him. When the king met Georges Clemenceau, Iswolsky or Count Berchtold, political conversation was an introduction to the subject of women.95

King Edward and Clemenceau Carlsbad was the habitual summer residence of the French politician, nicknamed ‘Tiger’ for his temper.96 Like the king, Georges Clemenceau was a chronic smoker and asthmatic, had a hollow smoker’s cough, and besides suffered from circulation problems and eczema, which made him wear gloves all the time. For 22 years every August, Clemenceau spent two to three weeks in Carlsbad.97 He took the required three glasses of water daily and strolled and sat on the verandah of a café watching the passers-by. It might seem an unusually passive pastime for a man of his temperament if it had not been for the acquaintances he met there: ‘It is the Vichy of Eastern Europe. Russians, Poles, Germans, Danubians, Greeks and Turks … march in serried regiments to demand from the Sprudel the healing which divine grace and holy icons have not granted them.’ At Carlsbad he struck acquaintance with Edward VII.98 Clemenceau had plans for Britain: an Anglo-French entente had been his goal since the 1880s, and after it was achieved, he began to nudge the British statesmen

132  Business of Europe of his acquaintance to prepare for the coming war against Germany: ‘War between England and Germany is a question of time,’ and ‘It has to come because England stands in Germany’s way everywhere and in everything,’99 Sir Francis Bertie heard Clemenceau tell the king in Marienbad: ‘One day we will have to resist Germany, we need Britain to arm, your navy alone is not enough’.100 It was the refrain of every conversation between King Edward and the French politician as they met at the king’s suite or in a restaurant, where the king’s usual companions were the Russian ambassador Count Aleksandr Benckendorff and Iswolsky. Both Russians considered the Marienbad meetings important for reassuring the king (and the foreign office) about Russia’s loyalty to the Anglo-Russian convention and encouraging Edward VII’s goodwill towards Russia. The issues they discussed were the Anglo-Russian cooperation in Persia and Germany’s sinister designs, a topic that was close to the king’s heart. In August 1908, King Edward was extremely irritated when he returned to Marienbad from his usual visit to Francis Joseph at Ischl. He went, buttressed by Hardinge to appeal to Francis Joseph to help Britain make a naval agreement with Germany.101 Despite the private character of the meeting, its content became known at once. The emperor’s mistress, Katharina Schratt, told the Russian military agent in Vienna that King Edward ‘asked the emperor to persuade William II to reduce Germany’s naval program.’ Francis Joseph answered that he on principle avoided interfering in others’ relations.102 According to a German source, after Edward VII left, the old emperor said: ‘There I have made an enemy for myself; but I could not do otherwise’.103 That year conversations around the lunch table between the king and his companions often circled the same questions: the bloc rivalry and the allies’ military needs. In early September, Admiral Fisher, one of the king’s favourite companions at the spa and an enthusiastic champion of the Anglo-Russian alliance, wrote from Carlsbad about the king’s lunches with the Russian premier Petr Stolypin and Iswolsky, where the Russian navy was mentioned. Stolypin asked Fisher: ‘What do you think we want most?’ Fisher said: ‘Your Western Frontier is denuded of troops and your magazines are depleted. Fill them up, and then talk of Fleets’ !104 The king’s usual companion, Goschen, reported soon after to Grey: ‘I talked to Clemenceau. He pleads us to prepare for war, so as to give them military assistance. He omitted all thought of Russia which would at least require a large containing force on her frontier’.105

The last visit The king’s desire to play a political role was fulfilled in a way that could not be called fortunate: his widely publicized remarks about Germany’s ruler led German journalists and public to blame him for Anglo-German tensions. In 1908, a German tycoon attempted to improve Anglo-German relations by personal contacts with the king’s favourite plutocrats. Back in Germany he told the German chancellor: ‘After His Majesty dies the former correct attitude will reign again in England.’ So, Bülow concluded optimistically, ‘We need to get through the next few years’.106

Royalty at spas  133 When the king was leaving Marienbad in 1909, Dr. Ott assured the journalists that the king was in perfect health and strength equal to that of a sound man ten years his junior. ‘He astonishes a medical man by his robust constitution and vigour’,107 wrote the admiring reporter. Eight months later the king was dead.

Royal courtships at spas It was understood that ‘[f]amily relations between princely families do not suffice to cement durable and effective international contacts, but they create a cordiality which also has its value – it makes it easier to defuse a conflict between two states.108 So, the marriage of a member of a ruling family was a matter of lively concern to politicians, and princes were brought up to view marriage as a business partnership. In 1816, the French heir, married by proxy to a princess whom he had never seen, wrote to her before she arrived in France: I am very much afraid of my thirty-eight years; I know that at seventeen I found those nearing forty very old. I do not flatter myself that I will inspire love, but [I hope for] that tender sentiment, which is stronger than friendship, the sweet trust which has to come from friendship.109 Tact was paramount in royal courtships because the main thing to avoid was an open rejection. Spas became an ideal neutral ground where the parties involved could pretend that they met by chance with no intentions beyond rest and cure. It was also expected that the spa’s carefree atmosphere might inject some romance in a meeting. Away from the court, princes and princesses were more at ease and, it was hoped, showed themselves to better advantage. During the Vienna Congress of 1814, the Austrian Emperor Francis and the Russian Emperor Alexander I discussed a political marriage between Alexander’s widowed sister, Grand Duchess Catherine, and an Austrian archduke. As the grand duchess was going to be in Carlsbad during the spa season of 1815, the young Austrian went there to woo her. The wife of the Russian foreign secretary, Mme. Nesselrode, observed Catherine’s behaviour with great indignation: ‘His arrival was so unpleasant to her that she fainted twice in one morning’, so Countess Nesselrode wrote drily, ‘I suppose, the plan failed’.110 The pretty and willful Catherine treated the suitor badly, while he was quite smitten with her. Mme. Nesselrode was a champion of the Austrian alliance and found the grand duchess’s rejection of the archduke selfish and unworthy of her rank. She was even more scandalized because Catherine openly favoured the Württemberg crown prince. Prince William was not only her cousin – a degree of consanguinity which by Russian canon law made their marriage impossible – but also married to a Bavarian princess. Their ‘disgusting romance’, as Countess Nesselrode qualified it, had begun in London during the celebrations of victory over Napoleon and blossomed when Catherine and William travelled together to Germany. William returned home to Stuttgart, sent his wife back to her father’s home and openly courted Catherine. This Mme. Nesselrode learned at Carlsbad

134  Business of Europe from the angry Bavarian minister to Vienna.111 Despite the opposition of the Romanov family, the crown prince got divorced and Catherine married him. When Grand Duchess Elena’s daughters reached marriageable age, Chancellor Nesselrode helped the grand duchess find potential fiancés and prepare ‘accidental’ meetings between her girls and the young men at spas.112 When Elena learned that the mother of an eligible prince was going to Marienbad for a cure, she decided to meet her there and ‘win her over for one of her daughters’.113 Nothing came of the interview, but later the same year the grand duke of Nassau proposed to her daughter Elisabeth in Baden-Baden,114 and soon a wedding was celebrated. A year later Elisabeth died. After the mourning was over, Grand Duchess Elena took her remaining two girls to Ischl. Its cold water sources became popular in the 1820s, and the Austrian court came every year to take bracing and tonic baths, accompanied by a cure de petit lait, a whey diet. The Greek-style portico of the Kurhaus carried an appropriate inscription, In sale et in sole omnia consistunt[All that matters is salt and sunshine]. There were many promenades and parks, and Ischl, which had only a few hundred inhabitants, came to receive up to 5,000 visitors in season. It was the meeting place for German aristocratic bachelors, including royalty. The grand duchess set her views high, but in 1846 she found little society there and complained to her friend: ‘We have yet to see a ghost of a … fiancé and I foresee that we will have to stoop to some German princeling and set him up in our palace’.115 Then her daughter Maria caught a persistent cold,54 and Viennese doctors diagnosed tuberculosis. In November of the same year the girl died. The mother steeled herself to take care of the remaining child who felt dejected and ill. Doctors prescribed spa treatments and a love marriage as the best remedies to bring the girl back to health.116 The Russian foreign ministry found a fiancé for her, the second son of a German duke. The negotiations between him and the Russian ambassador in Berlin were successful. Once again, a noncommittal first meeting was arranged at a resort: the young man went to the Baltic isle of Rugen117 where the mother and the daughter were taking sea baths, and the acquaintance ended in a marriage. The Austrian Empress Elisabeth retained a fond memory of Ischl because it had been the place of her triumph. In her early teens, she and her older sister were brought there to meet the Austrian imperial family as prospective brides for the young Emperor Francis Joseph II. He fell in love with the young Sissi and married her. Twenty years later, as her companion recalled, ‘we never walked in the place without her mentioning that extraordinary engagement dinner’.118 The Ischl courtship was a lightning one: He arrived on the 17th, saw the young person, there was a ball on the 18th, he danced the first waltz with the older sister, it was neutral and short; the second waltz with the princess that he chose and this dance went on for a long time. Later, during the cotillion … when the figure where the gentleman offers a bouquet to the lady with which he wishes to dance, the emperor got up and offered it to his partner, who blushed violently. … At some point

Royalty at spas  135 during the day … the emperor asked her if she would like to share with him the cares and risks of the throne; he would return the next day for her answer. He said at eight in the morning, but since seven o’clock His Majesty was already at the door of Princess Louise, her mother. He was invited in, she said yes, and at eleven all the imperial family went to the mass.119

A Riviera romance Royal courtships that began during a spa season usually continued in the hometown of the prospective fiancée. An exception in one case was dictated by the unusual situation: the bride’s mother lived on the Riviera. In 1879, the niece of Emperor Alexander II, Anastasia Mikhailovna, married the grand duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who suffered from tuberculosis, a weak heart and eczema, which kept him in seclusion for weeks. Anastasia was ‘a woman as good as she was good-looking, although somewhat used to never being contradicted’, her son-in-law wrote tactfully.120 Another contemporary was blunt: ‘She was completely indifferent to anything but her personal wishes and desires’.121 She could not stand Mecklenburg and was relieved that her husband’s health required him to spend winters in the Riviera. When her husband succeeded to his father on the throne, she negotiated an agreement with the duchy’s ministers whereby she and her husband would spend only five months of every year in Schwerin. The rest of the year the grand ducal couple spent on their villa in Cannes. After her husband died, Anastasia remained on the Riviera. She received her friends, gambled, threw parties and in general led a ‘fast’ life, although carefully preserving her daughters’ reputation by not letting them meet anyone but their Romanov relatives.122 Anastasia’s brothers and father also spent winters on the Riviera. Her oldest brother, Nikolai, was a dedicated gambler and came to the Riviera religiously.123 Anastasia was also a gambler; a lady-in-waiting remembered the grand duchess breezing into her old father’s room in the morning to kiss him goodbye on the way to looking up ‘Charlie’, that is, Monte-Carlo casino. Anastasia was notorious in Monte Carlo under the nickname of la Drague [Dragnet] because she attracted a crowd of young gamblers and croupiers. Until her last days, she remained a fixture at the casino where ‘she was recklessly throwing her last louis on the table – her semi-Oriental eyes glistening green as she watched them go. … What a typical Russian she looked – lean, dark and sinister, but exquisite in satin and jewels. She wore her black hair tightly coiffed to her narrow head which she still held proudly and her lips curled disdainfully’.124 Although the emperor her cousin considered her a black sheep, Anastasia did not forget her duties as a Russian grand duchess: in the late 1890s, she did a most energetic fundraising for building a Russian Orthodox Church in Cannes. In 1905, during the Russo-Japanese War, a few Russian men-of-war broke out of the besieged Port-Arthur when it surrendered to the Japanese and reached a neutral harbour. The warships were disarmed, according to international conventions,

136  Business of Europe and a neutral French ship brought the wounded to France. Anastasia set up a hospital for them at her Cannes villa. She did everything to win the goodwill of the Russian imperial couple, short of giving up on young men and gambling. At Cannes, the grand duchess’s elder daughter married the future king of Denmark. Her youngest daughter Cecilia’s coming-out ball also took place there: Cecilia met the Prussian Crown Prince Frederick William,125 the most eligible royal bachelor in Europe, at her Uncle Mikhail’s villa. The prince asked his father’s permission to court Cecilia. The girl’s German and Russian connections, prettiness and extreme youth made her a good choice for the future German empress. The courtship began on the Riviera and in Switzerland. The situation was complicated by the fact that after the Franco-Prussian War no members of the German imperial family were welcome in France and the crown prince might face an unpleasantness during his too frequent visits to the Riviera. A slight to him would cause a crisis in Franco-German relations. Cecilia’s mother refused to move to Mecklenburg to make the courtship easier. Rumours abounded, and the French foreign minister Théophile Delcassé reassured foreign ambassadors in Paris that he had never made Cecilia write to her fiancé from Cannes that they should not meet on the French territory. It was the opposite, he said; he even encouraged the idea.126 The opposition came from the German side. William II allowed his son to court Cecilia provided she did not spend another winter in Cannes with her mother. His wife reasonably told him that he could not forbid the girl to live in her mother’s house before the wedding. The solution was to get the couple wedded without delay, so the crown prince went to Cannes to ask for Cecilia’s hand. Anastasia, doing her utmost not to spoil her daughter’s brilliant marriage, self-obliterated. After the engagement, she begged to be excused from visiting the imperial family, knowing she was not welcome but allowed her daughter to stay in the imperial residence Potsdam alone.127 The grand duchess also accepted William II’s condition that she would not appear at the German court after the marriage took place. She remained on the Riviera at her villa Wenden, with her secretary-lover V. Paltov and their son who passed for her godson. During the First World War, the grand duchess renounced her German citizenship and declared that she was a Russian subject. She died on the Riviera and her body was returned to Germany. Her brother wrote: Well, Nastya is no more. I got Paltov’s telegram only on Saturday morning and left at 5 o’clock, and at the moment of my departure received a telephone message. … that Nastya departed this world. … For the first time I saw her villa. It is so pretty and cosy. The liturgy was on Wednesday in Cannes; the body was transported to Ludwigsburg and buried next to [her husband] Friedrich, because she said she wanted to rest there.128

Balkan brides at French resorts French spas provided the stage for other royal courtships. Prince Nicola of Montenegro needed to marry off his five daughters without being ruined by their

Royalty at spas  137 dowries and at the same time make the marriages useful to his principality. His country was in a difficult position: it was a small, mostly mountainous territory, it had few resources and it faced many enemies, placing him in the necessity to court all the powers on whom the Montenegrins’ survival depended. He could not afford to anger the Ottoman Empire, and he had to juggle Austria, Italy and Russia which competed for influence over the Balkans. The three states took an active interest in the prince’s principality of 276, 000 inhabitants because of its location between the Austrian Dalmatia and Turkish Albania. St. Petersburg never ceased to pay him a two million roubles annual subsidy to maintain Russia’s role in the Balkans. Nicola promised that in the event of a Russo-Turkish war he would put up a 50,000-man strong army,129 but Russia did not seriously count on that. Nicola tried to maintain good relations with Austria-Hungary and Russia and assigned to his two sons the roles of an ‘Austrophile’ and a ‘Russophile’, respectively, in dealing with the diplomats accredited in Cetinje. He set the diplomats against one another in order to hear them betray each other’s secrets. He also made tours of Vienna, Rome, Paris and Berlin both before and after his annual Carlsbad cure. Like all politicians who successfully play both sides of the field, Nicola had a shaky reputation. A Russian diplomat resentfully called him a born actor. He always wore the Montenegrin folk costume and a small Turkish fez. Although he spoke perfect French, having been educated in France, he preferred to speak it brokenly, inserting amusing, literally translated Serbian phrases to disarm his opponents by playing the role of a simple, hearty highlander. He was a jolly fellow in private, wrote Romantic poetry and the wife of another Russian diplomat posted in Montenegro liked the princely family. She thought that Nicola had sparkling merry humour and that his wife was ‘an ideal Oriental woman, simple and mild, with an inborn sense of dignity.’ The large family was united by a strong affection.130 His daughters had to be married away from home because otherwise they would give birth to native princes with ambitions that the tiny Montenegro could not house. On the other hand, they could serve as dynastic links with Nicola’s political partners. In 1882, his oldest daughter, Zorka, was packed off to Vichy with her silent acquiescent mother. The man whom Nicola chose as a prospective son-in-law was Petr Karageorgievich, an exiled Serbian prince, whose family had ruled Serbia off and on during the Middle Ages. Petr had a considerable party of supporters who hoped to overthrow the ruling Serbian prince, Milan Obrenovich. It was arranged that Petr would meet Zorka and her mother at the water fountain and that a mutual acquaintance would make an introduction. If the young people did not like each other, he would bow off and return to Paris. In a matter of weeks, the match was agreed upon. Zorka died before her husband became the king of Serbia in1904, but the marriage buttressed the Montenegrin dynasty, even if the relations between her father and her husband soon soured, as both were ambitious and – rightly – suspicious of each other. Montenegro’s sovereignty was recognized in 1878 after Russia defeated the Ottoman Empire, and in the 1880s as a symbolic gesture of friendship Nicola

138  Business of Europe sent his daughters Militsa, Anastasia and Elena to St. Petersburg to be educated at the exclusive girls’ school, the Smolny Institute. Tall, with dark tresses and large brown eyes under thick black eyebrows and the kind of strong-featured long faces that easily ran to heavy in middle age, but were admired in the late 1880s, the Montenegrin princesses (although the title was often pronounced with a smirk) were rather popular in St. Petersburg society. In 1889, Militsa married the tall, shy, weak-chested Grand Duke Peter, the Russian tsar’s second cousin, whom she expertly controlled for the rest of his life. Almost at the same time, Anastasia married the Duke Georgy of Leuchtenberg, a grandson of Emperor Nicholas I. Both couples spent winters on the Riviera. Elena failed to achieve her father’s dream – marrying the Russian heir Nicholas – but instead married the Italian crown prince. Next came the turn of Anna of Montenegro. In early 1897, she was sent to Nice to stay with her sisters Militsa and Anastasia. The youngest son of Prince Alexander of Hesse and his wife Countess von Battenberg, Francis Joseph came to meet her there. He was not a great party, a son of a morganatic marriage of a nonreigning Hesse prince, but he was pleasant-looking, affable and well connected: one of his brothers married Queen Victoria’s favourite granddaughter, Victoria of Hesse and another, Victoria’s daughter Beatrice. Similarly, Anna’s assets were her sisters’ connections to the Russian and Italian reigning families. Francis Joseph had already proposed to Consuelo Vanderbilt, the American heiress, but Miss Vanderbilt preferred the Duke of Marlborough. The young Battenberg, not wanting to waste time on another futile courtship, proposed to Anna at once and she accepted. The bride’s father arrived. As Queen Victoria was on the Riviera, he asked her to bless the proposed union,131 asserting his family’s new ties to the British royal family. In May, the young couple were married. Soon after, Nicola invited himself to Britain.

The Spanish marriage In Biarritz the French security chief X. Paoli witnessed the lightning courtship and engagement of the 19-year-old Spanish King Alfonso XIII and the British Princess Ena Battenberg. The Spanish king showed early signs of rakishness, and so the cabinet wisely decided he should marry and produce heirs to the throne of his unstable kingdom before he had wasted his health. The king was sent to London to view a prospective bride and chose Ena Battenberg, King Edward’s niece. With the king’s and his government’s blessing, Ena and her mother Princess Beatrice arrived at Biarritz in January 1906. The wooing was brief and intensive. Every morning at 10 am King Alfonso, accompanied by his suite, arrived in his automobile and stayed till 10.30 pm. Whether or not he drove, the king was always dressed as an automobilist: in a cloak, a visored cap and goggles, a costume that proclaimed his attachment to the latest fashion. After an exchange of greetings with the hostess and Ena’s mother, he took Ena into the garden for a walk and a talk; when it rained, they talked in the drawing room, at a distance from others, but not alone. Sometimes he took Ena and her lady-in-waiting for a drive in the

Royalty at spas  139 country.132 Soon Alfonso took Princess Beatrice and Ena to visit his mother on the other side of the Franco-Spanish border. Twenty-four hours later the queenmother returned the visit, and as she was leaving, she told Ena, ‘See you soon at Madrid’.133

Notes 1 The Times, 5.8.1863, 10. 2 S. Korff, The Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire in the Last Half Century (New York: Macmillan, 1922), 206. 3 Marie Galitzine,‘Memoirs’ [typescript], Bakhmetev Archive, Belosselsky Papers, Box 14:113. 4 Arsène Houssaye, Les Confessions: souvenirs d’un demi-siècle, 1830–1880 (Paris: E. Dentu, 1888), 4:133. 5 Tsesarevich Nicholas to Grand Duchess Xenia, 12.11.1892, GARF, 662–1–186, ll.74–5 ob. 6 P.D. Kiselev to E.F. von Rahden, 8.6.1868, GARF, 698–1–111, ll.2–3 ob. 7 G.D. Elena to A.M. Gorchakov, [n.d.] GARF, 647–1–651, ll.6–7 ob. 8 Copy of a letter from E.F. von Rahden to A. Budberg sent to the foreign minister, 29.6.1867, GARF, 647–1–651, ll.30–31 ob. 9 G.D. Nikolai Mikhailovich to Nicholas II, 3.3.1899, Rossiiskii arkhiv (Moscow: TRITE, 1999), 9:342–344. 10 Histoire generale de l’assurance en France et en etranger (Paris: Georges Hamon, 1895–1896), 589. 11 Xavier Paoli, Majesties as I Knew Them (New York: Sturgis & Walton, 1911), XIV. 12 Paoli, XIII. 13 G.D. Elena to Count P.D. Kiselev, August 1861, IRLI RAN, 143–2–357, ll.73–73 ob. 14 Ekaterina Ozerova to Princess A. A. Obolenskaya, 9.4/27.3. 1903, GIM 25–2–366, ll.99–100. 15 [Fedor F. Tornau], “Velikaia kniaginia Elena Pavlovna”, Russkii arkhiv, (1881), 5:300–304. 16 E.F. von Rahden to Princess Cherkasskaia, 27.8/8.9.1860, OR RGB, 327/III–9–43, ll.31–32. 17 Memor, ‘Entretiens Retrospectifs’, Revue de France (1871), 7:282–283. 18 [Fedor F. Tornau], 300–304. 19 Prince Pavel Scherbatov to Princess Scherbatova [n.d.], OR RGB 347–5–1, ll.578–9 ob. 20 Mme. Carette, Souvenirs intimes de la cour de Tuilleries (Paris: Ollendorf, 1889–1891), 3:4–6. 21 M. Mouchanoff-Kalergis to her daughter, 12.10.1864, 140–142. 22 M. Mouchanoff-Kalergis to her daughter, 12.10.1864, 140–142. 23 Mme. Carette, 3:206. 24 ‘Notes on Health Resorts. Schwalbach, Nassau’, The British Medical Journal 28, No. 5, 1904, vol. 1, No. 2265:123–124. 25 Mme. Carette, 3:222. 26 Daily News, 12.9.1864. 27 Mme. Carette, 3:216. 28 Mme. Carette, 213. 29 Daily News, 12.9.1864. 30 Mme. Carette, 3:241–243. 31 Mme. Carette, 3:252. 32 Memoir of Princess Victoria Mountbatten (manuscript), Mountbatten Papers, Southampton University, 166. 33 Memoir of Princess Victoria Mountbatten, 164.

140  Business of Europe Belfast News-Letter, 1.4.1885. Standard, 3.4.1885, p. 5. Hampshire Telegraph and Succex Chronicle, 11.5.1885. Lord Granville to the Queen, 25.4.1885, RA VIC/MAIN/N/42/79. Queen Victoria to Grand Duke Sergey (copy), 27.4.1885, RA VIC/MAIN/H/45/40. Boris Grigoriev, Povsednevnaia zhizn rossiiskikh diplomatov v 19 veke (Moscow: Zentrpoligraf, 2013), 5. 40 Marc Boyer, L’invention de la Côte d’Azur. (Paris: Editions de l’Aube, 2002), 165. 41 Boyer, 199. 42 Boyer, 165–166. 43 Boyer, 165. 44 Boyer, 165–166. 45 Martin Kohlrausch,’The Workings of Royal Celebrity’, Edward Berenson & Eva Giloy, ‘Constructing Charisma. Celebrity, Fame and Power in Nineteenth-Century Europe (New York: Berghahn Books, 2013), 52. 46 Eric Mension-Rigau, 19.2.1905, 339–340. 47 Marie Colombier, Memoires. Fin d’Empire (Paris: E. Flammarion, 1898–1900), 165. 48 K. Nesselrode to P. Meyendorff, 31.3.1852, LPN, 10:187–9. 49 Frederic Lolliée, Les Femmes du 2nde empire (Paris: Editions Jules Tallandier, 1927), 1:84. 50 Mattachich, 24–26. 51 Harry Kessler, Les Souvenirs d’un Européen (Paris: Gallimard, 1946), 38–39. 52 Kessler, 47. 53 Kessler, 41–42. 54 A. Saurel, Juillet 1870. Le drame de la Dêpeche d’Ems (Paris: Payot, 1930), 52. 55 Münz, 46–47. 56 Alan Johnstone to Lord Lansdowne, 31.5.1901, FO 800/128, 127–129. 57 Waleffe, 282. 58 Waleffe, 282. 59 ‘Hunting at Biarritz’, The Observer, 21.1.1906, 6. 60 Grand Duchess Marie of Cobourg to Grand Duke Sergey, 10/22 4 1897, OR RGB, 253/1–20–6, ll.25–7. 61 Philip Magnus, King Edward the Seventh (London: John Murray, 1964), 258. 62 Mension-Rigau, 1.11.1904, 289. 63 Jane Ridley, Bertie (London: Chatto & Windus, 2012), 417. 64 ‘Preparing for the King’s Visit’, The Observer, 27.2.1910, 13. 65 Ridley, 417. 66 Waddington to Spuller, 13.8.1889, DDF, Serie 1, 7:481–2. 67 ‘Holidays at Homburg’, 15.8.1900, Daily News. 68 Baron von Eckardstein, Ten Years at the Court of St. James. 1895–1905 (London: T. Butterworth, 1921), 48. 69 Eckardstein, 53–54. 70 Eckardstein, 53–54. 71 Cecil Lamar, ‘History as Family Chronicle: Kaiser Wilhelm II and the Dynastic Roots of the Anglo-German Antagonism’, Kaiser Wilhelm II. New Interpretations. The Corfu Papers (ed. John C.G. Rohl and Nicolaus Sombart) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 103. 72 Gil Blas, 12.7.1901, 1. 73 Mension-Rigau, 192–193. 74 John A. Spender, The Life of the Right Hon. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, G.C.B (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1923)1:46–47. 75 Campbell-Bannerman to G. Gladstone, 27.8.1899, John A. Spender, 1:239. 76 Cited in Gordon Brook-Shepherd, Uncle of Europe (London: Collins, 1975), 214.

34 35 36 37 38 39

Royalty at spas  141 77 Campbell-Bannerman to Bryce, 22.08.1904, John A. Spender, 2:154–155. 78 ‘The Prince of Wales at Marienbad’, 13.8.1899, Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper. 79 Sidney Whitman, Things I Remember: The Recollections of a Political Writer in the Capitals of Europe (London: Cassel and Company, 1916), 62. 80 La Revue diplomatique, 17.9.1905, 16. 81 Lansdowne to Goschen, 5.9.1905, FO 800/136, 202. 82 Brook-Shepherd, 218. 83 ‘The Prince of Wales at Marienbad’, 23.8.1899, The Belfast News-Letter. 84 Waleffe, 225. 85 Brook-Shepherd, 220. 86 Brook-Shepherd, 222. 87 Brook-Shepherd, 220. 88 S. Münz, Prince Bülow, 46–47. 89 Lady Ripon to A.A. Savinsky, 21.7.1909, AVPRI, 340–706–32, ll.171–6 ob. 90 Anita Leslie, Edwardians in Love (London: Hutchinson, 1972), 298–301. 91 Vlas Doroshevich, Teatralnaya kritika Vlasa Doroshevicha (Minsk: Harvest, 2004), 462–464. 92 Müntz, 221–224. 93 Cited in Hugo Hantsch, Leopold Graf Berchtold Grandseigneur und Staatsmann (Graz: Verlag Styria, 1963), 2:119. 94 Magnus, 395–396. 95 Müntz, 224. 96 Cited in Paul Guiral, Clemenceau en son temps (Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1994), 125. 97 David S. Newhall, Clemenceau: A life at War (Lewiston: Edwin-Mellon Press, 1991), 184. 98 Guiral, 125. 99 Louis Mallet, Memorandum, 13.07.1905, FO 800/145, 259–261. 100 Sir Francis Bertie to Sir Edward Grey, 11.04.1907, FO 800/174, 74–75. 101 Count Metternich to Count Bülow, 13.08.1908, E.T.S. Dugdale (ed. & trans.), German Diplomatic Documents, 1871–1914 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1929), 2:295. 102 Col. Marchenko to N.V. Dubasov, 1908 (typewritten copy), AVPRI, 151–482–3108, l.95. 103 Maximilian Harden, Monarchs and Men (London: Eveleigh Nash, 1912), 183. 104 Admiral Fisher to Arnold White, 8.09.1908, Fear God and Dread Nought. The Correspondence of Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fisher of Kilverstone (London: Jonathan Cape, 1952–1959), 2:193–195. 105 Sir E. Goschen to Sir E. Grey, 29.08.1908, FO 800/40 (186), 134–138. 106 Bülow to William II, 15.7.1908, German Diplomatic Documents, 1871–1914, 2:282–283. 107 Marlborough Express, v. XLIII, No. 213, 6.9.1909, p. 5. 108 Anton Georgiev Drandar, Cinq ans de règne (Paris: E. Dentu, 1884), 3. 109 Cited in Marie de Rohan-Chabot, Les Errants de la Gloire (Paris: Flammarion, 1933), 98. 110 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 19.8.1814, LPN, 5:196–198. 111 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 19.8.1814, LPN, 5:196–198. 112 Meyendorff to Nesselrode, 2/14 December 1842, in Peter von Meyendorff, Ein Russischer Diplomat an den Höffen von Berlin und Wien. Politischer un Privater Briefwechsel 1826- 1863 (Berlin and Leipzig, 1923), 1:243–244. 113 Meyendorff to Nesselrode, 14/26 May 1843, Peter von Meyendorff, 1:257–259. 114 M.S. Vorontsov to P.D. Kiselev, 10 October 1843, AKV, 38:99–104. 115 G.D. Elena to P.D. Kiselev, 6/18.7.1846, IRLI RAN, 143–2–357, ll.3–11 ob. 116 Elena Pavlovna to P.D. Kiselev, 26 May [1847], IRLI RAN, 143–2–357, 29–32 ob. 117 P.K. Meyendorff to Elena Pavlovna, 1/13 February 1849, Peter von Meyendorff, 2:156–158.

142  Business of Europe 118 Marie Larisch, Les secrets d’une maison royale (Bruxelles: Le Cri édition, 2000 [1936]), 102–103. 119 D. Ficquelmont to E. Tiesenhausen, 25.8.1853, Comte de Sonis, Lettres du comte et de la comtesse de Ficquelmont a la Comtesse Tiesenhausen (Paris: Librairie Plon, 1911), 428–429. 120 Guillermo de Hohenzollern, Mis Memorias (Madrid: Editorial V.H. Sanz Calleja, 1922), 46. 121 Balsan, 62. 122 Catherine Radziwill, The Disillusions of a Crown Princess (London: John Lane, 1918). 123 A Romanov Diary, The Autobiography of H.I. and R.H. Grand Duchess George (New York: Atlantic International Publications, 1988), 112. 124 Balsan, 64. 125 Radziwill, 47. 126 Tornielli to Tittoni, 23.6.1905, I documenti diplomatici italiani: terza serie, 1896–1907 (Rome: Instituto Poligrafico, MMVII), 8:151–155. 127 Radziwill, 100. 128 Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich to G.D. Xenia, 18.3.1922, Hoover Institution, Papers of G.Duchess Kseniia Aleksandrovna, 80011, 1:3. 129 Yu. Ya. Soloviov, Vospominaniia diplomata 1893–1922 (Minsk: Harvest, 2003 [1933]), 138–139. 130 Vera Nekliudova, [n.d.] GARF, 990–2–763, ll.2–4 ob. 131 Marco Houston, Nicola and Milena: King and Queen of the Black Mountain (London: Leppi Publications, 2003), 226. 132 Paoli, 56–60. 133 Paoli, 60–61.

6 Era of congresses

The new Europe is not yet born and between the end and the beginning, there will be chaos. —Prince von Metternich, 1830

Towards the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the Russian emperor Alexander I crossed the European continent with his army and saw the devastation caused by 20 years of warring. Deeply shaken, he conceived a plan for a peaceful Europe, ‘to give every nation full and entire enjoyment of its rights and institutions; place them all and place ourselves under the guarantee of a general alliance; guarantee ourselves and protect them from the ambitions of the conquerors’.1 The Austrian chancellor Klemens von Metternich partly put the idea into practice by persuading the allied powers to accept a shared responsibility for the European peace. By committing themselves to maintain the Vienna-negotiated status quo, they would prevent wars of conquest in Europe. All changes had to be sanctioned by a conference of the powers. For 32 years the Vienna order kept European powers from fighting each other.

The Holy Alliance Alexander’s references to ‘ties of true and indissoluble brotherhood’ uniting the allies and his insistence that all peoples were subjects of one ‘Christian nation’2 were taken sceptically. The British foreign secretary Lord Castlereagh dismissed them by saying, ‘The mind of the Emperor [Alexander] is not completely sound’.3 Though attentive to continental affairs, Castlereagh did not intend Britain to get embroiled in them for the sake of abstract principles, such as justice or charity. Metternich referred scathingly to Alexander’s ‘false philanthropic dreams’.4 Alexander’s own aide referred to the idea as ‘sentimental politics based on opinions voiced in ladies’ boudoirs.’5 Still, no one dared deny that the principles of justice, peace and charity were applicable in politics, so the allies accepted the idea, hoping to exploit it to their advantage. Alexander was prepared to show moderation and flexibility in dealing with his allies. Other powers, though suspicious of Russia, did not want a break, for manipulating an ally was less onerous than fighting an enemy. Thus, in 1815 two concepts of the conduct of international relations were embodied in two

144  Business of Europe treaties. The Quadruple Alliance of the victorious powers was directed against France, to prevent the return to power of any members of the Bonaparte family or the triumph of the ‘Revolutionary Principles’. The Holy Alliance, which France joined, was open to all Christian monarchs and guaranteed the legitimate rulers and their territories.6 The British did not formally join it but committed themselves to subsidize the campaigns that its members might need to fight.7 Compromise that lies at the base of an alliance called for coordination in matters of common interest. Prior to the Napoleonic era, interstate relations had been routinely maintained through bilateral contacts. In 1814 at Chaumont, Lord ­Castlereagh, suggested that Napoleon’s victors would commit themselves to cooperate ‘in concert’ for 20 years and regularly consult on matters of common concern. First, the Quadruple Alliance of Russia, Austria, Prussia and Britain, and after its demise in 1823 the same powers minus Britain met periodically to manage the international system they created. Difficulties of travelling (nine days and nights from Berlin to St. Petersburg8), delays of postal services and the frequent use of ‘occasions’ for sending official despatches are constantly mentioned in diplomats’ letters. The correspondence

Figure 6.1  François Pascal Simon Gérard. Alexander I. 1814. Oil on canvas. Wikimedia Commons.

Era of congresses  145 between the chancelleries ran to volumes. It was much easier to meet and talk affairs over. After the experience of an almost unwieldy Vienna Congress, the allies preferred to meet away from capital cities. In this way they saved time, skipped a few demands of protocol and etiquette, kept the diplomats of nonmember states from intruding into their agendas and stayed close to each other. Daily confidential exchanges were opportunities for persuasion. Every congress created so many expectations and opposition that the allied diplomats and sovereigns favoured unofficial meetings – sometimes in spa towns, conveniently situated and with available lodging. In this way, they combined care of their health with some undisturbed work.

The authors of the congress system Personal interactions were effective because the people in charge of European foreign policy knew each other. Alexander I had unusually close relations with the allied ambassadors and ministers who had accompanied him in the campaigns of 1812–1815. The French ambassador in St. Petersburg noted in 1817 that ‘the intimacy between Alexander I and the diplomats whom he has known since 1812 is a kind of brotherhood’.9 For two decades, the slow-spoken, ponderous Lord Castlereagh had tenaciously pursued his aim to destroy Napoleon’s hold over Europe and in the process to expand Britain’s possessions. He was respected for his consistency and achievement, but he was unpopular even in his own party. The Whig press ridiculed his occasional bursts of arrogance: ‘liberty is an usage of England, but it is not suitable to other countries’.10 In Britain Castlereagh was notorious for the brutal suppression of social unrest. His total lack of humour and charm was partly mitigated by his friend, the Duke of Wellington, the most popular man on the continent and also a Tory. The Austrian chancellor Klemens von Metternich’s program was to give Austrian subjects and, if possible, all other Europeans, ‘a freedom under close surveillance, active policing and a friendly toleration, the most extended credits and the easiest tax’.11 To achieve this, he constructed a system of European alliances, at times aimed against Russia but usually against France, which he believed to be the main threat to European peace.12 A Russian friend described him: His face framed in blond hair, was very pale and women found his dreamy expression romantic; men thought him wily. … His manners were dignified and befitted his high rank; his imperturbable reserve indicated that diplomacy was his calling. But certain conceit which surfaced after his first love affairs spoiled the initial good impression.13 Albert Sorel wrote that Metternich’s graceful manners, his exquisite speech and fine knowledge of conventions made him an incomparable master of the great society comedy and an unsurpassed practitioner of diplomacy.14 Sorel considered Metternich shallow, but his political doctrine triumphed over the nebulous dreams

146  Business of Europe and self-serving pragmatism of his allies: they agreed to act in concert against political excesses. Metternich deftly put the Holy Alliance at the service of European peace and at the same time of Austria’s imperial interests. He ‘kept Russia distracted from all thought of expansion by dangling the threat of a revolution in front of her’;15 he kept Prussia engaged in subduing all attempts at reforms in Germany, while Austria maintained its dominant position in Germany and ruled over Italy. Metternich’s secretary since 1809 was a famous publicist, Friedrich von Gentz, a man much respected for his staunch conservative thinking. The Russian and British courts, knowing his financial difficulties, sent him gifts of money and expected his support, but instead he swayed their representatives in favour of Metternich’s ideas.16 The elderly Prussian first minister, Prince von Hardenberg, was under Metternich’s sway. A manipulator is bound to look down on the manipulated, so Metternich’s opinion of Alexander I was low: the emperor, as Metternich wrote, was a man of his word, he readily acted on his convictions, but these, Metternich said contemptuously, changed every five years.17 During the Napoleonic Wars, Alexander and Metternich had become close, but in 1815 Alexander’s earlier trust and friendliness were replaced by barely disguised coldness.18 He learned from Napoleon I that during the Vienna Congress Castlereagh, Metternich and the French delegate, Prince de Talleyrand, formed a secret coalition against Russia and Prussia. Alexander, determined to preserve the coalition, showed Metternich a copy of the secret treaty and told him: ‘Metternich, as long as we live, this should never

Figure 6.2  U  nknown artist. Prince Klemens von Metternich (c.1835–1840). Oil on ­canvas. Wikimedia Commons.

Era of congresses  147 be mentioned again’, and threw the paper into the fireplace.19 But his trust was gone. Following the end of the war, Alexander I had two secretaries for foreign affairs. Count Karl Nesselrode began his service in Berlin in 1801, where he made friends with Metternich. If Metternich was famous for his amorous conquests, Nesselrode was best known for his dinners. He spent happy hours discussing with his chef the details of the menu for a meal and immortalized his name as the creator of the Pommes à la Nesselrode. Meticulous attention to the steps in transforming apple butter into a soufflé reflected the host’s concern about the pleasure of his guests. Nesselrode and his subordinates gave the same attention to the formulation and presentation of official documents and confidential correspondence: always in a precise and elegant French, flavoured by mild irony, the dispatches were meant to make reading a pleasure. Nesselrode had sound opinions, but he only aired them in private letters to his friends, too cowardly to contradict the emperor, no matter how mistaken the emperor was. In Russia Nesselrode came to be associated with indiscriminate sacrifice of Russian interests to the Holy Alliance (i.e., Metternich’s agenda), a system that eventually led to Russia’s isolation and the disastrous Crimean War. Nesselrode looked after the relations with Western powers. In 1815, Alexander appointed a Greek exile, Count Ioannis Capo d’Istria, a second secretary of state for foreign affairs in charge of relations with the Ottoman Empire and Bessarabia – which at the time meant, the Middle and Near East. A subordinate

Figure 6.3  Petr Fedorovich Sokolov, Count Karl Vasilievich Nesselrode (c.1815–1820). Watercolour. Wikimedia Commons.

148  Business of Europe wrote about Capo d’Istria: ‘Never again have I come across such a noble mind and generous character.’ A man of ideals, out of his salary of 90,000 francs Capo d’Istria spent on himself only 10,000 and donated the rest to the cause of Greek liberation from the Ottoman Empire. A Russian diplomat wrote: ‘[F]or six years our foreign ministry resembled the imperial two-headed eagle, or – more precisely, a two-faced Janus; one face … was sycophantically turned towards Prince Metternich … the other … was turned towards the Christian Orient, the Switzerland beloved of Alexander I and partly towards Britain and Prussia’.20 Two French royalist exiles in Russian service figured prominently in postwar international relations, Alexander’s ambassador to France, Count Pozzo di Borgo, and the Duke de Richelieu. On Pozzo’s advice, in 1814 Alexander insisted on the restoration of the Bourbons in France and proposed the Duke de Richelieu for the king’s prime minister. The two worked to ensure that France complied with the treaties and the constitutional charter that Louis XVIII granted his subjects on Alexander’s recommendation. These unlikely bedfellows were forced into the same narrow bed by the shared fear of revolution and desire for a stable peace. As the authors of the new order in Europe, they all had a stake in its maintenance. Metternich’s assistant wrote to the Russian secretary for foreign affairs: ‘Between men like us, the preliminaries of all explanations or political discussions were set and signed long ago, and to reach an understanding we do not need to go back to the creation of the world’.21

Need for consultation In 1817, several issues emerged. The Spanish king appealed to the powers for help in suppressing the independence movement in his American colonies.22 He correctly pointed out that the movement was frequently led by Spanish American Masons – one of the secret societies that since the 18th century had been associated with revolutions. The French government wanted to reduce the period of occupation by the coalition army to three years instead of five. Louis XVIII addressed a plea to Alexander I: ‘a longer occupation will bankrupt the kingdom and humiliate the nation to an intolerable degree’.23 The idea of cutting the period of occupation appealed to the Russian government, which did not want to weaken France further. Other allies were opposed. Metternich suggested a congress of sovereigns 24 to agree on these issues. Nesselrode thought that ‘no capital or even [royal] residence was convenient or useful for the affairs to treat’. He suggested a choice of Swiss Basel, German Mannheim and Aix-la-Chapelle/Aachen, a spa town that had been under French domination and had recently been returned to Prussia.25 The powers wished to separate the congress from the ongoing negotiations in London, Frankfurt and Paris, but at the same time, they believed that it would help them better understand the internal condition of France if they assembled next to the French border, in Aix-la-Chapelle.26 Its assets were a convenient location close to the French border and familiarity: after the French Revolution Aix-la-Chapelle hosted thousands of

Era of congresses  149 French aristocratic exiles, and all European diplomats passed through it on the way from and to their posts.27 For the French the town had historic symbolism: in 1668 and 1748 France signed two peace treaties there.

Metternich at spas After the Vienna Congress, Gentz confided to Nesselrode: ‘The Emperor [Francis] and Metternich are in a state of inebriation. Flattery and admiration, true or false … has turned their heads’.28 The Austrian chancellor believed himself the guiding light of humanity. In 1817, after consultations with the allied diplomats at the Italian spa Lucca29 he wrote to his wife that he ‘repaired many faults and follies and prevented new ones from being committed in the future’, and concluded: ‘I am more and more convinced that one only does well what one does oneself, and that one ought to be everywhere to do well’.30 Being everywhere was impossible, so eventually he settled for meeting his collaborators and allies at spas, which he visited annually, accompanied by his personal physician: Carslbad, Baden and Ischl.31 The chancellor’s estate Königswart was in the Töplitz-Carlsbad area, so in September 1817 from Lucca he went to Töplitz’s radioactive springs to treat his painful lumbago. His stay, like the one in Lucca, was delightfully busy: ‘From six to eight I rush about with seven or eight hundred people like so many fools. We meet at nine for breakfast and this is very pleasant, the tables are laid before the different houses and those who like join together’.32 He took daily walks in the afternoon and dined either at home or with his friends. At eight he went to the Kurhaus at the end of a pretty tree-lined street Alte-Wiese, where people strolled, boutiques sold their wares and music played. When he felt like a quiet evening, he held a whist party at home instead.33 At 10.30 pm he went to bed.34 Society at Carlsbad was varied: there were ‘coquettes, hoping that the sources would bring back their faded freshness, professional gamblers, married women who out of love of virtue put a large distance between themselves and their homeland and came to seek distraction from marital fidelity’. In the vicinity of the water fountain, European statesmen in disgrace, ‘deprived of their posts and of their power’, formed a melancholy group.35 There were also diplomats and aristocracy from most European countries, but by September 1817 the ones who waited for Metternich had lost their patience and left.

Carlsbad sounding In July 1817, Duke de Richelieu learned that Metternich and Hardenberg were going to meet in Carlsbad in August and knew that they would discuss France’s debt to the allied powers. It was an opportunity for France to negotiate simultaneously with the two most difficult creditors: Austria and Prussia insisted that France should pay them in full, respectively, 200 million and 150 million francs.36 Capo d’Istria was in Carlsbad all summer to repair his health and to take care of the

150  Business of Europe ‘delicate part of diplomacy’, the informal one.37 He would support the French in the negotiations.38 The French ambassador to Vienna, Marquis de Caraman, cut short his vacation in France and left for Vienna. His unadvertised plan was to stop at Carlsbad,39 open negotiations and persuade Metternich and Hardenberg to reduce the payments stipulated four years before.40 Richelieu provided him with arguments: France was paying indemnities for the devastation that Napoleon’s army brought on European countries. But during Napoleon’s reign many fortresses, highways, bridges and monuments were built across Europe, and now other nations were benefiting from them. It needed to be factored in when calculating France’s debt.41 Arriving at Carlsbad, Caraman was disappointed: Metternich remained in Italy longer than anticipated, while the elderly Hardenberg sent him word that he was very ill and not up to discussing business. Before Hardenberg’s assistant Jordan left for Berlin, Caraman persuaded him that if France were allowed to settle the debt separately with each of the allies, Prussia would be able to present her claims to France without coordinating with others. When Caraman finally met Hardenberg, the minister was more deaf than usual, and no confidential conversation was possible because they were surrounded by people.42 It seemed that Hardenberg in principle agreed to France’s proposal, but a brief verbal exchange was not the same as a commitment. So, after consulting Capo d’Istria, Caraman sent a letter to the Prussian minister, hoping for a written answer. The ambassador made a point of being at every social gathering of diplomats and telling everyone that France could not pay her creditors more than 200 million francs. If forced to ask for a new loan to pay the debts, Richelieu’s government would resign and the country would face civil war and other disasters. Despite Capo d’Istria’s inducements Hardenberg avoided the French ambassador because he would not commit himself before consulting Metternich. On 20 August, to Caraman’s joy the British chargé d’affaires in Vienna, Sir Robert Gordon, arrived at Carlsbad with Lord Castlereagh’s instructions43 to persuade the allied ministers to revise the convention in separate negotiations. He, too, tried to talk to Hardenberg, but the Prussian refused to see him, claiming he had a violent cough and could not attend to affairs.44 The next day Hardenberg moved from Carlsbad to a nearby spa, Eger, sending apologies to Gordon and promising to answer to Caraman’s memorandum when he recovered. Capo d’Istria consoled Caraman that if Russia and Britain were almost in agreement, they would prevail over the others.45 Caraman and Gordon followed Hardenberg to Eger, where they once again attempted to see him, under the thin pretext that they were concerned about his state of health. But he refused to receive them,46 and on 25 August Caraman left. His original plan failed, but he could inform Richelieu that Russia, Britain and France agreed about the need to revise the debt terms47 and that according to Capo d’Istria Hardenberg agreed that the allied ambassadors in Paris should discuss the debt with Richelieu.48 The issue was successfully transferred from

Era of congresses  151 bankers to diplomats. In late 1817, the permanent conference of ambassadors in Paris resolved to reduce French reparations to 200 million.49

Before the congress Gentz wrote that the concerns of the cabinets prior to Aix-la-Chapelle and the reasons for their concerns were ‘perhaps the most interesting part of the secret history of these events’. Alexander I’s prestige in Europe, based on his power, his army and ‘his universally recognized personal superiority’,50 had concerned the allies for years. Everyone spoke much about the horrors of the French Revolution, but only Alexander openly said that to prevent a repetition the governments of Europe should take into account the social and political changes in their countries and not try to turn the clock back to 1789.51 Metternich and Gentz were concerned that the emperor ‘undertook to protect openly this century’s tendency towards constitutional and liberal ideas’52; that at Aix-la-Chapelle he would oppose all restrictions and precautions that they wanted to impose on France. At the same time, if they openly opposed him, he might abandon the Quadruple Alliance and establish an alliance with France. The ‘august Allies’ wanted to continue military occupation or at least to occupy a chain of French fortresses53 in order to maintain control over the French territory. The three cabinets wanted Alexander I to be the one to make this announcement, which the French were sure to hate. Six weeks before the congress, Alexander proposed to the allies to evacuate the troops and station them in Germany, so that they could march to France at the first sign of danger. The suggestion was meant to make the allies more amenable to the evacuation of troops for having a Russian army stationed on their territory and being responsible for its upkeep was not a pleasing prospect.54 Metternich spent two summer months before the congress in Eger and Carlsbad and held daily meetings with Austrian and foreign statesmen.55 He wrote: ‘Carlsbad is very full of strangers, among whom are diplomatists from all countries, who are here, some only to confer with me, some to observe my meeting with Count Capo d’Istria.56 His doctor forbade him to take waters after 20 July, for ‘too much would be luxury’, but he stayed on to hear the famous singer Angelica Catalani, who came to Carlsbad and sang at Metternich’s house for his guests.57 Gentz was another great believer in spa cures, but his chief never let him fully enjoy one, loading him with work either by mail or in person. Gentz alternated his cure with meetings with girls in the alley of the Kurhaus and daily discussions with the new arrivals in Carlsbad: Capo d’ Istria and Lord Stewart,58 the British ambassador to Vienna and Castlereagh’s half-brother. Gentz had a hectic schedule: ‘At 9 to Franzensbrunn [a source], then to Metternich. Lord Stewart from London, at the table a long confidential conversation with Stewart – in the evening Catalani sings at Metternich’s. At 11 pm wrote a memorandum for Stewart which a courier will take to England. To bed at 2 am’.59 Gentz and Metternich tapped Capo d’Istria, who best knew Alexander’s views and thoughts. Capo d’Istria wanted the French and Spanish kings,60 as well as the

152  Business of Europe sovereigns of small states, to attend the Aix-la-Chapelle congress, in order to ‘return to the ancient and true principles of independence of nations’.61 He argued that it will put the Spanish sovereign in contact with the other great potentates of Europe, who are separated from him more by his ideas and upbringing than by geography. …If he goes on the way he does, in a few years he will lose all his overseas possessions, and then these debris set loose, will become the object of discord and rivalry of European powers. …Other sovereigns might persuade him that his own life and his nation’s happiness depend on this.62 Metternich and Castlereagh objected. The Austrian suspected that Russia might form a close relation with the Bourbons of France, Spain and Italy. In this case Austria, Prussia and Britain would also come together, the small states would join either the first or the second bloc and Europe would be split. To avert this scenario, Metternich persuaded the ambassadors in Paris to agree that the only question officially to be discussed at Aix would be the evacuation of the French territory,63 so only the representatives of the four allies and France would come. As Metternich wrote, ‘the measures which have been taken to prevent a crowd of diplomatists from arriving leave us very much at liberty’.64 Britain supported Austria65 because Castlereagh wanted to monopolize the right to decide the fate of Spanish colonies. Austria hoped to achieve the same with Italian and German affairs, isolating all European states from Russia.66 Metternich’s meeting with Capo d’Istria at Carlsbad rendered the following satisfactory information: Alexander I still supported the principle of maintenance of peace and would not side with France;67 the emperor’s religious mood deepened, and he was more and more given to moral and political proselytizing, which would make the congress a triumph for Austria. Metternich wrote: ‘I have gained so much ground in the English and Prussian Cabinets, that in the conferences I foresee no possible digression from the course appointed.’ Alexander I, who was so concerned about listening to the ‘so-called spirit of the times’ and to all kinds of ‘innovators and sectaries’, would be defeated ‘even in the eyes of these innovators themselves’.68 The stay in Carlsbad was trying for Capo d’Istria, who saw himself surrounded by ‘foreign agents attempting to learn Alexander’s opinions about the congress issues. ‘Some set traps in order to make me express radical opinions; still others, invoking what they believed to be my dominant passion (Greek liberation), attempted to influence me so that I would compromise my duties.’ Because of the ‘insidious pestering’, the stay at the spa failed to repair his health, and Capo d’Istria left for Aix-la-Chapelle quite ill.69

The Congress Metternich was coming to Aix ‘without fear or uncertainty’, accompanied by foreign diplomats;70 every town on his route from Carlsbad welcomed him. At Cologne his reception was a triumph because he was taken for the emperor.71 He

Era of congresses  153 wrote to his wife: ‘I came to Frankfurt like a Messiah. … I have become a species of moral power in Germany and perhaps even in Europe’.72 The attendance and the agenda corresponded to his wishes, and Aix-la-Chapelle promised to be ‘a pretty little congress’.73 In Frankfurt Metternich learned that Alexander I, during his journey through Germany, refused to receive petitioning German rulers and emphasized that only Austria and Prussia had the right to deal with German domestic issues. Alexander also had given up on his initial plan to travel to Italy, which concerned Metternich.74 On such terms, Metternich and Gentz were quite happy to hail the tsar as the hero of the congress.75 Gentz followed his chief. In Wiesbaden he stopped for discussions with Nesselrode and Capo d’Istria, and he travelled with them to Frankfurt. ‘At midday in the garden, visited Bethmann with Count and Countess Nesselrode, Capodistria, Golovkin. … At 7 to the Nesselrodes, had tea with him and his wife; then a very interesting conversation with him and Capo d’ Istria. Walked home with the latter’.76 The day after he dined at the Nesselrodes’ and had ‘a short but very important for him and for me conversation with Marialva’ (the Portuguese ambassador in France).77 Every night he wrote reports to Metternich. By the time Gentz reached Aix-la-Chapelle he had much of the coming congress’s work done. The next morning at Metternich’s place Gentz met the Prussian, Russian and French diplomats. He dined at a restaurant with the bankers who would handle the French loan. In the evening he called on Countess Nesselrode and Lady Castlereagh, where he met other delegates to the congress. By midnight he was back home.78

Alexander I’s journey to Aix-la-Chapelle Alexander left St. Petersburg on 8 September by coach. Ten days later he reached Berlin, where he attended the laying of a monument to the soldiers fallen in 1813–1815. It reminded the tsar once again about the costs of warring. During the ceremony Bishop Eilert’s sermon moved him so deeply that he wished to talk with him afterwards. The conversation was confessionary and quite melancholy. In the end the emperor said: ‘All people, all without exception, are selfish and pursue only their own hidden interests, unless Christianity reforms, re-­creates them.’ Alexander was weighed down by the thought that people lied even to themselves, refusing to admit their own vanity, ambition and greed.79 Still, Alexander was determined to be moderate and cautious in order to maintain the alliance. Pozzo warned that Britain, Austria and Prussia would insist on renewing the pact of the four, and within the pact they would, as in 1814, coalesce against Russia and easily paralyze her.80 Capo d’Istria, who knew the emperor’s mood, objected that such manner of seeing things ‘impedes the progress of the system. … Perceived by other cabinets it nourishes jealousy and mistrust’. Alexander wanted to avoid this at all cost. So, Capo d’Istria wrote to the ambassador: ‘Only moderation will make others forgive Russia’s power and her emperor’s ascendancy’.81

154  Business of Europe Alexander arrived at Aix a month after he had left St. Petersburg. He would stay at the former palace of the French prefects of Aix-la-Chapelle in Rue de la Cologne, which was renamed Rue Alexandre for the occasion. Richelieu, Capo d’Istria and the Nesselrodes were staying at nearby hotels. As soon as the emperor stepped out of his coach, his host, Frederick William of Prussia, welcomed him. Next, Alexander called on Emperor Francis.82 All the participants found themselves among old acquaintances. Alexander’s aide wrote: ‘We are sitting in our corners, wearing muftis83 and in the streets one sees the same faces as at the Allied headquarters during the war’.84

Life of the spa A former German free city, Aix-la-Chapelle was French between 1804 and 1815. Then Prussia took possession of it as a wealthy town of 28,000 residents. Like all spa towns, it was located in a pretty green valley watered by three limpid streams. The popularity of the famous Aix-la-Chapelle sulfurous springs was somewhat tempered by the fact that the smell of rotten eggs permeated curists’ hair, hands, towels, clothes, fans and shoes. The water tasted repugnant at first, but habit made drinking less difficult.85 Steam baths were used for treating skin problems, venereal diseases and rheumatism. Aix-la-Chapelle was famous for its relics in the ancient cathedral: the sarcophagus of Charlemagne, a piece of the nail with which Jesus Christ had been nailed to the cross, some of the ropes he had been tied with, Christ’s leather belt, a few locks of John the Baptist’s hair.86 In the ornate Gothic city hall, tourists found the statues of all the Holy Roman emperors crowned at Aix-la-Chapelle. When it became known that Aix-la-Chapelle would host three monarchs and their ministers, the city filled with courtiers, speculators and the curious. British tourists moved in from the neighbouring Belgian Spa; the French came from Paris. A month before the congress, there were almost 2,000 new arrivals besides the curists. Local police visited them to assess security risks and asked some to leave town within eight hours. Plasterers, carpenters and bricklayers renovated the streets and buildings. Loads of furniture arrived from Paris to fill the empty rooms and attics that had previously been unused. Chandeliers, lamps, mirrors, house-bells and ink stands were selling well. And in every other window there were signs of ‘Rooms to Let’. The prices of lodging made a reporter gasp and joke that they apparently included the value of daily sightings of the allied three monarchs. The Austrian emperor paid for his and Metternich’s houses 45,000 francs; Alexander I, who rented two houses – one in town and the other in the suburbs – spent 56,000 francs. Castlereagh stayed at a local banker’s house for 28,000 francs, and Wellington at the local burgomaster’s house for 30,000.87 Their reservations were for two months, so journalists concluded that the congress would not sit longer than that. To entertain the public, two celebrated lady balloon flyers came – a German, Wilhelmina Reichard, and a Frenchwoman, Elise Garnerin. The Prussian king

Era of congresses  155 came to see Reichard rise on her balloon at a large town square. She got into the basket after a brief, polite exchange with the king, the ropes holding her basket to the ground were cut and the balloon began to rise. The lady threw flowers on the ground and waved the Prussian flag. Then she disappeared from view and eventually landed safely near Cologne. The Parisian celebrity Elisa Garnerin was a businesswoman on a grander scale. She rented out chairs for the public who came to see her and sold seats in the balloon basket to the adventurous.88 To raise still more money she presented every flight as a charity ‘in honour of an event dear to all the French’. The congress was certainly one of those, but on the occasion Mlle. Garnerin fell out of the balloon basket and hurt herself. The balloon flew away and was only caught at Stuttgart. Famous London fistfighters Jack Carter, George Cooper and Bob Gregson performed for the public at the Redoute [casino] hall for 5 francs a ticket. Despite wearing soft padded gloves, they sometimes felled each other unconscious. They also offered boxing lessons to gentlemen. In another hall, men and women played rouge et noir and lost enormous sums.89 Gambling was not as popular at Aix as at the neighbouring Spa, and the general opinion was that the theatre was more entertaining because a touring German company presented both operas and tragedies.90 Musicians from far and near came to Aix hoping for lucrative contracts and instant fame. Metternich wrote to his wife that they were ‘overwhelmed with youthful talent: every day there are virtuosos aged 4 and 9 years. The last arrival is a little boy of 4 years and a half who plays the double bass. You can easily judge of the perfection of the execution’.91 Another congress delegate echoed Metternich: ‘We are perishing smothered by all the violins, cellos and singers of Europe. All the screeching brats came here: we see nothing but children of ten, of eight or still younger, whom we have to admire’.92 The famous fortune-tellers, Mmes. Gay and Lenormand, were successfully plying their trade.93 The city fathers held feasts and dinners for the royal guests, and the famous chef Antoine Carême created new dishes especially for the congress. The only dish still remembered is the stuffed pheasant à la Sainte-Alliance. Like all others, Metternich did some sightseeing and looked into the local shops, judging the merchandise unremarkable and the prices twice as high as in Paris and London. He added: ‘I do not know anyone who buys more than what is strictly necessary’.94 The British regent sent the fashionable artist Thomas Lawrence to paint the portraits of all the figures of the Holy Alliance for his collection. Lawrence arrived late, found no lodgings and stayed in a gallery at the city hall, where he sketched and painted the busy statesmen who had difficulty finding time to sit for him.95

The work The Russian emperor intended to discuss the evacuation of the armies, the issue of whether France should be admitted in the European alliance without precautions or whether the European powers should take measures to protect themselves

156  Business of Europe from revolutionary contagion and what these measures should be; a close alliance of the powers and a military treaty. Alexander wanted the treaty to be made public so as to discourage the revolutionary elements in France.96 Metternich suggested that the Chaumont treaty of Russia, Britain, Prussia and Austria should be renewed. An isolated France would serve as a buffer between the powers and the second-rank states that Metternich dubbed ‘sous-alliés’[sub-allies].97 Alexander ordered Nesselrode and Capo d’Istria to avoid arguments with the allies and asked Metternich and Castlereagh to explain to him their reasoning in writing. Meanwhile, Capo d’Istria presented the allies with a memorandum that France should enjoy a standing equal to that of other powers of the Vienna Congress. After the Russian position was accepted, formal negotiations began.98 The parties agreed that the allied troops would leave France on 30 November 1818.99 A convention signed on 9 October stipulated that France was to pay 263,015,210 francs in indemnities.100 Alexander’s aide, Prince Menshikov, wrote: ‘yesterday we decided the fate of France and freed her of all allied troops. Yesterday was the saint’s day of Emperor Francis, so the town offered a ball; everyone was there, I did not go because, like many, am suffering from diarrhea’.101 Castlereagh, seeing that the initial plan of discussing only the evacuation was thrown overboard, proposed the abolition of the slave trade, which Alexander I seconded and in his turn suggested that German territorial issues and Spanish colonial issues would be discussed. Having got his way on the slave trade issue, Castlereagh had to reciprocate and seconded the Russian suggestion with reservations. Capo d’Istria presented a memorandum summarizing Alexander I’s position on the German territorial disputes. Prussia and Britain were satisfied with it and Austria had to agree to it.102 Alexander and Capo d’Istria, both far from healthy, strained to control the congress’s work without seeming to do so. Alexander rose at 8 am, and at once his chamberlain arrived for his instructions about the military and court affairs. Between 9.30 and 1.30 am he remained alone in his room, while the ministers were at the conferences. Sometimes he received at noon. At 1.30 pm he took a walk with his two younger brothers. After lunch and until 6 pm he stayed alone in his room. From 7 to 11 pm Capo d’Istria and Nesselrode reported on the work of the conference.103 The Spanish ambassador to St. Petersburg arrived in Aix-la-Chapelle, but Castlereagh and Metternich insisted that he should leave. On Castlereagh’s suggestion, the congress agreed to give Wellington full powers to mediate in the Spanish colonies’ issue, with a provision that the king of Spain was free to accept or reject his mediation. Alexander explained his easy acquiescence to Capo d’Istria: ‘The world is in need of repose’.104 A Russian diplomat wrote that business was conducted briskly and there was very little fun105 because, unlike the case in Vienna, there were no ladies to distract the delegates.106 Metternich described his day to his wife as: ‘we confer, we walk, we dine. I have my party [of whist] in the evening and I go to bed.’107

Era of congresses  157 Every other day two-hour sessions took place at someone’s place and the delegates dined together at someone’s house.108 Twice a week they played cards at Lady Castlereagh’s or took tea at Mme. Nesselrode’s, but there were no other salons. Metternich found Lady Castlereagh so dull that he and other whist players began to meet elsewhere.109 Every morning Gentz got up at six and set to work at once. He worked steadily till midnight, interrupted by visits.110 He managed an occasional visit to the Kurhaus, but work was overwhelming.111 He was so tired that he began to get impatient with his social obligations and, forced to attend a dinner and a concert at Metternich’s, he cursed the ‘vile Catalani’ and the ‘disgusting Balabregues’,112 the staples of spa musical life. Meetings and conversations outside the congress were where real business was accomplished. Every morning before a session Gentz met with Metternich. Afterwards Gentz consulted with others while they strolled downtown.113 All the time Gentz talked to people, asked questions, aired his opinions and then, returning to his lodgings, he edited the final version of the protocols, staying up later and later. His patron Metternich led a more enjoyable life, even though he reassured his wife that the only ladies in Aix were Castlereagh’s wife, three or four other English women 50 to 60 years of age (‘quite youthful for London’), the French Princess de la Tour, Madame Nesselrode and three other Russian ladies.114 A week after writing to his wife: ‘It is with the ladies [in Aix] as with the shopkeepers: there is a total want of admirers’115; he met at Countess Nesselrode’s salon Countess Daria Lieven, the clever wife of the colourless Russian ambassador to Britain. She was a mother of two, not a beauty, but lively and malicious. Countess Lieven always sought the company of men, for politics were her main interest and reporting to the Russian emperor was her favourite occupation. Alexander I, her childhood friend, found her letters more interesting than her husband’s reports and wrote to Nesselrode: ‘Pity that Countess Lieven wears skirts. She would have been an excellent diplomat’.116 On 25 October Metternich never left the countess’s side during an overnight excursion to the town of Spa. On the 28th he visited her and the affair began,117 which resulted in several international intrigues. She became Metternich’s informant about Russian affairs because she shared his fear of Alexander I’s liberalism.118 While Metternich and Mme. Lieven were flirting at Spa, next to them Richelieu talked to Castlereagh, who opposed France joining the Chaumont coalition. Castlereagh’s weak spot was his fear of a Russo-French alliance, and Richelieu brought him over to his side by warning that if France remained isolated, it would be obliged to form a coalition with Russia.119 When the Quadruple Alliance was renewed, it was stipulated that France would participate in the meetings called for considering the measures for maintaining the Peace of Europe.120 Richelieu’s sister, who accompanied him to the congress, thought Aix-la-Chapelle was the most glorious moment of his life: ‘Peace in Europe now rests on five kingdoms and the Emperor Alexander who has been the good angel, has shown himself as moderate as he was powerful’.121

158  Business of Europe

Hierarchy of diplomatic ranks Political affairs settled at Aix-la-Chapelle belong in the past, but the congress’s convention regarding diplomatic ranks is still with us. The Vienna Congress had ruled that there would be ambassadors to the great powers and ministers or envoys to all the others. A convention signed at Aix-la-Chapelle subdivided the ministers into ministers plenipotentiary and ministers resident. Precedence was given to the ministers plenipotentiary who came to a foreign state on a specific mission. The ambassadors and ministers were accredited to the sovereign (head of a state); the chargés d’affaires who temporarily replaced an ambassador or a minister were accredited only to the foreign ministry of a state. It meant that they were not received by the sovereign and had no authority to deal with important political matters. The diplomatic corps also needed a hierarchy to avoid discussions of precedence at every reception. The congress decided that among themselves the ambassadors and ministers of various states would rank not in the order of military might or territory of their state, but by date of appointment to the mission. The minister who had the longest years of accreditation in a country was the doyen [dean] of the diplomatic corps in this country.122 He led other envoys at court functions and arbitrated in disputes over matters of honour and dignity involving them. It was typical of the 19th-century culture that viewed diplomatic protocol as the code of international civility and refused to consider bigger fists or heavier moneybags valid claims to precedence.

Carlsbad conference After the congress, Alexander’s mother, Maria Fedorovna, who had been visiting her German relatives, arrived at Aix-la-Chapelle and had a reception for all military and diplomats in Aix at the time. Her maid-in-waiting wrote: I saw the persons whom I will perhaps never see again: Prince Metternich, Chancellor Hardenberg, M. Bernsdorff, our dear and kind Duke de Richelieu. As for the Duke of Wellington and Lord Castlereagh, they got news of the death of the Queen of England and, observing the conventions, they cannot appear in society. … I was startled when I saw Capo d’Istria. The Aix labours nearly killed him … He looks like a ghost. That is why he is leaving for Corfu, not Petersburg.123 Before he left, Alexander discussed with Castlereagh the policing measures Metternich wanted to introduce in Germany. The Vienna Congress resolved that the former parts of Napoleon’s empire would be granted parliaments. Subsequently, Metternich and Hardenberg, citing nationalist fermentation and student disorders in Germany, persuaded most of Germany’s rulers to go back on their promises for the sake of ‘European stability’.124 Alexander I, too, believed that Germany’s stability was endangered. Lord Castlereagh wrote: ‘The emperor

Era of congresses  159 observed that great dangers often had small beginnings, and that if not taken in the bud they might baffle all our efforts’.125 Still, Alexander argued against going back on the promises given to the Germans,126 but Metternich went ahead with his plan. From Aix-la-Chapelle he wrote to the Prussian minister, Prince Ludwig Peter Wittgenstein, that he wanted the king to revoke his promise of a constitution to Prussia because in such a large state it would lead to revolution.127 Well-known playwright and conservative publicist August von Kotzebue’s assassination in March 1819 strengthened Metternich’s case among the German rulers.128 Metternich persuaded Alexander that the anti-Austrian movement in Italy and German student disorders stemmed from the same revolutionary conspiracy and that both had to be stamped out.129 European statesmen were unnerved by Kotzebue’s assassination and the failed attempt against Carl-Friedrich von Ibell, the president of the regency council of Nassau. These events, and especially the public reaction to them, seemed ominous: the mother of Kotzebue’s assassin Karl Ludwig Sand received over 4,000 letters of congratulations on her son’s patriotic act; handkerchiefs soaked in Sand’s blood were cut into pieces and distributed as holy relics.130 Normally, German affairs were discussed at the Frankfurt Diet, but publicity would accompany formal sittings of the German representatives, and Metternich feared that public opposition would hinder his plans. He wanted German ministers and princes to privately agree on the measures he would propose and present a ready program to the diet.131 King Frederick William came to Töplitz already worried by Kotzebue’s assassination.132 Metternich further unnerved the king by telling him that Prussia was the centre of an all-German conspiracy. Some of the less important plotters had been caught, but the leaders were still free, hatching devilish plans.133Then Metternich presented the king with an ultimatum: either he accepted Metternich’s program or Austria would wash its hands of German problems. In a series of daily meetings, Metternich overpowered the king, who agreed to rescind his promise of a constitution for Prussia and help abolish parliamentary regimes in Germany. Metternich quickly got the elderly and apathetic Prince von Hardenberg on his side.134 Hardenberg, who during the Napoleonic Wars fomented the students’ secret societies that fought against the French occupation, now agreed with Metternich that it was necessary to destroy them because ‘… [t]he needs of Europe changed from liberation to repression’.135 Gentz arranged by correspondence a conference of German diplomats in Carlsbad. The prince wrote with his usual modesty to his wife: The present moment is one of life or death. It appears that Teplitz [sic] is a place destined for my great operations. By the help of God, I hope to defeat the German revolution, even as I have vanquished the conqueror of the world.136 He told her that he was performing a historic task that others could not even grasp: ‘I cover ground infinitely larger than they can see or wish to see. I cannot

160  Business of Europe help saying to myself twenty times a day:’ Good God, how right I am, and how wrong they are’!137 The conference of German rulers began on 7 August. Setting aside etiquette and ceremony, they met daily for secret discussions either at Metternich’s or Hardenberg’s house.138 Metternich drank the waters, strolled and talked with diplomats and statesmen, while Gentz was drafting the resolutions.139 The participants accepted Metternich’s program, which the Diet would implement in all the German states. On request from the government of any of the member states, the Diet would assemble a military force to stamp out internal sedition. Each university would be supervised by a commissioner who had the power to expel a professor or a student he found politically objectionable. No university in Germany could admit those who had been expelled. Student unions were outlawed, and in the curricula the ‘positive sciences’ (mathematics, physics, chemistry and the like) were given precedence over subjects teaching students to analyze issues critically: history, philosophy and literature. For the following five years, every state would maintain a strict censorship of every printed publication on its territory.140 The hero of the congress wrote to his wife: ‘What I have wished for since 1813, but what that terrible Emperor Alexander has always prevented, I have accomplished because he was not there’.141 Gentz called the results of the Carlsbad ‘a diplomatic counter-revolution’,142 which set Europe on a new course. In September their resolutions became laws of the German confederation.

Metternich’s triumph Metternich was not entirely satisfied. He wrote to Countess Lieven: ‘If I could do what I wanted with Capo d’Istria, everything would move ahead promptly and smoothly. Emperor Alexander only becomes an obstacle because of his minister.’143 Countess Lieven and Metternich conspired in Capo d’Istria’s fall,144 which came in 1822 when the emperor invited the Holy Alliance to arbitrate between Russia and Turkey. By so doing he abandoned Catherine II’s pragmatic principle: never allow third parties to intervene in Russia’s conflict with Turkey.145 He created a precedent for subsequent interventions of the Western powers in Russo-Turkish relations. To Capo d’Istria it meant that Alexander was placing himself entirely under Metternich’s tutelage. The count told Alexander that he would not be able to serve Russia under these circumstances. Alexander accepted his resignation, pleading the need to preserve the European alliance: ‘In your place … I would say the same, but in my position I cannot change my mind’. Then he added: ‘You will leave … after completing your task and you will go to a watering place, as you always did’.146 It was the classic procedure for seeing off a statesman in disgrace. Metternich qualified Capo d’Istria’s removal as ‘the most complete victory which one court has ever celebrated over another’.147 Soon after, Capo d’Istria joined the Greek independence struggle, in which he lost his life. From then on,

Era of congresses  161 Metternich found Alexander easy to deal with. He ‘made use of the dread that the Emperor of all Russias had of revolutions in Western and Southern Europe, to … make him forget the true interests of his own country and reasonable policies’.148 Not long before he died in 1825, Alexander I told the French ambassador that for four years he had sacrificed Russia’s interests to ‘the general good and the common interest’ of Europe. He did not attack Turkey during the massacres of Greek insurgents because Russia would be suspected of advancing its own interest, and jealousies would be awakened. He said: Russian [public] opinion is the opposite of mine, but it weighs with me no more than any other consideration, and is sacrificed to the general good. I still want to do everything with my allies and nothing without them. … But I am mortal. How can everyone, and especially Canning, forget it? Why do the allies not behave so that my self-imposed moderation becomes obligatory for my successor?149

Nesselrode and Metternich take cures Nesselrode, who became the Russian chancellor under Nicholas I, was a wholehearted champion of Metternich’s ‘system of deceit aimed at Emperor Alexander’150 and later Emperor Nicholas I. In the 1830s and 1840s, the two chancellors’ spa meetings marked the stages by which conservative Vienna congress policies gradually retreated before the onslaught of revisionist forces on all sides. The two chancellors combined the care of their health with work. Three to four weeks of companionable water-drinking and strolling in the shade of trees alternated with dinners and concerts in the evenings. Nesselrode was the first Russian foreign minister to use his spa stays in Central Europe for briefing Russian envoys in European countries. They visited him at Carlsbad or Kissingen, took waters and returned to their posts rather than spend weeks in travelling to St. Petersburg and back. After a month-long cure, Nesselrode and Metternich bade each other farewell, refreshed and with a sense of duty done, and Metternich wrote: ‘I congratulate myself, dear Count, on the fortunate circumstance of our meeting. Personal contacts cannot be replaced by any other kind’.151 In 1830, immediately after the French Revolution ousted King Charles X the two chancellors met in Carlsbad and prepared a joint memorandum, the ‘chiffon de Carlsbad’ [the Carlsbad rag], as Metternich called it jocularly, which was sent to the Prussian king for his guidance.152 Its single paragraph stated that the allies were not going to intervene in France’s domestic affairs but would not allow the new French government to affect the material interests and internal peace of European states. Nesselrode was uneasy about the document because he knew that Nicholas I did not want to assume commitments with regard to the Western states.153 When he shared his doubts with Metternich, the latter reproached him for abandoning the policy ‘that served as the base of European peace and internal stability of European states’. Metternich predicted that Russia would become the

162  Business of Europe first victim of the revolution if the Holy Alliance’s statutes were not followed to the letter.154 He reflected: Deep inside I believe that the old Europe is at the beginning of its end. Determined to perish with her, I will know how to do my duty and these are not just my words but also those of my Emperor.155 Britain wanted the members of the Quadruple Alliance to show their unity by recognizing Louis-Philippe simultaneously.156 Nesselrode answered that Nicholas I, albeit with misgivings, was ready to abide by the decisions of his allies. As for Metternich’s words about the end of old Europe, Nesselrode was more optimistic than the Austrian: The old Europe disappeared 40 years ago; let us accept her as she is and try to preserve her. If her state does not worsen, we will have achieved an immense good, because trying to make her better is to attempt the impossible.157 Nesselrode regretted that soon he would go back to his onerous duties in St. Petersburg: I foresee that before two years my health will require a second Carlsbad cure. I believe, dear Prince, that I can confidently set a date with you in advance, but above all, I pray that we will not be forced to meet under different circumstances.158 His wife shared Nesselrode’s premonitions. Writing from Carlsbad, she expressed her anxiety: ‘We are here very concerned about the ominous vertigo which has taken possession of men and is pushing them to overturn kingdoms. I hope the Empires will offer a good example and stop the demented demagogues who are driven to perdition by their wrong-headed ideas’.159

Royal summits under Metternich’s eye Nesselrode persuaded Nicholas to return to the ‘legendary’ Holy Alliance.160 Nicholas accepted Metternich’s idea of monarchs’ meetings, and the Austrian, Prussian and Russian monarchs, accompanied by their chancellors, met in the Bohemian towns of Munchengrätz and Töplitz. In 1830, they signed a document committing themselves to come to the rescue of any of European monarchs who faced internal or external danger. It replaced the old Holy Alliance.161 When every summer the Prussian king arrived at Töplitz for a cure and he was joined by Emperor Ferdinand of Austria, Nicholas I of Russia and a crowd of German princes, all with their respective foreign ministers, the press called these meetings ‘congresses’. It did not matter how earnestly Metternich’s secretary assured the press that the meetings were purely private: for a week of ‘purely private’ meetings at a spa, Metternich brought over his whole chancery, which

Era of congresses  163 would then be packed and baled once again and sent ahead to wherever he went from Carlsbad.162 Privately, Nesselrode was becoming impatient with Metternich’s manipulation: ‘How does he find the time to waste so much paper? It’s a passion with him, or rather, a malady of which he will never be cured. You ought to sympathize with me a little, because out of courtesy I have to answer similar rigmaroles.’ Nesselrode continued, getting more heated: In Oriental affairs he never openly supports us, and in German affairs he abandons smaller states to their unhappy lot. … But as soon as the most trifling Austrian interest is compromised in Italy, you see him at once appealing to the Conservative alliance to do its uttermost.163 Times were changing for the conservative alliance, although the Austrian, Russian and Prussian monarchs continued to meet at spas. In 1838, the king of Prussia and Nicholas I were studiously avoiding each other at Carlsbad, and only Metternich was ‘frivolous, carefree and without fear for the future’.164 His attempt to arrange a congress of monarchs at Wiesbaden in 1840 failed. Nicholas wrote to Nesselrode angrily: ‘I cannot see how my consent to meet in Wiesbaden would strengthen Metternich’s position. But even if it were so, how can I, really, sacrifice to him much greater interests?’ He granted that if another power suggested the meeting, he would accept,165 but nothing came out of the idea because the British foreign secretary, Lord Palmerston, also refused.166 Nicholas turned his back on Metternich and the Hapsburgs in 1845 after they rejected a marriage between one of the archdukes and Nicholas’s daughter. Nicholas blamed Metternich for encouraging the idea on the Russian side and then setting the Austrian imperial family against the marriage.167 In 1848, revolution broke out in Vienna, and Metternich was ousted by the Viennese students and bourgeois. Nesselrode referred to Metternich’s fall and the collapse of his system as ‘the greatest political disaster which could have befallen us in this terrible time’.168 The long-feared revolution was raging in Austria and Germany. Meanwhile, Metternich, already safely ensconced in the Austrian embassy in Britain, composed lengthy letters that must have exasperated Nesselrode: The political year, like the astronomical one, is divided in four seasons, two active and two passive … the spring creates causes; the autumn abounds in consequences … when the moment comes I will send you an analysis of the situation. His main thesis was vintage Metternich: ‘One can imagine a badly or well-­ organized country, a badly or well-governed country. What one cannot permit is countries which have no organization and no government. It is Germany’s fate’.169 In April 1849, Nicholas I responded to the desperate plea of the new Austrian emperor Francis-Joseph II and sent Russian troops to suppress the Hungarian

164  Business of Europe insurrection. The Hungarian campaign of 1849 became the last, inglorious and futile page in the history of the conservative alliance conceived in hope of peace. As an Austrian publicist wrote, Nicholas I, ‘with remarkable disinterestedness’, worked to strengthen the tottering thrones and to enforce respect for European treaties.170 Nesselrode should have reminded his emperor what one of his friends said years before: ‘Belief in the gratitude of nations … is a silliness of the kind that one does not expect to find in statesmen’s heads’.171 If gratitude of nations was a silly illusion, their lingering hostility was not, and Russia’s relations with Hungary were poisoned by the memory of the suppressed insurrection of 1849. Metternich recruited Alexander I and his successor Nicholas I to back his scheme with Russian bayonets and by midcentury European societies saw Russia as its enemy, and Russophobia became a deterrent to Russia’s relations with the West.

Metternich’s system disintegrates During his stays abroad, Nesselrode noticed the growing estrangement of the young Austrian emperor from the Russian emperor to whom he owed his crown and became concerned about Palmerston’s hostility to Russia, adding, ‘however, Palmerston is not eternal and a war with England would be the worst of all wars.172 Despite these symptoms, Nicholas and his chancellor did not realize that Russia’s intervention in Hungary was paramount to claiming hegemony and therefore brought on the opposition of all the members of the European concert.173 Nesselrode’s and his sovereign’s confidence was based on two mistaken premises: France would never dare start a war against Russia alone and an Anglo-­French coalition was impossible; the members of the Holy Alliance, Austria and Prussia, were fully committed on the Russian side. Nicholas I’s arrogance and the sycophancy of his ambassadors, who only reported pleasing news, dulled his grasp of reality. The French ambassador pointed out that ‘Nicholas and Nesselrode are spoilt children who won’t listen to objections’.174 The Crimean War (1853–1856) put the lid on the coffin of the three emperors’ alliance: Nicholas I died in 1854, broken-hearted seeing that four decades of championing coalition interests had ended in a disastrous war and Russia’s diplomatic isolation in Europe.

Metternich and Nesselrode in retirement Not so, Metternich and Nesselrode. In the 1850s, a Russian diplomat wrote from Vienna: ‘Metternich receives every evening. I like to visit him, it is a history course. Right now he is lecturing on one of the memoirs of the Duke de Raguse’.175 When the prince ran out of willing listeners, he wrote an autobiography that a historian characterized as follows: ‘As an authority it must be used upon the principle that when it conflicts with other authorities, the latter are probably correct’.176

Era of congresses  165 Nesselrode remained serene and amiable, taking war and defeat as parts of the natural course of events. His philosophical fortitude with respect to Russia’s misfortunes made Russians bristle. He resigned in 1856 and continued to take cures, compose exquisite meals and listen to music. In Baden-Baden he met Princess Lieven. She was staying next to him at the hotel but soon left because she was bored. Nesselrode commented: ‘what a sad old age: she cannot live except in the midst of political gossip. … So, she is the least capable of understanding why I retired’.177 The count spent his last years in Kissingen. Most mornings he strolled in the promenade with Otto von Bismarck, the Prussian ambassador to St. Petersburg in 1859–1862 and later the chancellor of Prussia. Nesselrode felt as uncomfortable and nervous in his presence as he did before when facing Nicholas I. Both men, no matter what their mood, were dangerous specimens of ‘raw natural force’.178 To Nesselrode’s grandson, who observed them, Bismarck and Nesselrode, even in their appearances, symbolized the contrast between the past and the present. A dwarfish dapper Nesselrode with his shaved chin and upper lip and wispy white whiskers took mincing steps next to Bismarck, a tall, heavy man with a thick, drooping moustache. Bismarck with an effort kept the pace with his companion. Smiles and bantering notwithstanding, they did not like each other. Bismarck said about Nesselrode: This little devil has always been very unpleasant to me; he was so serene and manierlich [precious] in conversation that one was forced because of his age, to adopt the same tone, renouncing the strongest arguments, and all real discussion became impossible. He was one of those salon and chancellery diplomats whom, fortunately, we shall not see again.179 Bismarck disliked the old-fashioned diplomats who, ‘protective of their governments’ and their own dignity, considered it beneath them to enter public squabbles and make the events of even their remote past … the subject of press disclosures’.180 The habit of amiable courtesy took precedence over their desire to crush the opponent. When dealing with Nesselrode and his successor Alexander Gorchakov, Bismarck adjusted his manner to theirs but seethed at the imposition. International politics is an organized pattern of relationships within human society,181 and Bismarck was impatient to replace the old pattern with his own. Nesselrode in his turn told his son: ‘This Pomeranian Junker is much more cunning and scheming than he affects to be and if ever, by misfortune, he comes to direct Prussian affairs, he will create many problems for all Europe and will lead his country to an abyss’.182 The old man had a dim view of international relations under men of Bismarck’s ilk. When Bismarck introduced his assistant to Nesselrode, he referred to the young man jokingly as ‘a diplomat of the future’, to which the old man replied in his reedy voice: ‘In the future there will be neither diplomacy nor diplomats’.183

166  Business of Europe

Notes 1 ‘Zapiska grafa Ioanna Kapodistria o ego sluzhebnoi deiatelnosti’, Sbornik Rossiiskogo Istoricheskogo Obshchestva (Petersburg: Tipografiia IAN, 1868), 3:178 (168–242). 2 Antonin Debidour, Histoire diplomatique de l’Europe, depuis l’ouverture du Congrès de Vienne jusqu’à la clôture du Congrès de Berlin (1874–1878) (Paris: F. Alcan, 1891), 1:91. 3 Cited in Augustine Jones, The Advocate of Peace (1894–1920), Vol. 56, No. 1 (1894), pp. 5–7. 4 Cited in Paul Sweet, Friedrich von Gentz, Defender of the Old Order (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1941), 216. 5 Cited in Marina Soroka and Charles A. Ruud, Becoming a Romanov. Grand Duchess Elena of Russia and Her World. 1807–1873 (Farnham, UK: Ashgate Publishing, 2015), 98. 6 Keith Wilson, Problems and Possibilities: Exercises in Statesmanship 1814–1918 (Charleston, SC: Tempus, 2003), 20. 7 B. Capefigue, Les Diplomates Europeéns (Paris: Librairie d’Amyot, 1845), 1:170. 8 Augustus Loftus, The Diplomatic Reminiscences of Lord Augustus Loftus (London: Cassell & Company, 1894), 1:66. 9 De Noailles to Duke de Richelieu, 23.7.1817, Sbornik Imperatorskogo Russkogo Istoricheskogo Obschestva (St. Petersburg, 1904), 119:291–292. 10 The Morning Chronicle, 18.9.1818. 11 Capefigue, 1:8. 12 A.J.P. Taylor, The Habsburg Monarchy 1809–1918 (Harmondsworth,UK: Penguin Books, 1976 [1948]), 39. 13 F. Golovkin, Dvor i tsarstvovanie Pavla I, fedor-golovkin-dvor-i-tsarstvovanie-pavla-i-portrety-vospominaniya.php, 322–324 (accessed on 14.04.2015). 14 Albert Sorel, ‘Metternich’, Essais d’histoire et de critique (Paris: Plon, 1892), 22. 15 Taylor, 42. 16 Sweet, 140. 17 ‘Imperator Aleksandr. Portret pisanny Metternikhom v 1829 g.’ Istoricheskii ­vestnik, 1880, 1:169–171. 18 ‘Imperator Aleksandr’, 173–174. 19 Cited in S.S. Tatishchev, Istoriia rossiiskoi diplomatii (Moscow: EKSMO, 2010), 44. 20 A.V. Nekliudov, Starye portrety. Semeinaia letopis (Nice, 1928), 215. 21 F. von Gentz to K. Nesselrode, 16.1.1813, LPN, 5:12–21. 22 F. von Gentz to K. Nesselrode, 27.1.1818, LPN, 5:291–298. 23 Pozzo di Borgo to K. Nesselrode, 31.3/12.4.1817, Sbornik, 119:110–121. 24 K. Nesselrode to Count Stackelberg, [n/d], Sbornik, 119:160–161. 25 Karl Nesselrode to K. Metternich, 21 July 1817, Memoirs of Prince Metternich, in 1815–1829 (ed. Richard Metternich, trans. Mrs. A. Napier) (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1881), 3:63. 26 F. von Gentz to Hospodar Karadja, 20.8.1818, A. von Prokesch-Osten (aux hospodars de Valachie, pour servir à l’histoire politique européenne (Paris: E. Plon et Cie, 1876–1877), 1:398. 27 E. Daudet (ed.), Cte. Valentin Esterhazy, Nouvelles lettres à sa femme, 1792–1795 (Paris: Librairie Plon, 1909). 28 F. von Gentz to K. Nesselrode, 28.12.1815, LPN, 5:241–243. 29 Memoirs of Prince Metternich, 3:26. 30 K. Metternich to Princess Metternich, 29.8.1817, Memoirs of Prince Metternich, 3:51. 31 Maria Nesselrode to Karl Nesselrode, 16.7.1824, LPN, 5:166–167.

Era of congresses  167 32 K. Metternich to Princess Metternich, 8.7.1818, Memoirs of Prince Metternich, 117. 33 ‘Friedrich von Gentz Tagebücher’, Aus dem nachlass Varnhagens von Ense (Leipzig, 1873), 2:241. 34 K. Metternich to Princess Metternich, 8.7.1818, Memoirs of Prince Metternich, 117. 35 Th. de Bulgarine, Ivan Wyjighine, 2:238. 36 E. de Waresquiel, Le Duc de Richelieu 1766–1822. Un Sentimental en politique (Paris: Perrin, 1990), 336. 37 Count de Noailles to Duke de Richelieu, 30.5.1817, Sbornik, 119:206–210. 38 André Nicoll, Comment la France a payé après Waterloo (Paris: E. de Boccard, 1929), 91. 39 Duke de Richelieu to Count de Noailles, 1.8.1817, Sbornik, 119:298–301. 40 Waresquiel, 336. 41 Pierre Rain, L’Europe et la Restauration des Bourbons:1814–1818 (Paris: Perrin, 1908), 363. 42 Nicoll, 92–94. 43 Nicoll, 95–96. 44 Capo d’Istria to Pozzo di Borgo, 12/24.8.1817, Sbornik, 119:336–337. 45 Rain, 365. 46 Nicoll, 97. 47 Nicoll, 98. 48 Duke de Richelieu to Count de Noailles, 27.8.1817, Sbornik, 119:337–339. 49 Waresquiel, 336–338. 50 F. von Gentz to Alexander Soutzo, 17.3.1819, A. von Prokesch-Osten, 1:398–401. 51 Marquise de Montcalm, 18.6.1818, Mon journal pendant le premier ministère de mon frère (Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1936), 329. 52 F. von Gentz to Alexander Soutzo, 17.3.1819, A. von Prokesch-Osten, 1:398–401. 53 Count Capo d’Istria to Count Pozzo di Borgo, 19.4.1818, Correspondance diplomatique du comte Pozzo di Borgo, ambassadeur de la Russie en France, et du comte de Nesselrode depuis la restauration des Bourbons jusqu’au Congrès d’Aix-la-Chapelle, 1814–1818. (Paris: Calmann Levy, 1890–1897), 428–430. 54 Pasquier, 4:255. 55 ‘Friedrich von Gentz Tagebücher’, 2:241. 56 Metternich to Francis II, 8.7.1819, Memoirs of Prince Metternich, 255–256. 57 ‘Friedrich von Gentz Tagebucher’ 26.8.1818, 248. 58 18.8.1818, ‘Friedrich von Gentz Tagebücher’, 255. 59 23.8.1818, ‘Friedrich von Gentz Tagebücher’, 255. 60 K. Nesselrode to Pozzo di Borgo, 10.7.1818, Correspondance diplomatique, 551–552. 61 De Noailles to Duke de Richelieu, 20.6.1817, Sbornik, 119:249–250. 62 Pozzo di Borgo to Count Nesselrode, 5/17 August 1818, Sbornik, 119:794–795. 63 F. von Gentz to Hospodar Karadja, 20.8.1818, A. von Prokesch-Osten, 1:391. 64 K. Metternich to Princess Metternich, 1, 10.1818, Memoirs of Prince Metternich, 140–144. 65 ‘Zapiska grafa Ioanna Kapodistria’, 231. 66 ‘Zapiska grafa Ioanna Kapodistria’, 232. 67 F. von Gentz to Alexander Soutzo, 17.3.1819, A. von Prokesch-Osten, 1:398–401. 68 K. Metternich to Emperor Francis II, 18.7.1818, Memoirs of Prince Metternich, 62–65. 69 ‘Zapiska grafa Ioanna Kapodistria’, 3:231. 70 17.9.1818, ‘Friedrich von Gentz Tagebücher’, 264. 71 K. Metternich to Princess Metternich, 1, 10.1818, Memoirs of Prince Metternich, 140–144. 72 K. Metternich to Princess Metternich, 31.8.1818, 126. 73 de Waresquiel, 339.

168  Business of Europe 74 K. Metternich to Princess Metternich, 1, 10.1818, Memoirs of Prince Metternich, 140–144. 75 F. von Gentz to A. Soutzo, 17.3.1819, A. von Prokesch-Osten, 1:403–404. 76 21.9. 1818, ‘Friedrich von Gentz Tagebücher’, 266. 77 21.9. 1818, ‘Friedrich von Gentz Tagebücher’, 266. 78 29.9.1818, ‘Friedrich von Gentz Tagebücher’, 268. 79 N.K. Schilder, Imperator Aleksandr I. Ego zhizn i tsarstvovanie (St. Petersburg: tip. A. Suvorina, 1897–1898), 4:111. 80 Pierre Ordioni, Pozzo di Borgo. Diplomate de l’Europe française (Paris: Librairie Plon, 1935), 179. 81 Capodistria to Pozzo di Borgo, 10.7.1818, Correspondance diplomatique, 555–561. 82 Correspondance diplomatique du Comte Pozzo di Borgo, 10. 83 The military did not wear uniforms when travelling abroad. 84 A.S. Menshikov to A.A. Zakrevsky, 23/9/5.10.1818, Sbornik, 78:430. 85 A. Joanne & A. Le Pileur, Les Bains d’Europe (Paris: L. Hachette, 1880), 2–3. 86 Ch. Brainne, Baigneuses et buveurs d’eau (Paris: E. Dentu, 1860), 56. 87 Caledonian Mercury, 1.10.1818. 88 P. Caron and Cl. Gevel, ‘Mlle. Elisa Garnerin, aéronaute’, La Revue politique et litteraire, (1912), 1:435–437. 89 M. I. Bogdanovich, Istoriia tsarstvovaniia imperatora Aleksandra I i Rossii v ego vremia (St Petersburg: Tipografiia F. Sushinskogo, 1871), 5:15. 90 Morning Chronicle, 6.10.1818. 91 K. Metternich to Princess Metternich, 18.10.1818, Memoirs of Prince Metternich, 145–146. 92 Waresquiel, 340. 93 Waresquiel, 340. 94 K. Metternich to Princess Metternich, 18.10.1818, Memoirs of Prince Metternich, 145–146. 95 Lettres du Prince de Metternich à la Comtesse de Lieven (ed. Jean Hanoteau) (Paris: Librairie Plon, 1909), 9. 96 Schilder, 4:116. 97 ‘Zapiska grafa Ioanna Kapodistria’, 232. 98 ‘Zapiska grafa Ioanna Kapodistria’, 233. 99 Duc Armand-Emmanuel-Sophie-Septimanie de Richelieu, Lettres et correspondance (1766–1822) Sbornik Imperatorskogo Russkogo Istoricheskogo Obschchestva (St Petersburg: Tipografiia I.N. Skorokhodova, 1886), 45:96. 100 Schilder, 4:119. 101 A.S. Menshikov to A.A. Zakrevsky, 23/9/5.10.1818, Sbornik, 78:430. 102 ‘Zapiska grafa Ioanna Kapodistria’, 234–235. 103 Schilder, 4:122–124. 104 ‘Zapiska grafa Ioanna Kapodistria’, 235–238. 105 Baron Nikolay to Mikhail S. Vorontzov, 14.10.1818, AKV (Moscow: Universitetskaia tipografia, 1891), 37:166. 106 Schilder, 4:122–124. 107 K. Metternich to Princess Metternich, 3.11.1818, Memoirs of Prince Metternich, 147–148. 108 1.10.1818, ‘Friedrich von Gentz Tagebücher’, 269. 109 K. Metternich to Princess Metternich, 5.10.1818, Memoirs of Prince Metternich, 144. 110 7.10.1818, ‘Friedrich von Gentz Tagebücher’, 271. 111 14.10.1818, ‘Friedrich von Gentz Tagebücher’, 273. 112 6.10.1818, ‘Friedrich von Gentz Tagebücher’, 271. 113 4.10.1818, ‘Friedrich von Gentz Tagebücher’, 270. 114 K. Metternich to Princess Metternich, 18.10.1818, Memoirs of Prince Metternich, 146.

Era of congresses  169 1 15 K. Metternich to Princess Metternich, 18.10.1818, Memoirs of Prince Metternich, 146. 116 Alexander I to K. Nesselrode, 23.10.1825, LPN, 11:149. 117 Lettres du Prince de Metternich à la Comtesse de Lieven (ed. Jean Hanoteau) (Paris: Librairie Plon, 1909), 5. 118 D. Lieven to K. Metternich, 20.7.1820, Peter Quennell (ed.), The Private Letters of Princess Lieven to Prince Metternich 1820–1826 (London: John Murray, 1948), 41. 119 Waresquiel, 347. 120 Wilson, 19–21. 121 Montcalm, 10.12.1818, Mon journal, 335–336. 122 T. Baty, ‘Diplomatic Rank and Function.’ Transactions of the Grotius Society (1922), 8:21–28. 123 D. Ismail-Zade (ed.), Kniazhna Turkestanova, freilina vysochaishego dvora (St. Petersburg: Kriga, 2012), 89–91 (ePub). 124 Sweet, 209–215. 125 Cited in Wilson, 22–23. 126 ‘Zapiska grafa Ioanna Kapodistria’, 250–251. 127 Khristian Insarov, Clemens Metternich, ego zhizn i politicheskaia deiatelnost (St. Petersburg: Izdanie F. Pavlenkova, n.d.), 80 (ePub). 128 Insarov, 83. 129 Metternich to Gentz, 7.5.1819, Memoirs of Prince Metternich, 277–280. 130 E-D. Pasquier, Mémoires du chancellier Pasquier : histoire de mon temps (Paris: Plon, Nourrit et Cie, 1893–1895), 4:313. 131 Insarov, 84–85. 132 Debidour, 131. 133 Insarov, 83. 134 Insarov, 83. 135 Capefigue, 1:337. 136 Metternich to his wife, 26.7.1819, Memoirs of Prince Metternich, 248–249. 137 Metternich to his wife, 27.7.1819, Memoirs of Prince Metternich, 249–250. 138 F. von Gentz, 3.8.1819, ‘Friedrich von Gentz Tagebücher’, 344. 139 F. von Gentz, 25.8.1819, ‘Friedrich von Gentz Tagebücher’, 349. 140 Ach. de Vaulabelle, Histoire des deux Restaurations : jusqu’à l’avènement de Louis-­ Philippe, de janvier 1813 à octobre 1830 (Paris : Perrotin, 1860), 5:65. 141 Metternich to his wife, 1.9.1819, Memoirs of Prince Metternich 252. 142 F. von Gentz to A. Soutzo, 2.10.1819, F. de Gentz, Dépêches inédites du chevalier de Gentz, 1:428. 143 Cited in Tatishchev, 46. 144 D.N. Sverbeev, Moi zapiski (Moscow: Nauka, 2014), 614. 145 Cited in Nekliudov, 219. 146 Cited in Nekliudov, 219. 147 Tatischev, 49. 148 Joseph Comte de Villèle, Mémoires et correspondance du Comte de Villèle (Paris: Perrin, 1889–1904), 1:170–171. 149 Extract from a conversation between Alexander I and Count de La Feronnays, ­February 1825, LPN, 5:218. 150 Joseph Comte de Villèle, 1:171. 151 Metternich to K. Nesselrode, 1.9.1830, LPN, 7:148–149. 152 Metternich to K. Nesselrode, 11.8.1830, LPN, 7:147–148. 153 Insarov, 118. 154 Cited in Tatishchev, 50–52. 155 Metternich to K. Nesselrode, 1.9.1830, LPN, 7:148–149. 156 The Standard, 25.8.1830.

170  Business of Europe 57 K. Nesselrode to K. Metternich, 5.9.1830, LPN, 7:151. 1 158 K. Nesselrode to K. Metternich, 5.9.1830, LPN, 7:151. 159 M. Nesselrode – D. Nesselrode, 21.8/2.9. 1830, LPN, 7:150. 160 Tatishchev, 52. 161 Insarov, 118. 162 The Manchester Times and Gazette, 17.10.1835. 163 K. Nesselrode to P. Meyendorff, 25.4.1840, LPN, 8:22–25. 164 8.8.1838, Varnhagen von Ense’s Diary, Letters of Alexander Von Humboldt to Varnhagen Von Ense: From 1827 to 1858. With Extracts from Varnhagen’s Diaries, and Letters of Varnhagen and Others to Humboldt (London: Rudd and Carlton, 1860), 68. 165 Nicholas I to K. Nesselrode, [1840], LPN, 11:191. 166 K. Nesselrode to P. Meyendorff, 15.11.1840, LPN, 8:70–74. 167 Nicholas I to Mikhail Pavlovich, 24 April/3 May 1847, GARF, 647–1–898, ll.47–53 ob. 168 K. Nesselrode to P. Meyendorff, 21.3.1848, LPN, 9:70–72. 169 Metternich to K. Nesselrode, 21.9.1848, LPN, 9:173–177. 170 Julian Klaczko, Two Chancellors: Prince Gortchakof and Prince Bismarck (London: Chapman & Hall, 1876), 12. 171 Cited in Marina Soroka and Charles A. Ruud, Becoming a Romanov. Grand Duchess Elena of Russia and Her Worl, 1807–1873 (Farnham, UK: Ashgate Publishing, 2015), 98. 172 K. Nesselrode to P. Meyendorff, 21.12.1851, LPN, 10:72–73. 173 O. Airapetov, Vneshnaia politika Rossiiskoi imperii 1801–1914 (Moscow: Evropa, 2006), 184–185. 174 Castelbajac-Thouvenel, 2.8.1853, L. Thouvenel, Nicolas I et Napoléon III, les preliminaires de la guerre de Crimée, 1853–1854 (Paris : Calmann Levy, 1891), 190. 175 A. Budberg to D. Nesselrode, 15.12.1856, LPN, 11:137. 176 G.A.C. Sandeman, Metternich (New York: Brentano, 1911), vi. 177 K. Nesselrode to M. Khreptovich, 6.9.1856, LPN, 11:141–142. 178 A. Nesselrode, LPN, 11:220. 179 Cited in A.D. Nesselrode, LPN, 11:230–231. 180 Sverbeev, 366. 181 Paul Schroeder, Systems, Stability, and Statecraft (ed. David Wetzel et al.) (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 270. 182 Cited in A.D. Nesselrode, LPN, 11:230–231. 183 The Holstein Papers. Memoirs and Political Observations (eds. Norman Rich and M. H. Fisher) (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1955), 1:19.

7 Looking after Europe

Personal contacts cannot be replaced by any other kind. —Klemens von Metternich

Decision makers in the early 19th century had few sources of information about other countries available to them: diplomats’ reports, personal impressions that commercial and aristocratic travellers brought home and, to a limited degree, newspapers whose publications were not always up to date and factual, and private correspondence. Letters from spas belong in this last category. In the era of month-long journeys when people relied on ‘occasions’ rather than on regular mail for sending letters, spas were the crossroads at which Europeans met and exchanged news. From spas confidential or urgent letters could be sent by reliable messengers: there was always someone one knew who was going back home. From Carlsbad Countess Nesselrode informed her husband that Louis XVIII was dying and that his difficult brother and heir Count Charles d’Artois was dealing with state affairs.1 She had the news from her Parisian friends, and by the time she forwarded it, the king had been dead two days. Spas retained their importance for intelligence gathering even after the telegraph and railroads made communication easier and swifter. During the Revolution of 1848, communication with Vienna and Berlin became unreliable, and Nesselrode relied on a diplomat who was leaving for a cure in Wiesbaden to assess the situation in Germany.2 The information obtained in after-dinner chats or on leisurely excursions might not have been of earth-shattering importance, but regular meetings fostered an intimate understanding of the other side’s stance. Snippets recorded in the spa letters to foreign ministers became a welcome supplement or corrective to what they already knew about the other party’s understanding of their options and interests. In 1907 at Carlsbad, the British Admiral ‘Jacko’ Fisher lunched with Britain’s new allies, the Russian foreign minister Aleksandr Iswolsky and the Russian ambassador to Britain and at once reported to King Edward VII the main points of the conversation: the Russians thought that Germany’s influence at Constantinople was weakening; they had a high opinion of the German navy and doubted that the restrictions on warfare recently legislated by the Hague Peace Conference

172  Business of Europe would hold when Europe went to war.3 These tidbits added to what the foreign secretary, Sir Edward Grey, knew from the British ambassador’s reports about Iswolsky’s views and helped him understand the Russian minister’s subsequent moves.

Gathering intelligence at spas An observer of Baden-Baden during the high season wrote: Diplomats tirelessly watched each other. At the dinner table they plied the guest with champagne, hoping to see a secret pop up from the sparkling bubbles, at a theatre they made guesses about the policy of a court from the reaction to a monologue from the stage; at a concert they perceived a future war in the emotion born in the audience by a military chant. In a word, when newspapers announced that a statesman left for the waters, it would be quite reasonable to add that the spying of this or that cabinet was about to start at Baden, Carlsbad, Aix-la-Chapelle or Spa.4 ‘Spying’ is a strong word: diplomats were on the lookout for information. They left spying to other services, although they used the intelligence provided by spies. ‘Similarly, ‘lying for their country’ was sometimes imposed on diplomats, but in general, they acted on the principle that it was better to keep silent than to tell a lie. Governments preferred to keep their official representatives uninvolved in intrigues and shady deals, so that when an ambassador was confronted with such an accusation he might deny it honestly and convincingly. An envoy known as a liar and a snoop was of little use to his own government, however popular such a character was in musical comedy. As Alfred de Gramont said, people of their class did not gossip, but they paid attention to other people talking. From this point of view, spa cures doubled as reconnoitering expeditions in the case of diplomats and the military. In 1824, the Russian Grand Duke Constantine addressed a lengthy memorandum to his brother Alexander I from Ems, where he had brought his gravely ill wife. As the 18th-century epistolary norms required, he introduced his subject by stating the general truth: the amount of time that people spent together around the drinking fountain fostered friendships, and in time he heard opinions of all countries and parties and saw interesting things. Constantine did not join a group on an excursion to Koblentz, for it would have been incorrect for a foreign officer to mix in a crowd of tourists to see the new Prussian fortifications. Later, he visited Koblenz alone, and when the town fathers invited him to see the fortifications he said that as a foreign officer he could not ask for such a visit, but that he would gladly see them. He also visited Nassau and Weimar and included a detailed report on the armament and training of the Prussian army units. The second part of Constantine’s memorandum concerned a conversation with Constantine’s cousin King William I of Württemberg. William I had refused to follow Metternich’s Carlsbad programme, so the Holy Alliance governments

Looking after Europe  173 recalled their ambassadors from Stuttgart and virtually boycotted the king. Constantine and the Dutch crown prince, another relative, met the king for dinner. William was unrepentant5 and spoke derisively of Metternich. The king found it unbelievable that the man who had been ‘reviled, mocked, mistrusted’ during the Napoleonic Wars had become the arbiter of Europe’s destinies.6 When Constantine protested that Metternich had rendered a great service to monarchs by uniting them against revolution in Germany, his cousin asked ironically: ‘What? You too take the dreams and exaltations of youth for conspiracy? Germans do not do revolution.’ Furthermore, William said: ‘I have nothing to fear in my country … because I keep my promises. I promised a constitution and I gave it to them, and I will respect it. My word is sacred to me. I am sorry for those who acted differently.’ The prince of Orange and Constantine cried out that keeping one’s word was good, but ‘everything has a reasonable limit.’ William argued: Besides, I rule my country by law and public opinion, and with this support I believe I am stronger than the despots who change their views and their language at a drop of a hat … I do not fear Prince Metternich … unlike my neighbour the Duke of Baden. There the Austrian minister dictates Metternich’s orders to the State Council.7 The report confirmed Alexander I in his opinion that William deemed himself ‘a pocket-size Napoleon’, who wanted to conduct a policy of his own.8 The powers’ sanctions against him would continue.

Nesselrode’s eyes at spas Nesselrode travelled to Carlsbad or Ischl every other year, but his wife’s annual trips helped the Russian chancellor to keep an eye on the mood and events in Europe. Nesselrode married Maria Dmitrievna Gurieva, a spinsterish daughter of the wealthy minister of finance, in 1812. It was a happy marriage, although contemporaries joked that the diminutive Nesselrode looked next to his tall and corpulent wife as if he had fallen out of her pocket. The intelligent but waspish Maria Nesselrode had a lively interest in European affairs and during her spa stays did her best to serve as her husband’s eyes and ears. Countess Nesselrode watched the political scene because, like all the contemporaries of a universal crisis, she feared its repetition. Her reports were strongly coloured by the views she assimilated from her friends, the French ultra-royalists. Since revolution had once come from Western Europe, she believed it might do so again. After the Aix-la-Chapelle congress, she fumed that the French radicals (like Richelieu!) had duped Alexander I. Like Metternich, she despised the rising European nationalism and was angry with Alexander for thinking of ‘innovating and experimenting in his own country’9 because both factors complicated Metternich’s task of keeping Europe quiet. As the hostess of St. Petersburg’s only diplomatic salon, Countess Nesselrode knew all the senior Russian diplomats and all the foreign ones who had ever been

174  Business of Europe posted to St. Petersburg. She also accompanied her husband to most of the allied congresses and made many acquaintances there. Spa cures were an opportunity to remain in touch with them. During the Napoleonic Wars, Nesselrode was attached to the Russian army’s headquarters and crossed Europe with it. As soon as the campaign moved out of Russia into Central Europe, the 27-year-old Mme. Nesselrode left her children in the care of relatives and nannies and followed the Russian army. She spent much of 1813 and 1814 in Carlsbad, which, as usual in turbulent times, became a safe haven for displaced Europeans. She dutifully reported what she heard and observed: a daughter of a Prussian general who arrived from the vicinity of Paris told her that Napoleon’s reserve army was not formed yet and that the French had no cavalry, that France was exhausted by the war and that the wish was for ‘the great man to be defeated and obliged to make peace’. From another acquaintance she learned the numbers of the French reinforcements and the losses Napoleon had suffered before the armistice. She saw Saxon nobility pouring into Carlsbad. Their king had been an ally of Napoleon,10 but they saw no point in fighting for the losing side any longer and escaped from their country as the coalition armies approached. Countess Nesselrode diligently sought out the company of those who knew the inside of events. During the 1822 Carlsbad season, she attempted to get from Castlereagh’s former secretary Lord Clanwilliam the whole story of Castlereagh’s recent suicide. All Europe heard that Castlereagh had raved about conspiracies until he cut his throat with a penknife.11 As he killed himself a few days before starting on a journey to a congress of the Holy Alliance, everyone wondered whether he was indeed mad or whether he was overwhelmed by political intrigues. But Clanwilliam evaded the countess, either out of discretion or, as the countess complained, because in the whirlwind of spa flirting Lord Clanwilliam ‘was so agitated, so impatient to reap amorous conquests’ that she failed to detain him enough time to have a meaningful conversation.12 Much as she liked to gather intelligence, the countess was not forthcoming with it. She had her reputation to think about: after all, French newspapers flatteringly commented that ‘a great part of the consideration that her husband enjoys with the sovereign is accredited to her judicious and good advice’.13 Her foreign acquaintances assumed that she voiced her husband’s opinions, and she took care not to compromise him by rash words. In 1819, as Metternich was preparing his Carlsbad congress and everyone wondered whether Russia would side with him in suppressing German ‘sedition’, Mme. Nesselrode, arriving in Ems, let it be known that her physician forbade her to speak. When she went out she was silent, ‘knowing well that my words would be spied on and even my thoughts would be the object of guessing’.14 Mme. Nesselrode found it reassuring that after a stay in Baden Metternich invited the Russian ambassador Dmitry Pavlovich Tatishchev to visit his estate.15 Metternich had reasons to be pleased with the tame Russian ambassador: like Mme. Nesselrode, Tatishchev believed that Russia’s and Austria’s interests were identical and he warmly endorsed Metternich’s every initiative. (Tatishchev

Looking after Europe  175 recovered common sense during the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–1829, when he learned that his idol was trying to organize an anti-Russian coalition.) Sensitive to the implications of high society’s mood in 1823, the countess reported that the Austrians were amiable and considerate with all Russians in Carlsbad,16 confirming that their government remained a friend of Russia.17 In 1831, she wrote from a British resort: ‘One needs to be abroad to realize to what extent we are hated and hounded everywhere. …Whether we are victorious or defeated in Poland, hostility towards us will only grow’.18 At that time she accompanied Grand Duchess Elena to a small English seaside resort, Sidmouth. Britain was safer than the continent where the cholera epidemic was spreading and the Polish insurrection was sending waves through the neighbouring countries. Because of the general hostility to Russia, Mme. Nesselrode was pleased with the prospect of staying in a dull little place: ‘I hear that Sidmouth is a desert. I am delighted: the grand duchess will devote herself to the cure and we will have privacy’. And at once she switched to reporting political news, which she learned from her London correspondents and the newspapers that she had received19 via the Russian embassy as soon as she landed in Britain. Mme. Nesselrode passed on the rumours about the new Belgian king20 and the fears of mutinies in Paris on the anniversary of the 1830 revolution.21 Her take on the London conference of powers was influenced by the ambassador Count Lieven and, particularly, his wife: France ably got concessions from all other participants, and it augured badly for the peace of Europe. She regretted press attacks on Metternich, convinced that he was victimized for his loyal service to the cause of European peace. She cited Mme. Lieven’s reassuring opinion about the chances of a revolution in the Netherlands: ‘their prosperity is still too great, the base is too solid to fear it.’ The same source was quoted regarding Lord Palmerston’s political future: ‘she expects that he will stay in the ministry’.22 Unlike her friend Mme. Lieven, Maria Nesselrode never referred to her diplomatic career, but she took seriously her role as the chancellor’s wife. She collected at spas all available information about foreign ambassadors posted to St. Petersburg and their standing with their own governments and showed a proprietary interest in Russian diplomatic appointments. When she believed that an unsuitable man was posted to the Netherlands, she explained to her husband what sort of an ambassador Russia should have sent: her ideal ambassador needed ‘a noble name, attractive appearance, charm and ability to influence the crown prince by charming him. His wife … should be well-groomed, elegant, should belong to a good Russian family, have some connections at the Court, know Petersburg society and be able to answer questions which she will surely be asked.’ The newly posted Petr Yakovlevich Oubril was, in her opinion, ‘exceptionally naive, passive, tight-fisted’, and his wife also fell far short of Mme Nesselrode’s criteria.23 The countess recommended promising junior officials to her husband’s attention, writing about one of them – correctly, as it turned out – that ‘in time he will be an excellent employee’24 and kept an eye on diplomats’ private morals. The

176  Business of Europe Russian ambassador to Lisbon, Count Stroganov, was once again at Carlsbad, this time without his Portuguese mistress, and ‘acting as a good husband’: he was trying to persuade his wife to spend the winter at the spa25 in order to enjoy his freedom in Portugal. On her doctor’s advice after Carlsbad or Ems, the countess often went to the French seaside resort Dieppe. Foreigners came to Dieppe between May and October because the young Duchess de Berry was there. A Neapolitan princess, in 1816 she was married by proxy to the second son of the future French King Charles X. At the time of her marriage, the Duchess de Berry was ‘very blond, very white, very young, too fragile’,26 and her fragility, which resulted in miscarriages, prompted her physicians’ advice to take invigorating sea baths. The Duke de Berry was assassinated in 1820, and half a year later the widow gave birth to a boy, the Duke of Bordeaux, who stood to inherit the crown after his grandfather and his childless uncle. The young duchess was glad of every opportunity to escape from the gloomy royal palace, so sea baths were a welcome idea. In the morning, the court and the onlookers assembled at the beach. As Marie-­ Caroline de Berry stepped into the water, a cannon on the ramparts of the Dieppe castle was fired. The ladies who accompanied her ran into the waves and back, letting cold salty water roll over their white shoulders and sometimes even over their carefully arranged locks. After the bath, each disappeared into a rented room or cabin in a nearby wooden pavilion where they quickly changed, had their hair rearranged and reappeared ready for lunch.27 Mme. Nesselrode observed and disapproved. The royals, she believed, should maintain a distance between themselves and crowds. When they took off their clothes and mixed with the commoners, deference was soon replaced by familiarity and familiarity by contempt. She wrote: I go to the beach to see ladies bathing and I observe quite hilarious scenes: there are children who squeal like piglets when they are being slaughtered. I have seen the bathing of the Duchess de Berry who takes her baths like a simple mortal, along with everyone else. Music is playing all the time and a ship is anchored at a distance, and it fires its cannon 21 times. I could see this every day, but once is enough.28 The next Dieppe season was cut short by the July Revolution, which ousted the senior branch of the Bourbons from the throne. The Duchess de Berry went into exile with her father-in-law Charles X and the rest of the Bourbons. In 1832, ultra-royalists persuaded her to return to France and lead a guerrilla war against King Louis-Philippe. After half a year of unsuccessful attempts, she was betrayed and seized. Confirming Mme. Nesselrode’s scepticism about the royals mixing freely with simple mortals, during her imprisonment the Duchess de Berry gave birth to a baby and her political career never recovered, although she declared that she had been secretly married to an Italian gentleman. Yesterday’s heroine became a woman who ‘invalidated the legitimacy of her son’ and brought shame on the royal family.29 The exiled Bourbons disowned her.

Looking after Europe  177 After 1831, Mme. Nesselrode’s reports from Carlsbad, Baden and Ischl mark stages in the decline of Metternich whom she met every summer. In 1840, she came to Baden for her customary cure and to see how the political situation was evolving.30 She was struck by the change in Metternich’s looks: he looked much older than his 67 years and spoke indistinctly, as if his tongue was swollen. He also became hard of hearing. She regretted that the people who had been so good at defending the old order were going, for ‘the new ones will not be so reliable and will not be able to detain the march of events.’ She continued: Austrians reproach him for having turned a bigot and trying to help the clergy. Hungarians find him arrogant and do not like him at all. … Austrian youth with few exceptions is insignificant and notably lacking in talent, but with great ambitions. … Except for Prussia, all countries are in decay and even Prussia is finding it difficult to find replacements for the ministers.31 Her husband was helping Metternich bind the British, Russians, Prussians and Austrians together by a four-party agreement on Eastern affairs against France, ‘so that Thiers would see that he would be declaring war on Europe for the sake of a Turkish pasha’. But privately Nesselrode was annoyed that Metternich ‘believes that he can prevent war by long winded despatches to the French cabinet. Mobilizing a 10,000 strong army would work better’.32 Nesselrode’s son, attached to the embassy in Vienna, was also critical of the old man. He wrote to his father that he was disappointed by the state of affairs in Austria: after a quarter of a century in power, Metternich had not improved the finances; the treasury was empty, and Metternich himself was a moral and physical ruin.33 Conservatives are never optimists, for they know they are swimming against the tide, but Mme. Nesselrode’s letters of 1847 were – for a good reason – gloomier than ever. She went to Baden-Baden early in search of relief for her ill health. Arriving before the beginning of the season, she was disappointed that diplomats had not arrived yet, so she had to get all her news from the newspapers.34 But soon ‘someone who is in the best position to know’ showed up, and she learned all about the scandalous behaviour of the young Spanish Queen Isabella, who was on her sixth lover, and informed her husband that Louis-Philippe had paid Isabella’s mother 6 million francs to arrange Isabella’s and her sister’s marriages to the candidates who suited French interests.35 None of this augured a stable period in Spain, as the pretender’s party would increase and become more active. Mme. Nesselrode also reported the ‘fermentation’ in the Papal States and Tuscany, adding, ‘If Austria does not act energetically she will pay for it’.36 The countess returned to Russia shortly before the 1848 Revolution broke out in Paris, sweeping Louis-Philippe off the throne. Seeing trouble start once again in France, Nesselrode wrote to his son-in-law in Naples: ‘next to the terrible tragedy which has just taken place in Paris, your Naples revolutions are children’s games.’37 In 1849, revolution engulfed Germany; Metternich fell; Hungarians were fighting against Austria. Nesselrode asked his wife to forego her journey to her favourite Baden, for her political views would not let her enjoy a stay in a

178  Business of Europe Europe ruled by revolutionaries.38 She overcame his objections and in June was at Töplitz. It was a novel experience for her: the Austrians at the spa were so hostile to the fallen Metternich that even park benches carried insulting graffiti. As Hungarian insurgents swore to give death to the commander of the Austrian troops, Prince Windischgrätz, for the first time in years, he missed his Töplitz cure and stayed on his estate.39 During a post-cure in Ischl, Mme. Nesselrode met many noble Austrian families in mourning for their sons who fell fighting the Hungarian rebels. Because of the war, there were no young people at Ischl. The Grand Duke of Baden told her that he was completely demoralized because he could not impose order on his rebellious subjects. All the conversations in Ischl circled the activity of Lajos Kossuth, Mikhail Bakunin and Giuseppi Mazzini, the three most feared revolutionaries of Europe.40 In July her husband’s niece Maria Kalergis joined her. The blond beauty entertained the company at dinners with many thrilling stories: on the way from Paris to Ischl, she had safely crossed the places held by gallant revolutionaries. The countess was astonished that the fighting did not upset either postal services or travelling arrangements in Europe. She ended the letter: ‘I could write you very interesting things, but I do not dare. I am sorry that Maria subscribed to French newspapers. I will feel obliged to read them and I was so glad to do without them’.41 The countess died in Baden-Baden in the fall of 1849. She had a stroke in the midst of a post-cure prescribed to reduce stress and bring down her blood pressure, which had been much exercised by the revolutionary events.

A diplomat at Baden-Baden Intelligence gathering at spas usually took the form of trading news. In the summer of 1861, Lord Augustus Loftus, the British envoy at Berlin, travelled to Baden-Baden. There had been an attempt on the life of the Prussian King William I during his stay at the spa, and Lord Augustus was sent to Baden-Baden with a message of sympathy from Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort. He reported to Foreign Secretary Lord John Russell: The King received me most graciously and expressed in very warm terms his gratitude for the king sympathy which Her Majesty and the Prince Consort had evinced. He was for some days much shaken and very pale and nervous, but he is now quite recovered. … His Majesty invited me to remain here during his stay and as I have been ordered some steel baths and . … [as] there is not a creature at Berlin, I thought that Your Lordship would not object to my accepting the King’s invitation. Loftus emphasized that his stay at the spa would be useful because ‘as long as the King is here I have more means of knowing what is going on than I should have at Berlin.’ He demonstrated the usefulness of his stay at the spa by mentioning a few pieces of news he had picked up: the king of Prussia gave up on his idea to attend the manoeuvres of the French army at Chalons. ‘The Military Entourage

Looking after Europe  179 of the king were against it as also the Queen.’ The cancellation of the Chalons visit foiled the French government’s attempts ‘to carry Prussia in their wake’. In his opinion the king was ‘as a politician very weak – vacillating and undecided’ – and was mostly influenced by the generals who surrounded him. Loftus thought that Germany was moving towards unification, and if only it could be certain that France and Britain would not intervene, Prussia would lead the unification. And speaking of that, he mentioned a long interview he had at Baden-Baden with the Grand Duchess Elena of Russia, who surprised him by her ‘advanced liberal opinions’. He went on: She told me confidently [confidentially] that her brother the Prince of Württemberg had written to the King of Württemberg in favor of placing the military forces of Württemberg under one head – namely of Prussia. This military unity will be the first step toward a political unity and it will be later followed by an unity in the Foreign Policy.42 Such private letters from diplomats arriving at Europe’s foreign ministries complemented the information received through official channels, gave early warnings or confirmed a vague suspicion. In all cases, the news helped the ministers adjust their tactics.

Grand Duchess Elena writes from spas The active part that women played in gathering intelligence at spas is understandable: informal, unofficial politics were the only kind in which they could participate. Countess Nesselrode and her friend Daria Lieven were brought up in an environment in which politics was the main occupation. Their younger contemporary, Grand Duchess Elena, the aunt of Alexander II, was also keenly interested in politics but took care not to overwhelm her nephew with her news and views. She did not want to be chastised or criticized for meddling in state affairs, and so she preferred to address her ‘political’ letters from spas to her friend the foreign minister, Prince Gorchakov. In 1863, Russia was embroiled in suppressing the Polish rebellion and threatened by a war with France and Britain. From Carlsbad the grand duchess sent Gorchakov the information that she thought useful. She forwarded to him a letter from her half-Polish friend Maria Kalergis ‘with grave details that you should know’. (The minister scribbled a reminder on the margin: ‘Mme. Kalergis, beautiful, intelligent, Nesselrode’s niece’).43 Soon after, the grand duchess sent him a letter by a special messenger: two reliable persons had told her that, so far, France and Austria-Hungary had not signed an alliance treaty to support Poland. Polish rebels suggested to the Austrian emperor that he help them restore Poland with one of his relatives as king. The emperor turned them down because he did not want to deal with rebels, ‘revolutionaries’. The grand duchess heard that the new Austrian foreign minister, Count von Rechberg, was ‘violent, but not nasty, of the Metternich school’. Two anonymous ‘knowledgeable persons’ – the grand

180  Business of Europe

Figure 7.1  F-X. Winterhalter, Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna, 1863, oil on canvas. Wikimedia Commons.

duchess only associated with high-ranking and well-informed men – believed that the new Russian ambassador to Vienna should be chosen among the clever and reliable diplomats who could prepare an Austro-Russian understanding. The same well-intentioned advisers did not think that the Russian ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Prince A.B. Lobanov, would be well received in Vienna, but Ernst Gustavovich Stackelberg and Andrey Fedorovich Budberg, with their Germanic last names, did not seem appropriate candidates either. She met a few influential Englishmen, among them Lord Stanley of Alderbay, a friend of Prime Minister Palmerston, and from conversations with them she realized that the British remained true to their conviction that Russia could put an end to the Polish rebellion by granting constitutional and religious freedom to Poland. The British minister to Mexico, Sir Charles Wyke, let her understand that the British hoped that Emperor Napoleon III would get bogged down in the Mexican civil war where he had recklessly got involved.44

Looking after Europe  181 Her long conversation with Bismarck took place in September 1866 when she stopped in Berlin on the way to Baden-Baden, right after the Seven-Week War between Prussia on the one side and Austria and various smaller German states on the other. Prussia was victorious. The grand duchess brought Gorchakov’s oral message to Bismarck. The Prussian chancellor told her that he was prepared to sign a treaty with Russia, including a commitment to support Russia with Prussian bayonets. ‘His considerate attitude to Württemberg and Hesse [where the rulers were relatives of Alexander II] is an ostensible demonstration of his friendliness towards Russia.’ Significantly for Russia, he also said he was not interested in the Baltic Sea because the newly acquired Hanover had excellent ports and the Northern Sea would become the main base for the Prussian navy. The chancellor planned to strengthen Prussia’s ties with Southern Germany, provided France ceased to interfere. Bismarck was ready to offer Southern Germany a guarantee against foreign [French] aggression. At that moment, Southern German states were burdened with an enormous indemnity after Austria abandoned them during the peace talks with Prussia. The grand duchess personally handed a petition from her native Wurttemberg’s government to the Prussian king, asking to alleviate the terms. Bismarck repeated that he was doing everything exactly as Russia may have wished, but he needed a free hand in northern Germany because if he capitulated there, it would affect internal peace in Prussia and provoke a revolution. Therefore, he was going to annex Hanover, Hesse-Kassel and Nassau, and pour Saxon recruits into the Prussian army. Other states of the Northern Confederation would simply sign military conventions with Prussia, leaving wartime supreme command in her hands. Elena Pavlovna heartily endorsed Bismarck’s plans and added that Russia should help him now in order to capitalize later on this timely favour.45 That is what happened because many Russian statesmen shared this view and, looking at Germany’s past rather than its present, had no inkling that a unified Germany might become a threat to Russia.

Mme. Mukhanova-Kalergis from Baden-Baden The grand duchess’s friend Maria Mukhanova-Kalergis also regularly stayed in Baden-Baden, and as a woman with a broad circle of acquaintances and varied interests, she always had tidbits to interest her son-in-law, an Austrian diplomat, Count von Coudenhove. At Baden-Baden she heard about the struggle surrounding the upbringing of the Russian heir, Tsesarevich Nicholas. His policies when he took the throne would be shaped by the views that his teachers instilled in him, so liberals and conservatives fought to place their candidate with the future emperor. Mme. Kalergis’s Russian acquaintances told her that the man suggested by Grand Duchess Elena,a diplomat,Vladimir Pavlovich Titov lost his high position, that of the imperial heir’s tutor; he was accused of surrounding the heir with radicals and unreliable men. … At this moment your friend Grimm is replacing him and in tremendous favour at the Russian court.46

182  Business of Europe Kalergis’s letters give a good idea of why she was suspected of being a Russian spy: her Baden-Baden letters to Russia and to Austria – and perhaps to France, too – were full of political news. At a party attended by various German princes who congregated at Baden-Baden on the eve of a brewing Austro-French war, she learned that [t]here has been no accord arrived at, Emperor Napoleon opposes a congress prior to the war, under the pretext that [Italian] revolution should be allowed to extinguish itself of its own. As a parting point for a post-war congress, he posits the preservation of Lombardy. Now, as Austria might win the war, she will not commit herself today to the terms which a defeat might oblige her to accept. The regent [the soon-to-be Prussian King William I], on whom they want to impose non-intervention, has been admirable, saying that he will keep his Töplitz promises, even if they cost him a bloody war.47 Mme. Kalergis warned her Austrian son-in-law that Russia would stay neutral in the Franco-Austrian war, despite the efforts of the Russian ambassador P. D. Kiselev 48 to cement the Franco-Russian secret entente by lending Russian armed support to the French when they attacked Austria. Mme. Mukhanova-Kalergis’s sketches of the statesmen and royalty at BadenBaden were lively and to the point; her observations were astute – after all, she grew up in the house of the Russian chancellor and his wife: The King of Prussia arrives tomorrow, his tour was a triumph, especially for Bismarck. In Merseburg, the king was almost pushed away, for the people wanted to touch, see and acclaim his minister. The queen is damit nich einverstanden.[ The queen does not agree.] She deplores, for a good reason, this kind of success which lays the foundation for great disasters. As for the Crown Prince [Frederick William], he is in a different party and will reign in the English style.49 From his mother-in-law, Count von Coudenhove heard about the verbal agreements reached in Berlin by the Russian and Austrian chancellors in 1872. Bismarck arranged the meeting of the three emperors in Berlin to demonstrate to France that Austria-Hungary and Russia remained on close friendly terms with Germany and to exclude any hope of an Austro-French or a Russo-French rapprochement. While the monarchs dined and strolled, their foreign ministers talked one on one. The Austrian foreign minister, Count Gyula Andrassy, wanted Russia’s guarantees against the Serbian unification movement that affected Austrian interests. Gorchakov wanted Austrian neutrality for the eventuality of a Russo-British conflict in Central Asia. The two agreed orally that they would maintain the status quo in the Balkans.50 On the way back from Berlin, the Russian chancellor Gorchakov stayed in Baden-Baden, where Mme. Kalergis, met him. Gorchakov did not disclose his recent negotiations, but he could not resist giving himself airs in the company of pretty women, and in a veiled form

Looking after Europe  183 referred to his successes. Mme. Kalergis quoted the chancellor’s words, which her son-in-law could easily interpret: ‘We got along very well, we settled many little things, but there are no records. There is no pen that I would use to sign a treaty, because from now on treaties are useless’.51

A psychological study Spa acquaintances produced very rewarding character sketches of statesmen drawn by those who observed and listened to them at leisure. In 1875, the British chargé d’affaires in Stuttgart, Sir Robert Morier, met Gorchakov at the quiet rural Wildbad. An Englishman brought up on the continent, a broadly educated and energetic man, Morier was a close friend of Queen Victoria’s oldest children, the Prince of Wales and the German Crown Princess Victoria. He was opposed to Bismarck’s policy of ‘blood and iron’ and as a result became the chancellor’s enemy. Contrary to the popular opinion in London, Morier early on began to believe that Britain’s rivalry with Russia in Asia only played to Bismarck’s advantage, and therefore it would serve Britain’s interests to end it. He tried to persuade several foreign secretaries that a rapprochement with Russia was inevitable and would solve several problems for Britain. In the process, he was rebuffed by Lord Salisbury and lost the favour of Queen Victoria, but posthumously he was proven right when in 1907 the Anglo-Russian Convention was signed. In 1875, Morier wanted to learn the inside story of the recent French war scare. The French sounded alarm before a new German attack. The joint action of Gorchakov and the British ambassador in Berlin, Lord Odo Russell, made Bismarck abandon his intention. Soon after, at Wildbad, Morier had long walks and long talks with the garrulous Gorchakov and listened to a detailed account of the episode. Contrary to the German press’s assertion that the Austrian foreign minister, also in Berlin at the time, had backed Bismarck, Gorchakov insisted that Andrassy had behaved loyally to the Concert of Europe: although he refused to join Britain and Russia in dissuading Bismarck, he sided with them in spirit. The old gentleman was so delighted with Andrassy that he even said: ‘In many respects he is like me, he has the same pride, the same frankness and the same loyalty!’ Morier formulated his impression from Gorchakov: What struck me most in our first conversation was the struggle between the natural man, anxious … to obtain all the credit due to a great political success, and the diplomatic man, who had evidently arranged in certain stereotyped phrases his version of the Berlin episode, so as to keep the good relation between Russia and Prussia on its legs, and cover up the importance of the scare. … It was not difficult for me, however, to get him more and more into the former strain. When in the latter, it was always Bismarck that he pretended to cover, throwing the blame on the military sword-rattlers.52 Gorchakov said initially that Bismarck had not really intended to attack France. When Morier told the old gentleman that he doubted his version, because he knew

184  Business of Europe it was Bismarck who said it was his duty to attack France on philanthropic, moral and religious grounds, Gorchakov said: ‘Well, since you know so much, I will tell you an anecdote that will interest you’. The report by the French ambassador, the Duke de Gontaut-Biron, quoting Bismarck was confidentially sent to St. Petersburg. When Gorchakov later spoke to Bismarck at Berlin and Bismarck blamed the soldiery for the scare, the Russian said that not only ‘a few insignificant lieutenants have spoken about attacking France, but also a very different person’, and quoted Bismarck’s words. The chancellor retorted that the person who had spoken to Gontaut (Radowitz) had never pronounced these words, and he even gave Gorchakov a memorandum of the alleged conversation between Radowitz and the French ambassador (presumably specially written for the occasion). But Gorchakov was convinced that Gontaut had spoken the truth. Then Gorchakov and Morier spent some time parsing Bismarck’s miscalculations and mistakes. When they turned to Anglo-Russian relations, Gorchakov said that Bismarck believed that they were tense. Morier answered that the worse Anglo-Russian relations were in Asia, the better for Germany. He quoted the German ambassador to Russia, General von Schweinitz, to the effect that should Russia get involved in Eastern affairs, it would then let Germany’s hands be free in Europe. Morier also used the opportunity to bring together Gorchakov and Sir Louis Mallet, the permanent under-secretary of the India Office, also in Wildbad, introducing him as a man interested in the material development of the human race and the growth of international cooperation. They had two long, friendly conversations, but ­Gorchakov evaded serious discussion of Anglo-Russian relations in Asia, resorting to cliché phrases: the relations were very satisfactory, and only the low-ranking agents on both sides created difficulties. Morier insisted that if Gorchakov desired good relations with Britain, then Russian generals in the outposts should be instructed to cooperate with Britain’s great task of civilising Asia. His overall conclusion was that the Russian government could be trusted – within reasonable limits – on their declaration that they wanted to be on good terms with Britain. He assessed Gorchakov’s personality: The springs of action in the Chancellor appear to me to be vanity tempered with patriotism. He is one of the vainest of the bigger statesmen. …He does honestly, I believe, care above all things in the world to rehausser [enhance] the position and prestige of Russia in the world. Ego et Russia mea [me and my Russia] are the gods on whose altars he does not cease to burn incense. To have rescued Russia, buried and mutilated by the Peace of Paris, from the hands of Nesselrode and restored to her her maritime liberty and with it a good deal of her former position, is the fait accompli. …But he was quite aware that this would only be possible by a good deal more of truckling to Germany than I suspect … he liked. To have quite unexpectedly by the astounding bungling of Bismarck been placed in a position which not only allowed him to show absolute independence of Germany, but almost enabled him for the moment at least, to claim the old ante-Crimean position of Nicholas, of Protector of the European Peace, is a piece of luck which he is

Looking after Europe  185 far too practised a player on the political bourse not to know is unlikely again to fall to the lot of a Foreign Minister seventy-seven years old. To keep what he has got, to do nothing which would endanger the capital he has stored up, keenly to enjoy his success, is, I believe, his sole preoccupation.52 He added that Gorchakov realized Bismarck would have his revanche if he could and that a quarrel between Russia and England would give him this opportunity. So, Morier concluded, the old chancellor would do his best to avoid an Anglo-­ Russian crisis. ‘His seventy-seven years and his vanitous tenderness for his own reputation are our best guarantees’.52

Indiscretions: Calculated and other It was traditional for the host country’s intelligence services to supplement their information by reading the letters that certain interesting spa guests received and sent. This procedure was well known. The diplomat Aleksandr Nelidov, after various meetings and conversations with his German and Austrian colleagues, wrote from Ischl in 1879: I do not dare expand on the subject because Andrassy [the Austrian foreign minister] is among the guests of the spa and therefore, more than ever, a letter addressed to the Russian Foreign Ministry runs the risk of being previously perused by an agent of the Staats Kanzlerei [State Chancellery].53 Once it was known, the fact that letters were intercepted and read by the hosts’ might also be used for disinformation: during the 1911 Franco-German Agadir crisis, the widow of a Russian diplomat, Madame Marina Ionina, was taking a cure at the French Chamonix. Her close friend, the German State Secretary Kiderlen-Wächter, sent her letters with expansive comments about the political situation, calculated to be read by the French.54 Diplomats might occasionally be indiscreet in a conversation, but their frankness was limited to light gossip about personalities or the affairs of third parties. One’s own government was not discussed. But letters to a friend were another matter. A Russian diplomat, Baron L. Knorring, spent several years at the Berlin embassy and was accustomed to take cures at German spas. When he was transferred to the foreign ministry at St. Petersburg, he continued to go to Baden-Baden in summer and took advantage of the leisure to write to his friend at the Russian embassy in Berlin. His letters did not reveal state secrets, but they provided a general background to what the German foreign office may have known about the position of various officials in the foreign service. He began by telling what the German foreign ministry already knew: the Russian ambassador in Berlin was suffering from dementia and should have been retired long ago. Knorring went on: At such a serious moment in politics, it is sad for Russia to have an old man in Berlin who is unable to carry out his duty. I have been preaching this for a long time, but to no avail. Meanwhile, A[leksandr] P[etrovich Iswolsky],

186  Business of Europe it seems to me, has got himself in a really bad impasse. If this does not cost him his post [the ambassador to France], it will affect his personal standing in Paris. If he has intrigued against his own chief and created difficulties, Sazonov will use the occasion to get rid of him and will be able, in my opinion, to make it an issue for the cabinet [of ministers] to affirm his authority, or to resign. Who knows, we might still see Tcharykov return onstage. Lately our relations with France and England are no longer what they used to be. At the same time, no one has done anything to come closer to Germany.55 There are other details in this letter the Germans might have found interesting, unless of course they had already heard them from the garrulous Knorring himself at Baden-Baden.

Spa diplomacy in the 1900s After the powers had been locked in the coalitions, informal meetings at spas could hardly lead to a reconfiguration in the alliance blocs, and political news from spas was never sensational, although some face-to-face conversations might lead to serious leaks. The Italian ambassador to Germany reported that Bülow, after returning from Homburg, told him that at the spa he had been told of Italy’s secret treaty with France. Bülow waited for the ambassador’s reaction. The startled ambassador denied it vehemently, saying that mistrust would weaken the Triple Alliance, exactly the purpose of France.56 In the absence of sensational news, reporters compensated by publishing their fantasies, usually extrapolated from the events of the previous epoch. One of the lasting myths of ‘spa diplomacy’ generated by the popular press was about the role of King Edward VII in British foreign policy, and by extension his foreign trips and stays at Marienbad. The myth was believed because after decades of ‘splendid isolation’ from continental affairs Britain – in appearance, quite suddenly – came close to France and Russia after his accession. General public had no idea what circumstances had prompted the decision and how long it had taken the British government to decide, so it seemed an instant turnaround. Because the Entente took place relatively soon after his accession, most French believed Edward VII was its architect.57

Edward VII For the first 60 years of his life until he took the throne in 1901 Edward VII had been banned by his mother from participation in affairs of state and led a purely social life. In London society, his pursuits and interests contributed to a ‘lowering of the general conversational and intellectual standard inevitable to the admission of modern royalty into the society of more normally educated persons’.58 He was unable to sustain interest in any serious topic for longer than five minutes: as Admiral Fisher wrote in despair, ‘the impression is not lasting with him. He cannot grasp details’.59 The king’s secretary, Lord Esher, comforted the admiral:

Looking after Europe  187 His Majesty has two receptive plates in his mind. One retains lasting impressions. … The other, only most fleeting ones. On the former are stamped his impressions of people and their relative value. On the latter, of things, and these are apt to fade or be removed by later ones … if you can stamp your image on number one … you can rely on carrying your point.60 Edward was a self-appointed diplomat, but diplomacy mostly happened around him, not through him. British diplomats viewed Edward’s visits to France as a source of trouble: because of the potential for scandal and because of his comments that filled the French with so much joy. It became especially so after his accession to the throne. The British ambassador wrote: I know that you do not wish that the King should take to coming frequently to Paris incognito. Perhaps he won’t: he will not like it if the press treats him as the King of Belgium and Greece, who also come incognito. He complains that he is being ‘pestered’.61 The pestering was of two kinds. One, by the popular press, followed from his weakness for women: the Belgian king and George I of Greece were bon vivants who came to France for rest cures. Following them to their favourite haunts always rendered a rich harvest in gossip and innuendo of the scandal sheets. The other kind of pestering was by political journalists who picked up and reproduced Edward VII’s incautious remarks with far-reaching comments. A French diplomat recalled that Edward VII in general avoided talking politics in public, limiting himself to safe subjects like sports or theatre. But sometimes his opinions broke through when he touched upon serious issues ‘with a joviality not exempt from certain hauteur’.62 When he visited Paris in 1901, his conversation was openly Germanophobic, ‘which filled us [the French] with a deep satisfaction, as it augured a shift in the policy’.63 From the British point of view, Edward exceeded his role as a constitutional monarch in Paris. Nobody had asked him to warn the French foreign minister Delcassé against the Kaiser or to speak of his own wish for a rapprochement with France and Russia. It was entirely unnecessary to send his rakish friend, the Portuguese ambassador Marquis de Soveral, to Paris to repeat to the French foreign minister that the king disliked German policy.64 The king’s Germanophobia or his French sympathies did not determine British foreign policy, although the general public liked to put a human face on political shifts and a royal face made for a good story. When the king’s former secretary appealed to a veteran British diplomat, Francis Bertie, to prevent the publication in the Dictionary of National Biography of an article on Edward VII that ‘belittled’ the king,65 Bertie answered coolly that ‘Edward VII [was] credited with much more opportunity of initiative and power than he really possessed.’ The diplomat dismissed all notion of the king’s independent diplomacy, admitting only that ‘when he was put in possession of the requisite information there could be no better ambassador’, for

188  Business of Europe his status gave weight to his words.66 A German journalist, Maximilian Harden, developed the idea: He favoured alternately all the schemes destined to fail, just as he opposed by turns all ideas destined to succeed, from women’s suffrage to the Hague Peace Conference. …Even his action for the Triple Entente was less happy than is generally believed, or was at least mingled with rashness. At the time of his first visit to Paris his letters prove that he was only concerned with social success or, at any rate, that he did not weigh the consequences that might eventually result from an excess of noise. For that matter, always, even when the central idea of his ‘policy’ answered perfectly to the need of the country and to the views of its statesmen, he dressed it up in too many foreign tours, too many Wiesbadens.67 Sometimes the king did not bother to dress his ‘policy’ up. It irked him to follow the Foreign Office’s instructions, and he dispatched the matter offhand. In 1902, the king was to meet his nephew, the German emperor, at Homburg; Lord Lansdowne, who had arranged the political talks between the two monarchs, gave the king a memorandum outlining what he should say on every topic that might come up. When the two monarchs met, the king simply pulled Lansdowne’s script out of his pocket and gave it to William II. The German foreign office was puzzled but read the documents and prepared answers to it, which it gave to the king. When Lansdowne heard of the king’s attitude, he became angry.68

Sir Frank Lascelles from Homburg After King Edward switched from Homburg to Marienbad, his nephew the kaiser continued to come there. On his invitation, the British ambassador, Sir Frank Lascelles, sometimes accompanied him. Lascelles in 1905 spent much time with the German emperor in Homburg and, to his distress, learned about William’s grievances against his British uncle. One day after dinner, Emperor William told Lascelles that Edward VII’s letter to his son the Crown Prince contained insulting remarks about himself. William II cited several other instances when he felt slighted and said that he was convinced that the king was looking for a quarrel. Lascelles asked for and got the German emperor’s permission to report these remarks69 to Lord Lansdowne. The foreign secretary at once asked Lascelles for details. In the next heart-to-heart at Homburg, William II said he was offended that the king did not value Germany’s friendship: King Edward took no notice of the warm reception of the British fleet in German ports; he refused to meet the kaiser when passing through Germany. Moreover, through his secretary, he sent the press a stiff contradiction of a report that such a meeting would take place.70 Apparently, once the kaiser got on the subject, he would not let go. He said that his son, the crown prince, twice turned down King Edward’s invitations because it was a breach of manners to invite the son without asking first for his

Looking after Europe  189 father’s permission. William II said that Uncle Edward wanted ‘to get hold of the Prince’71 – it would seem, in order to influence him against his father. Lascelles protested that it could not be so. William II exclaimed: ‘I do not mind England, I encouraged my son to go’, so that he would learn about the English and let the English know him. But as father he hesitated to let his young son stay at the king’s palace, where he would witness at night the ‘unseemly romping in unlighted corridors’ of semi-dressed female guests,72 something that the kaiser apparently remembered from his own visits. Lascelles reminded his chief that, indeed, on his way back from Marienbad Edward VII refused to meet the kaiser, and his secretary, Lord Knollys, issued a statement that the king had never intended to meet the German emperor. The note was so curt that the Germans were offended.73 Lord Lansdowne answered: Between ourselves, I fear the king is responsible for much of the trouble. He talks and writes of his Royal Brother in terms which make one’s flesh creep, and the official papers which go to him whenever they refer to H[is] I[mperial] M[ajesty] come back with all sorts of annotations of a most incendiary character’.74 Edward VII’s dislike of William II should not have mattered, but it did because like his nephew, he believed that foreign policy was, to a great degree, the relations between sovereigns. William II’s best friend, Prince Philip von Eulenburg, wrote to the German State Secretary Bűlow in 1903 that the German emperor ‘sees and judges all things and all men purely from his personal standpoint. Objectivity is lost completely, and subjectivity rides on a biting and stamping stallion’.75 Edward VII rarely missed an opportunity to taunt his German nephew by malicious or snubbing remarks that were obligingly passed on by the listeners. When the nephew and the uncle became monarchs, they soon destroyed what was left of their earlier relationship.

Edward VII’s spa correspondence While the king was in Britain, his participation in foreign affairs was limited to receiving the diplomatic corps, reading memoranda and commenting on international affairs in conversations with foreign secretaries. On the continent he felt more uninhibited. In 1905, Norwegian and Swedish commissioners in Carlsbad were negotiating the dissolution of their countries’ union and Norway’s sovereignty. Journalists were not privy to the discussions. Irked by the secrecy of these negotiations, a newspaper solemnly scolded the politicians: ‘[it is] doubtful whether this decision is a wise one. Slow preparedness is better than disagreeable surprises – people need time for sober reflection.76 King Edward’s daughter was married to a Danish prince, so family interests were at stake, and as soon as the king arrived in Marienbad he went into action. First, he wrote to the Swedish crown prince regarding the possibility of Prince

190  Business of Europe Charles (his son-in-law) accepting the crown of Norway. The king wrote: ‘as a relative I want to offer my personal opinion’,77 but no letter of his on a political issue could be taken as completely divorced from the opinion of the Foreign Office. Sir Edward Goschen, the ambassador in Vienna, who was in Marienbad to keep Edward company, reported to the foreign secretary: The king is much upset by the present state of the Norway Crown question. Immediately on his arrival here His Majesty desired me to telegraph to Johnstone [the minister in Copenhagen] to keep me fully informed on what was going on. The king gave Goschen a telegram with instructions to send to Johnstone. Goschen enclosed a copy in his letter to the foreign secretary. He added that the king returned to the subject that night at dinner, saying that the Danes carried their fear of hurting the Swedes too far and could hurt Prince Charles’s chances. The king asked Goschen to tell Lansdowne that he sent a telegram to provide a stimulus to the urgent matter.78 The king’s ciphered telegram ran: King much disappointed at telegram. Hopes king of Denmark as well as Crown Prince have seen copies of King Edward’s letter to Crown Prince of Sweden. If Prince Charles were not to accept Norwegian Crown now King Edward fears that he and his family will be covered with ridicule. It is generally expected that Prince Charles will go to Norway; should he not, King Edward is convinced that German Emperor will send one of his sons, and much fears intrigues from that quarter already going on. The King does not believe that Prince Charles’ candidature would be distasteful to the King of Sweden. Ask to see Crown Prince and communicate contents of this telegram in King’s name. Inform Count Raben [Danish foreign minister] also of contents. Signed. Goschen.79 Four days later, Goschen reported to London that the king was more hopeful after receiving a ‘manly and straightforward’ letter from the Swedish crown prince, stating that he had turned down the Norwegian crown. Goschen passed on to the Foreign Office the king’s advice to inform the Danes that Britain would immediately acknowledge Prince Charles if he accepted the crown. The king wanted Denmark to announce at once that Prince Charles would go to Norway and sought to get England to announce that it was backing him, otherwise chaos and republican propaganda would overtake Norway. He modestly suggested that his involvement was important as ‘The goodwill of King Edward will never be forgotten and surely England would not regret to follow his farseeing politics’.80 Lansdowne replied with two letters. The letter that Goschen was to show to the king said that the foreign secretary understood His Majesty’s point of view, but that ‘Prince Charles’ candidature is not likely to suffer if we abstain from supporting it too strenuously’. Lansdowne added that perhaps the king had private

Looking after Europe  191 information about the designs of the German emperor, but the Foreign Office knew of no such designs. In the letter meant for Goschen only, he said: I should if I had the chance, have dissuaded him from sending his telegram of August 18 to Johnstone. He was full of these ideas when Mr. Balfour and I saw him on August 12 and we did our best to keep him quiet. Prince Charles’ chances will not in my opinion be improved by our intervention. Landsdowne pointed out that if Johnstone indeed showed the king’s telegram to the prince and to the Swedish ambassador, then the reference to William II’s alleged intrigues would create unpleasantness between Britain and Germany. Lansdowne closed the note with a plea: ‘Pray, if you can, discourage him from further efforts of the same kind’.81 Goschen apologized for failing to control the king’s enthusiasm: he said that the king dictated the telegram to him. Goschen procrastinated as much as he could and tried to dissuade the king from sending it by reading it twice over to the king, but ‘His Majesty was so keen and moreover upset that I had no chance of softening it’ A few days later, Goschen reassured his chief by saying that ‘the King regarded the question just as you would wish’. But every time a candidate for the Norwegian crown was mentioned, the king could hardly keep away from the telegraph forms, although all he did send abroad was a telegram to Johnstone.82 Lansdowne replied: ‘I am glad that the King is in a more patient mood and I only hope that the [litigants] may not give him an excuse for returning to the charge’.83 Lansdowne was right: without Britain’s pressure the Danish Prince Charles, under the name of Haakon, became the king of Norway, and King Edward’s daughter Princess Maud became the queen. Goschen warned his chief about another potential risk: ‘The Peace negotiations and their conclusion have occupied His mind lately almost exclusively’.84 He referred to the ongoing Russo-Japanese negotiations in Portsmouth (USA). Edward VII was kept up to date on Portsmouth events by the letters from his own correspondent, The Times’s foreign editor, Sir Donald Mackenzie Wallace, who travelled to the United States with the Russian delegation. At Marienbad the king told the U.S. ambassador to Vienna, as they were sipping their morning glasses of water, that in his opinion Portsmouth negotiations would fail because Japan would not make concessions to Russia. To achieve peace, the king said, Russia had to be broke and beaten first. Ambassador Bellamy Storer was embarrassed because the king spoke loudly and the people around them could hear. The king also said that he was concerned that the United States and ‘other countries’ would give credits to Russia and so draw it into an alliance. Soon the German ambassador to Vienna, Count Wedel, reported to Berlin the exchange at the Marienbad fountain. From Berlin it travelled, duly edited, to Russian Emperor Nicholas II.85 Relations between Russia and Britain were tense at the time, having gone through a major crisis. The Russian emperor’s anger with Britain made him susceptible to Germany’s offers of alliance, and Edward VII’s voiced opinions were used to undermine Britain’s relations with Russia.86

192  Business of Europe

Notes 1 Maria Nesselrode to Karl Nesselrode, 18.9.1824, LPN, 5:169. 2 K. Nesselrode to P. Meyendorff, 20.5.1848, LPN, 9:97–100. 3 Admiral Fisher to Edward VII, 08.09.1907, Fear God and Dread Nought! The Correspondence of Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fisher of Kilverstone (Ed. A.J. Marder) (London: Jonathan Cape, 1952–1959), 129–130. 4 G. Touchard-Lafosse, 2:58. 5 G.D. Constantine to Alexander I, 25.11.1824, LPN, 5:180–212. 6 A Russian diplomat, Fedor Golovkin, wrote: ‘I stood behind … [Metternich] during the famous scene at Saint-Cloud in 1808 … he spoke very well, but he should have spoken louder or forced Bonaparte to fall silent, when the latter in a loud and clear voice was pouring floods of insults on the Austrian emperor. … The ambassador replied correctly, but either habit or deference made him speak in such a low voice that two steps away he was not heard. So, those present saw … only a despot who was chastising his slave.’ F. Golovkin, 326–327, fedor-golovkin-dvor-i-tsarstvovanie-pavla-i-portrety-vospominaniya.php (accessed on 29.08.2016). 7 G.D. Constantine to Alexander I, 25.11.1824, LPN, 5:180–212. 8 De La Feronnays to Chateaubriand, 28 November 1823, Grand Duke Nikolai Mikhailovich, Imperator Aleksandr I: Opyt istoricheskogo issledovaniia (St. Petersburg: Ekspeditsiia zagotovleniia tsennykh bumag, 1912), 2:494–506. 9 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 18.3.1819, LPN, 6:37–40. 10 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 19.7.1813, LPN, 5:120–121. 11 Lady Cowper, 15.8. [1822], Tresham Lever (ed.), The Letters of Lady Palmerston (London: John Murray, 1957), 107. 12 M. Nesselrode to Karl Nesselrode, 1.8.1824, LPN, 5:167–169. 13 Mme. G. Ducrest, Chroniques populaires illustrées (ed. G. Barba), 1819, 58. 14 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 15.6.1819, LPN, 6:87–9. 15 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 9.9.1823, LPN, 5:155–156. 16 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 2.8.1823, LPN, 5:149. 17 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 18.9.1824, LPN, 5:169. 18 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 17.7.1831, LPN, 7:202–204. 19 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 22.6.1831, LPN, 7:183–184. 20 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 1.7.1831, LPN, 7:185–186. 21 M. Nesselrode to K.Nesselrode, 25.6.1831, LPN, 7:184. 22 M. Nesselrode to K.Nesselrode, 5.7.1831, 7:187–188. 23 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 9.12.1822, LPN, 6:144–145. 24 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 15.9.1823, LPN, 5:156–157. 25 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 18.9.1824, LPN, 5:169. 26 Montcalm, 161. 27 Touchard-Lafosse, 2:26–27. 28 M. Nesselrode to D. Nesselrode, 18.8.1829, LPN, 7:127–128. 29 Caledonian Mercury, 20.6.1833. 30 M. Nesselrode to D.Nesselrode, 7.10.1840, LPN, 8:47. 31 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 2.8.1840, LPN, 8:33–35. 32 K. Nesselrode to P. Meyendorff, 10.10.1840, LPN, 8:48–51. 33 D. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 4.11.1840, LPN, 8:63–64. 34 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 10.6.1847, LPN, 9:28. 35 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 17.6.1847, LPN, 9:30. 36 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 21.8.1847, LPN, 9:33–34. 37 K. Nesselrode to M. Chreptovich, 9.3.1848, LPN, 9:68–70. 38 K. Nesselrode to P. Meyendorff, 25.5.1849, LPN, 9:241–244. 39 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 26.6.1849, LPN, 9:260–261.

Looking after Europe  193 40 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 8.7.1849, LPN, 9:262–266. 41 M. Nesselrode to K. Nesselrode, 21.7.1849, LPN, 9:269–270. 42 Lord Augustus Loftus to Lord John Russell, 26.7.1861, PRO 302279, 341–343. 43 G.Duchess Elena Pavlovna to A.M. Gorchakov [n.d.], GARF, 647–1–651, l.7 ob. 44 G. Duchess Elena Pavlovna to A.M. Gorchakov, 20.9.1863, GARF 647–1–651, ll.12 ob. 45 E. F. von Rahden to A.M. Gorchakov, 2.9.1866, GARF, 647–1–651, ll.13–14 ob. 46 M. Kalergis to Count von Coudenhove, 26.10.1858, Marie von Mouchanoff-Kalergis, 53–55. 47 M. Kalergis to Count von Coudenhove, 26.10.1858, Marie von Muchanoff-Kalergis, 55–56. 48 M. Kalergis to Count von Coudenhove, 17.5.1859, Marie von Muchanoff-Kalergis, 66–68. 49 M. Kalergis to Count von Coudenhove, 28.9.1865, Marie von Muchanoff-Kalergis, 167–168. 50 Istoriia diplomatii (Moscow: AST, 2006), 582. 51 M. Kalergis to Count von Coudenhove, autumn 1872, Marie von Muchanoff-Kalergis, 293. 52 Sir Robert Morier to Lord Derby, Memoirs and Letters, 2:362–370. 53 A. Nelidov to K. Gubastov, 29.6/11.7.1879, IRLI RAN, 463–26, ll.83–86 ob. 54 Christopher Andrew, Theophile Delcasse and the Making of the Entente Cordiale (London: Macmillan, 1968), 70 n. 55 L. Knorring to N. van der Vliet, 6/19.5.1912, BL ADD 49066, 160–161. 56 Lanza to Tittoni, 5.2.1905, I documenti diplomatici italiani. 1896–1907. Terza serie, 8:749–750. 57 Andrew, 195. 58 Cited in James Pope Hennessy, Monckton Milnes: The Flight of Youth 1851–1885 (London: Constable, 1951), 173. 59 Admiral Fisher to Lord Esher, 5.8.1904, Fear God and Dread Nought, 1:323. 60 Lord Esher to Admiral Fisher, 6.8.1904, Fear God and Dread Nought, 1:324. 61 Sir F Bertie to Lord Lansdowne, 3.5.1905, FO 800/127, 43–44. 62 Comte de Maugny, Cinquante ans de souvenirs, 1859–1909 (Plon-Nourrit et Cie, 1914), 260. 63 Comte de Maugny, 261. 64 Andrew, 209. 65 F.M. Ponsonby to Sir Francis Bertie, 31.10.1912, FO 800/174,146–147. 66 Sir Francis Bertie to F. Ponsonby, 27.10.1912, FO 800/174, 148. 67 Count Carlo Sforza, Makers of Modern Europe: Portraits and Personal Recollections (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1930), 261–262. 68 Gordon Brook-Shepherd, Uncle of Europe (London: Collins, 1975) 107–108. 69 Lascelles to Knollys (cipher), 9.9.1905, FO 800/127, 88–89. 70 Lascelles to Lansdowne, 12.9.1905, FO 800/127, 92–93. 71 Lascelles to Lansdowne, 13.9.1905, FO 800/127, 101–105. 72 Lascelles to Lansdowne, 13.9.1905, FO 800/127, 101–105. 73 Lascelles to Lansdowne, 13.9.1905, FO 800/127, 101–105. 74 Lansdowne to Lascelles, 25.9.1905, FO 800/127, 111. 75 Cited in John C.G. Röhl, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes: A Character Sketch of Emperor William 2’, Kaiser Wilhelm II. New Interpretations. The Corfu Papers (ed. John C.G. Rohl and Nicolaus Sombart) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 30. 76 ‘Sweden and Norway’, 6.9.1905, The Manchester Guardian, 6. 77 Edward VII’s draft letter to the Swedish heir, 13.08.1905, FO 800/136, 165–167. 78 Goschen to Lansdowne, 18.08.1905, FO 800/136, 169–170. 79 Goschen to Johnstone, 18.08.1905, FO 800/136, 171.

194  Business of Europe 80 81 82 83 84 85

Goschen to Lansdowne, 22.08.1905, FO 800/136, 180. Lansdowne to Goschen, 23 August 1905, FO 800/136, 183. Goschen to Lansdowne, 2.09.1905, FO 800/136, 199. Lansdowne to Goschen, 5.9.1905, FO 800/136, 202. Goschen to Lansdowne, 2.09.1905, FO 800/136, 199. S. Münz, Eduard VII in Marienbad: Politik und Geselligkeit in den böhmischen ­Weltbadeorten (Wien: Saturn, 1934), 86. 86 M. Soroka, Britain, Russia and the Road to the First World War (Farnham, UK: ­Ashgate Publishing, 2011), 99.

8 Secret diplomacy

At the same time and the same rate as public history advances, so does secret history, the bizarre, intricate and unedifying history … whose goings-on are kept from the crowd, like Chevet keeps from gourmets the secrets of his kitchen. —Louis de Lomenie

Statesmen and diplomats found spas extremely convenient when they wanted secrecy. Secret political deals will always be with us: the stakes in politics are very high, and statesmen make use of all the methods at hand to win. For practical purposes, ‘secrecy … probably always will remain the dominant factor and usual method’ for introductory negotiations.1 It helps avoid competition and mutual jealousies, speeds up negotiations, and abates national hostilities and prejudice (does not allow fickle public opinion to influence the outcome).2 Secrecy is often needed to circumvent international or domestic opponents by presenting them with a fait accompli. Secrecy may also respond to the nature of the negotiations: certain arguments used in a candid exchange will shock public opinion and so cannot be repeated in public. Sometimes unofficial talks are preferable because official negotiations raise high expectations in public, and their failure damages the prestige of the government. Or, indeed, secrecy is required in pursuit of illegitimate goals. Absence of control – and usually absence of records – makes secret negotiations both tempting and risky.

Napoleon III’s secret policies Monarchs used secrecy when they wanted to take diplomacy out of professionals’ hands. Emperor Napoleon III greatly diminished the role of French diplomacy by his secret moves. He had two policies: the official one was ‘managed by the ministers, more or less debated in front of the chamber, praised or criticized by the press and offered to the public, to give it something to do in free time.’ He also had his own secret policies, hidden from the ministers and the parliament. Their function was ‘to prepare the conflicts from which the country would later reap some advantage’.3 He did so partly because it was his nature. A former French prime minister. François Guizot. wrote to his Russian correspondent:

196  Business of Europe [Napoleon III] attempts to do something, in my opinion, absolutely impossible: he wants to play two roles and hold two cards simultaneously, the conservative and the reformer, the conqueror and the peace-maker. … So, even his successes, be it in war or in peace, end up in embarrassments … as it has to happen when one pursues two opposite goals at the same time.4 His personality may have inclined him to secret deals, but Napoleon III’s position and his goals certainly prompted this course. He had no party to support him, and he faced hostility from both the right and the left.5 His ministers often disagreed with his nostalgia of the grand past, his belief in the providential mission of the Bonapartes and his political ambitions. At the same time, members of his intimate circle assured Napoleon that only victories and conquests would consolidate his dynasty.6 Coming to power as a nephew of the first Bonaparte, Napoleon III justified his raison d’être in the eyes of France by his efforts to restore it to the dominant position lost in 1814. ‘His projects are difficult to grasp’, the Russian ambassador to France wrote, but ousting Austria from Italy was his favourite topic, and pushing the French frontier on the Rhine was ‘his ambitious dream that dominated all others’.7 For this he needed to have the Vienna treaty revised. After Russia’s defeat in the Crimean War in 1856, Britain and Austria opposed a revision of the Vienna treaty8 and Napoleon turned to Russia, which had been stripped of its position in the Balkans and the Black Sea, and would be interested in restoring it.9 He needed Russia’s support or favourable neutrality during his imminent war with Austria. Private meetings and unwritten secret arrangements responded to his needs – to save face if rejected; to keep his highly provocative plans and shifting positions secret until the very last; to get out of an unwritten arrangement if need be, without losing credibility. He summarized his reasons in a conversation with the Russian emperor’s brother: ‘A written word acquires a very different meaning, while in a conversation it is much easier to tackle delicate issues, and besides, unlike a written document, one does not tie one’s hands’.10 In his secret diplomacy, Napoleon dealt with the other party personally or through his cousin, Prince Jérome-Napoleon. Secretly meeting in Paris foreign statesmen who interested him was almost impossible: too many eyes were watching him – hence his habit of inviting them to visit him while he was holidaying away from Paris.

France under Napoleon III The first impression of the Russian ambassador, Andrey Fedorovich Budberg, from France was ‘order, rationality, prodigious wealth and intelligent exploitation of resources’. One had to render his due to Napoleon III.11 At the same time, corruption, speculation and graft plagued his reign and marred his government’s and his relatives’ reputations. His wife’s name was associated with excesses of high living to the detriment of the emperor’s prestige. Napoleon married a Spanish noblewoman, not a suitable party for a man who needed to found an imperial

Secret diplomacy  197 dynasty and not the best choice as a consort. Maxime Du Camp wrote about the last French empress with undisguised aversion: She exercised an odious influence on the society’s behaviour. … Superstitious, superficial, with a taste for salacious jokes, always concerned with the impression she was making, showing off her bare shoulders and breast, with dyed hair, rouged face, eyes lined with black pencil, painted lips. … Cold, without passion, grasping and a spendthrift at the same time.12 Her courtier spoke of Eugenie’s ‘innocent gaiety’ and her tendency at 40 to enjoy children’s games and childish pranks, which he took for signs of her ‘simplicity and strength of soul’,13 but to less worshipful observers it was evidence of her shallowness. By the end of Napoleon’s reign, when his health had failed, she sat in on the sessions of the council of ministers to prepare her for the regent’s role in the event of her husband’s death, but she was not a stateswoman, despite her strong opinions and frequent attempts to interfere. But Eugenie was ahead of other royal consorts in spending on clothes and was a patroness of the couturiers. These men, who replaced the traditional seamstresses, dictated to ladies what they would wear and charged exorbitant prices for gowns that would be sometimes worn only once.14 The son of the famous couturier, Worth said proudly: ‘My father persuaded Empress Eugenie to revive Lyons silk industry by bringing into fashion vibrant-coloured fabrics with floral patterns’.15 The European media spread the news of Eugenie’s new hat adorned with ‘the last rose of summer’ in 17 shades of pink. Her hats and gowns were copied everywhere in Europe. These were her indisputable triumphs. Splendour might be seen as enhancing the image of the French empire. It also invited comparisons between the empress’s conspicuous consumption and the misery of her subjects.

Napoleon and spas There are two clashing views of the second part of Napoleon’s reign: either France maintained ‘a threatening stillness which is both the outcome and the fear of a tyranny’16 or it was a period when the country’s commerce and industry developed at an extraordinary pace. The latter is evidenced by the number of scientists, artists and composers who worked under the Second Empire, the renovation of Paris, and also ‘the spa fever’ which seized the French during Napoleon’s reign. In the 14 years between the end of the Crimean War and the Franco-Prussian War, Napoleon III went to French spas many times. He was interested in improving them, enjoyed designing their alleys and parks and made generous donations to the spa towns. A fashion was created.17 The emperor encouraged the establishment of the Societé d’hydrologie médicale, and since 1858 a newspaper, La Gazette des eaux, published information about French and foreign spas. Some of France’s 150 watering places became internationally famous thanks to the imperial patronage. Every summer crowds

198  Business of Europe followed the emperor and empress to the spas. Old spas underwent considerable rebuilding and growth, and the crowd that visited them visibly changed. Traditionally, most spas had hospices where the sick poor were housed and treated free of charge. As entrepreneurs took charge of spas, the poor were gradually pressed out.18 Instead, casinos mushroomed, races were introduced and touring companies of actors and music bands were brought in. Every summer after the military manoeuvres, Napoleon took a month’s cure at a spa and then joined the empress at her favourite seaside resort, Biarritz. Ostensibly, he went to spas to rest, so politics were banished from his daily routine. Only one minister of the government accompanied him, and a Paris official came and went with urgent dispatches that required the emperor’s signature. The visitors were the personal friends of the imperial couple and persons of distinction who were granted a special interview.19 In reality, only official politics were banished, and the absence of ministers particularly suited the veteran conspirator’s interests because ‘[p]olitical affairs were handled outside the routine offices and ministries’,20 a courtier wrote about the emperor’s stays at spas. Two of Napoleon’s favourite resorts became associated with historic secret meetings with foreign statesmen.

Plombières The small, sunny, elegant Plombières, surrounded by high wooded hills in the Vosges region, not far from the border with Switzerland and Piedmont, had two claims to fame prior to Napoleon III’s reign: the Crème Plombières, a rich and smooth vanilla ice cream served on a dish in the shape of a rock, and 27 hot springs known – predictably – since Roman times. Plombières’ waters are sterile and transparent and have no offputting smell. Their temperatures are between 12 and 74º C. In the 16th century, the father of modern surgery, Ambroise Paré, recommended them as an excellent remedy for gynecological ailments, and the recommendation did not go unheeded. In the 1830s, a visitor noticed that the town bore distinct traces of royal ladies’ patronage: the fountain Amélie was named after the consort of King Louis-Philippe who often came there, and Caroline alley in front of the watering establishment was a souvenir of the Duchess de Berry’s visits.21 Later, physicians recommended Plombierès for all sorts of digestive problems and rheumatism, chronic diarrhea, constipation, colitis, gout, liver, and nerves. They also welcomed paraplegic patients, whose condition was ‘modified’ by thermal treatment. At the beginning of the century, men and women, all wearing long, woollen robes, took baths together, in the same pool. As Plombierès physicians prescribed baths of unusually long duration, some people had floating tables brought to the pool on which they placed snacks or books they were reading while they were soaking in the hot water for hours on end.22 Later, a pavilion with cabins was built, like everywhere else. The countryside around the town was very pretty, and the visitors had many choices for excursions. It took a long time for news or fashions from Paris to

Secret diplomacy  199 reach this haven of peace, so for every season the spa visitors elected a ‘queen’, a lady whom everyone admired and imitated. She dictated the fashions and the pastimes of the season. These pastimes sufficed for the visitors in the first half of the century. Napoleon III suffered from a bouquet of painful problems: bladder stones, gout, rheumatism and hemorrhoids, so he had an understandable interest in encouraging the growth of Plombierès. In July 1857, he was present at the laying of a new watering pavilion, Les Nouveaux Thermes. The pavilion, completed in 1861, boasted 68 cabins with various types of showers: Tivoli (hot), Scottish, rain shower, oblique shower and massaging shower. There were also facilities for baths and steam baths, hydrotherapy, inhalation, drinking and several varieties of enemas and douches. The cabins opened into the vast, richly decorated Salon of Lost Steps where guests strolled on rainy days.23 Later, covered passages connected the salon to the Grand hotels on both sides of the pavilion. But in 1857 Napoleon stayed in a private house, for lodgings were scant. When his wife suddenly decided to follow him to Plombierès, her retinue wondered where she would stay. A year after, his physicians again recommended he spend a few weeks in Plombières ‘far from the maelstrom of business, in a semi-retreat, which was very favourable to maturing his ideas and plans’ during solitary walks.24 That was how the pretty little spa came to be the place of the fateful interview between Emperor Napoleon III and the Piedmont-Sardinian Prime Minister Count di Cavour.

Napoleon at Plombières In the summer of 1858, the emperor stayed in a chalet built since his previous visit. The curious reporters sneaked into the imperial residence and reported that furniture was made of varnished roots of vines, the ceiling was of coloured wood laid in mosaic and the view from the emperor’s study was delightful. As they were telling each other amidst giggles that they were sitting on the same chairs that the emperor sat on, suddenly the host appeared in the doorway. Seeing strangers, he retreated at once. The visitors made to escape, but an imperial aide came to tell them that the emperor overheard their comments, found them amusing and asked them to stay on, as he was not going to use the room just then.25 Newspapers reported daily on the emperor’s routine. He took baths, which were said to have been very beneficial. Reporters were not privy to medical information, but the fact that the emperor took two long walks every day in any weather seemingly demonstrated that he was in excellent health. At midday he worked and received despatches from Paris.26 He received only the persons whom he summoned. The newspapers marvelled at the petitioners from all over France who kept streaming into Plombières in the hopes of an audience: did these people not realize that his doctors prohibited the emperor to receive anyone?27 At 4 pm a military band began to play in the alley built for the local residents on Napoleon’s orders.28 The emperor strolled there and sometimes even sat down on a bench because the tactful crowd never approached him or disturbed him by

200  Business of Europe curiosity.29 One day in the park he ran into four veteran soldiers of Napoleon’s army and gave each a hundred gold francs to remember him by. He paid for the reconstruction of the local church and was pleasantly surprised by the news that the builders found a stone with an engraved inscription saying that it had been placed at the laying of the church by Napoleon’s own late brother as a child, when he was visiting the place with their mother Queen Hortense.30 While the church was in repair, Napoleon ordered that a Sunday divine service should be held in the open. His cousin on his mother’s side, the Duchess of Hamilton, was present, and the prettiest of the spa ladies presented the emperor with an address and flowers, while white doves were seen overflying the enthusiastic crowd.31 Wherever he showed himself, in the midst of a cavalcade in splendid uniforms, peasants lined up along his path, many kneeling and making signs of the cross.32 Press reports constantly reminded French society of the Bonapartes’ ties to provincial France’s history and of the continuity between Napoleon I and Napoleon III. The reports of his strolling and meeting joyous crowds offset the stories about attempts of assassination, the latest being the nearly successful Orsini plot in February 1858.

Cavour Orsini attempted to assassinate Napoleon for allegedly having failed to keep his promise to free Italy. The emperor’s near escape from death was supposed to have shaken the emperor out of his indecision. In reality, Napoleon had been secretly preparing for an Italian campaign which, he knew would meet with opposition from his ministers. At the time, the Habsburgs ruled over many of the Italian states and towns and in the era of nationalism Italians claimed that they were one nation and had to be one state. The ambition of Piedmont’s prime minister, Camillo Cavour, was a new Italian state that would be ruled by the kings of Piedmont-Sardinia, the Savoy dynasty. The idea of Italian unity did not inspire him33 until he saw it would help him achieve his goal. He abhorred Italian revolutionaries but understood that Italians would rally to his flag if he recruited the support of the popular leaders. At an appropriate moment, he declared that Piedmont-Sardinia would fight for Italy’s liberation and unification. During the 1856 Paris peace conference, he realized that the French ministers were opposed to his plans, although Napoleon III would support him. Cavour declared that ‘Europe wishes for peace: we are not going to be the ones to disturb it’.34 Meanwhile, he prepared for the future war by building railroads and working on public opinion in France, which was lukewarm to the idea of Italian unification. For his future war, Cavour needed friendly relations with Russia and buttressed them by visiting the members of the Russian imperial family vacationing in Nice (then a Piedmont town).35 On Napoleon’s advice, Cavour offered Russia use of the Piedmont Mediterranean port, Villa Franca, as a coaling station for their men-of-war. The aged Metternich, watching Cavour’s deft moves, said at

Secret diplomacy  201 the time: ‘Diplomacy is disappearing; there is now in Europe only one diplomat and unfortunately he is against us: it is Monsieur di Cavour’.36

Preliminaries of the visit In May 1858, Cavour heard from Prince Napoleon that the emperor had ‘propositions which cannot be discussed either in a letter or by means of diplomatic agents’. Cavour sent his secretary Constantino Nigra to Paris with a letter for Napoleon’s old friend Dr. Conneau, suggesting that the emperor might send instructions to Turin with the doctor, as he did in the past.37 He gave Nigra a set of coded phrases for telegraphic correspondence from Paris: Conneau is not informed of the project. – Let my family know that I have arrived in Paris without difficulty. The Emperor confirms the propositions. – Would Your Excellency let my wife know that I am well. … The Emperor does not confirm the propositions – Let them know at my house that I am well… Doctor Conneau is coming to Turin. – I expect to leave soon. …38 On 9 May, Nigra sent Cavour a telegram: ‘Would your Excellency let my wife know that I am well.’ In May Dr. Conneau visited Turin and told Cavour that at the end of June Napoleon would go to Plombières for a month-long cure. He could meet with Cavour there, in secret from his foreign minister.39 The emperor wanted to discuss three points: the marriage of Prince Napoleon with King Victor’s daughter, war with Austria and the Kingdom of Upper Italy.40 On 29 June Napoleon left for the spa. A week later Cavour wrote to his Parisian friend, Mme. de Circourt, an affectionate and insincere answer to her invitation to spend some time at her country estate: If I went to France now … my voyage would give rise to comments. … After end of the parliament session I will go to Switzerland to breathe the fresh mountain air, away from the men who only think of politics … I plan to stop for a few days at Pressinge, as I am sure that nobody will suppose that I conspire with my good friends the De La Rives against the world’s peace.41 On 11 July, Cavour inspected the construction of the tunnel of Mont-Cenis, which was going to shorten the journey from Piedmont to France, and continued on to Geneva, where he found a letter from the emperor’s aide-de-camp, General Yvelin de Beville: ‘His Majesty …will be charmed to receive you at Plombières. … He leaves to Your Excellency all dispositions over the timing of your visit, provided it be before the 24th of this month’.42 He spent five more days in Switzerland and had parties organized in his honour, so that newspapers would

202  Business of Europe write about his Swiss vacation. On the 18th, accompanied by his secretary, he travelled to the meeting. He was travelling as Guiseppe Benso (his full name was Camillo Benso Count di Cavour).

The Plombières interview On the evening of 20 July, Cavour arrived at Plombières filled with a fashionable crowd that followed the emperor to the spa. A modestly dressed plump, short man in glasses with a round beard, he could easily be taken for a bourgeois, and so his arrival passed unnoticed. The hotels were full and Cavour, failing to find lodgings, thought that he would have to sleep under the sky, but finally he managed to get a room at an old ramshackle house and at once went to sleep. After midnight he was awakened by General de Beville who had been looking for the Italian guest all over the town. Embarrassed by finding the emperor’s guest in a dump, the aide offered to give up his own bed at the chalet to Cavour, but the count politely refused.43 On 21 July at 11 am Cavour entered the cabinet of Emperor Napoleon III. There were no witnesses to their discussion, and the only sources for it are Cavour’s two subsequent letters, one to his king and the other to the Sardinian war minister. The emperor told Cavour that he had decided to support Piedmont, as long as its cause was not revolutionary, and Cavour found a pretext for the war to persuade diplomats and public opinion. The count suggested that Piedmont could accuse Austria of not fulfilling its part of the commercial treaty, but Napoleon objected that a trivial commercial issue did not justify a war to change the map of Europe. Cavour ventured another idea: Austria’s domination of Italy was illegitimate. Napoleon answered that as long as French troops were occupying Rome, he could not very well demand that Austrian troops should leave Bologna. They went through the Italian states one by one, to find one that could provide a pretext for war. Finally, they came across the names of Massa and Carrara – the most miserable of the Italian provinces. Cavour was certain that their population could be persuaded to start a petition addressed to King Victor Emmanuel asking for his protection. The king would, of course, decline the petition but would ask their ruler, the Duke of Modena, to introduce reforms to alleviate the condition of his people. The duke, known for his arrogance, almost certainly would refuse to obey the orders from Piedmont. Then the Piedmont army would march to defend the honour of their king. They agreed about Italy’s future organization. The House of Savoy would rule the kingdom of Upper Italy (Piedmont, Lombardy, Venetia, the Romagna and the Legations); the Kingdom of Central Italy (Tuscany and Papal States, except the Patrimony of St. Peter) would go to the Duchess of Parma. The pope would rule over Rome. Napoleon said that he wanted Savoy and Nice as his reward for the campaign. They agreed that the political situation was favourable: England would not be involved in a continental war; Prussia – because of its hostility to Austria – would be neutral; Russia promised Napoleon a free hand against

Secret diplomacy  203 Austria. They agreed that Napoleon would lead a 200,000-man army into Italy, and the king of Piedmont would raise 100,000. France would provide all the weaponry and finances.44 In the middle of the discussion, Napoleon’s aide came in with a telegram. The emperor read it and said, smiling, ‘Here [the foreign minister] Walewski is announcing me that you are here’!45 After lunch Napoleon let Cavour take an hour’s break and invited him for a ride at 4 pm. Napoleon himself drove an elegant phaeton drawn by two horses, and a groom rode behind them, outside the hearing distance. When they were going through the rolling green countryside Napoleon spoke about his desire to clinch their deal by having his cousin, Prince Napoleon, marry the daughter of King Victor Emmanuel, Clotilde. Cavour came with the king’s instructions to oppose this marriage unless it became the condition of the alliance. The princess only became 15 a few months before, and Prince Napoleon was an aging libertine. The emperor protested that his cousin was much better than his reputation, for he had a very good heart, as demonstrated by his loyalty to friends and especially to his mistresses. Cavour promised to discuss the question with his king,46 and early in the evening he left Plombières.

The aftermath When he crossed the French border, the count tore up his false passport47 and as Count Cavour went to Baden-Baden. To commit Napoleon III in front of Europe, he made no secret of the fact that he had met with the emperor, and the secretary of Grand Duchess Elena wrote to a friend: ‘We saw Count de Cavour in Baden, on his way back from Plombières. Very gay, very sweet, chatty, amiable’.48 At Baden-Baden, Cavour satisfied himself that Prussia and Russia would not support Austria in case of a war. Moreover, the Grand Duchess Elena told him that if war broke out between France and Austria, Russia might even enter on France’s side.49 After a day of visits and discussions with the statesmen and royalty, Cavour wrote a short letter to the war minister and a 40-page report to the king. The letters summed up the results of the interview. After explaining to the war minister the points of the settlement, he concluded: I left Plombières in very serene spirits. If the King consents to the marriage I am confident, let me say almost certain, that within two years you will enter Vienna at the head of our victorious columns. Still, so as to make sure of the bases of the hopes manifested to me by the Emperor concerning the probable stances of the great powers in the event of a war with Austria, I thought I would come take a cure in Baden where the run-down kings, princes, and ministers of the various countries of Europe are to be found. That was a good inspiration, for within twenty-four hours I had talked with the King of Württemberg, the Prince Regent of Prussia, with the Grand Duchess Helena, with Manteuffel [the Prussian chief of staff] and with various other Russian and German diplomats.50

204  Business of Europe Cavour did his best to persuade Victor Emmanuel to agree to his daughter’s marriage because there was no other way of tying Napoleon III to this secret deal. He argued at length that the marriage would be no worse than the marriages of other princesses of the Savoy dynasty. Prince Napoleon, despite his dreadful reputation, was not necessarily bad husband material: he demonstrated his goodness of heart when he travelled all the way to Cannes in order to bid farewell to his dying former mistress.51 Besides, the emperor ‘does not forget a favour, nor forgive an insult’.52 Refusal would be particularly offensive to Napoleon because of his family’s dubious position with regard to other royal dynasties. On 31 July Cavour was back in Turin. King Victor accepted Napoleon’s terms and asked his daughter to marry the French emperor’s cousin. She answered that she would not give her final answer until she met the prince. No one knew what took place during the Plombières interview. A Turin newspaper Opinione made a safe guess that Cavour and Napoleon discussed the general situation in Europe;53 The Standard reported, hopefully, that the emperor ‘earnestly impressed upon the Sardinian Premier the necessity of great moderation and circumspection in his foreign policy, especially towards Naples and Austria’54 – the policy that Lord Palmerston strongly recommended.

Diplomatic preparation In September 1858, once again secretly, Napoleon sent his cousin Prince Napoleon from Biarritz to Warsaw to warn Alexander II that he was going to attack Austria in the spring of 1859. Napoleon offered to Russia a defensive and offensive alliance. Russia suggested a treaty of benevolent neutrality instead, which Napoleon accepted.55 Now Napoleon informed his government about his plans. They opposed him,56 but he had already set things in motion. In Turin, Victor Emmanuel opened a session of parliament, declaring that he heard ‘weeping and groaning from everywhere in Italy’.57 Prince Napoleon arrived in Turin in January 1859 and sent a ciphered telegram to Paris: Arrived yesterday at 3 pm. Very warm reception from the population. Yesterday the king very embarrassed, society agitated, tonight conversation with Count Cavour; discussed and explained the situation. He understood and will act correctly. In the morning everything went well. Saw princess: well. Reciprocal impression good. The king very well. Send at once General Niel to request her hand officially.58 On 29 January 1859 a Franco-Piedmont treaty was ratified. The next day Prince Napoleon married Princess Clotilde. The implications of the marriage were obvious, and newspapers declared that France and Piedmont had decided to drive Austria out of Italy.59 When Napoleon and Cavour advanced their respective armies towards the borders of Austria, on 23 April 1859 the Austrian foreign minister demanded that Piedmont disarm. The ultimatum was rejected and war began. The French and

Secret diplomacy  205 Piedmontese armies defeated Austrian troops in several battles. An insurrection broke out in Hungary, and Austria sued for peace. Napoleon accepted at once because of the human and financial costs and because Prussia was mobilizing in order to offer ‘mediation’ – which meant it would demand compensation for staying out of the war. In July Francis-Joseph II and Napoleon III agreed on peace terms without consulting Piedmont. Austria retained Venice and several other territories. Napoleon took Lombardy, which he would transfer to Piedmont. Savoy and Nice were annexed by France. Cavour resigned in disgust at the French treachery. Napoleon made a ceremonial entry into Paris at the head of his army and took a deserved rest in Plombières and in Biarritz.

Biarritz It was known in Europe that ‘the medical advisers of the Emperor and Empress have recommended annually a separation of a few weeks’.60 He wanted a rest from his jealous and demanding consort and went to Vichy or Plombières; she needed a rest from her jealousy and went to Biarritz, where her husband joined her in the early autumn. In the 1850s, imperial patronage helped transform a little fishing village into a fashionable resort: Les Bains Napoleon were built, as was a casino, a somewhat bizarre building imitating a medieval fortress with casements and a crenellated tower. In 1855, a railroad joined Biarritz to Bayonne, making travel easier. By the end of the century, 12 daily trains shuttled between the resort and Bayonne. The streets and roads were paved and trees planted. The place boasted excellent

Figure 8.1  B  iarritz Casino and Baths (rebuilt after fire). Courtesy of Gravures Department, Russian National Library.

206  Business of Europe drinking water: no typhus or cholera had ever struck the residents, and even the usual winter flu was benign in Biarritz. Like all resorts, it was shielded from cold winds and brusque drops of temperature by the hills. Everyone slept and ate better after a stay at the seaside. Biarritz seasons were recommended for treating anemia, fatigue and intellectual overstimulation, as well as neurasthenia, rickets and whooping cough (which disappeared after two to three days of breathing the seaside air). Sea-bathing was also prescribed for those recovering from bad colds, suffering from rheumatism, and experiencing gynecological, cardiovascular and kidney problems.61

Empress Eugenie at Biarritz In 1859, Villa Eugenie was built for the empress at some distance from the town. The large rectangular building surrounded by an English garden and including a box for petitions attached to the gate stood at the water’s edge, and at high tides the sea reached it. A lawn sloped towards a beach, which separated the villa from Hotel Gardères and the casino. The beach was closed to public access by a ha-ha (a sunken stone wall) and a sturdy wooden railing that ran all around it. The fashionable world gathered on the beach in the afternoons to hear a regimental band play and to show off their extravagant and colourful costumes. They could often see the empress and her child. The little Prince Imperial took exercise on the beach and played with a few carefully selected children of his age.62 When the weather in Aix-les-Bains, Ischl and Carlsbad was already getting cool, it was still warm and sunny in Biarritz, so European aristocracy followed the empress there to end the season they had begun elsewhere. The French and the Spanish came in summer, the Russians in the fall and the English and ­Americans in winter and spring. Biarritz became ‘the queen of beaches and the beach of kings’. People arrived expecting ‘refreshing scandal and vivacious flirtations’. Every man who visited Biarritz commented on the number of beautiful and elegant women to be seen. The women one met here – and the contemporaries emphasized it was a women’s paradise – were the richest and the most elegant. ‘There is a multitude of ladies of all ranks and all virtues and in the most extraordinary toilets’,63 an elderly visitor reported. It was ‘the salt paradise of married women’, for at Biarritz they outshone young unmarried girls in men’s eyes. ‘I find unmarried girls insipid,’ a gentleman confessed. Unlike Paris, ladies walked in the streets, rode donkeys, took ice cream and coffee in the open air, laughed, chatted at the traditional Biarritz table d’hôte breakfasts at ten in the morning. The town was so small that no one needed carriages; even Empress Eugenie went for walks.64 Visitors marvelled at the variety of shops in the small town: even Turkish and Chinese merchants found their way to the resort.65 Some people took excursions to Bayonne, half an hour away by omnibus, and on the way visited the convent des Anglettes, where the nuns sold for moderate prices their wonderful embroideries.

Secret diplomacy  207 In daytime there were promenades with champagne and lunches on the sand or on the grass. In the evening, there were dinners in the private rooms of Hotel Garderet or balls, theatre performances and concerts at the casino. The fashionable composer of waltzes Emile Waldteufel and his brother were in charge of the casino ballroom. The casino had a musical salon, a billiards room, a ‘conversation’ and a gambling salon. Since gambling was officially prohibited in France, the salon was discreetly situated in a distant corner of the casino building and poorly furnished.66 Sea-bathing was the main attraction of Biarritz. It continued from May till late October, especially because many visitors came from colder climes. To supplement the local seawater, a different kind of water was brought over from nearby Briscous to the luxury bathing establishment on the golden beach.67 Local Basque women bathed in the sea without undressing and in their large straw hats. They took their shoes off and, holding their skirts up, waded into the water up to their knees.68 In contrast, society people wore elaborate bathing costumes, which in the midcentury excited much interest and debate in nearby Britain. In Britain sea-bathing for ladies was still rare, and no one was quite sure what the correct wear was for such activities. The French had the problem well in hand. At Biarritz, a British reporter saw ‘gentlemen walking down to the water with their wives on their arms and their daughters following them’. Both before and after bathing, the French strolled up and down the beach, chatted to their acquaintances and all this, without any awkwardness on either side, although they were wearing their bathing costumes.69 ‘At Biarritz a gentleman asks a lady to swim with him in the morning just as readily as he would invite her to waltz at night,’ a newspaper marvelled and asked its readers why was it impossible in England without producing all-round embarrassment and mocking comments.70 Most bathers came to the beach at 4 pm when water was the warmest. Ladies sat on chairs, gentlemen circulated, children ran back and forth, followed by their nannies; bathing ladies walked to and from the water, gentlemen observed them through lorgnettes. Men bathers wore loose, baggy trousers and a skirted Garibaldi jacket of the same fabric. Ladies wore ‘a simple Bloomer costume’, consisting of a jacquet and loose trousers reaching to the ankle, slippers and a straw hat to protect their complexions.71 Parents or nannies put the children into the water with gourds fixed to their shoulders and left them to float.

Napoleon III and Eugenie at the seaside The imperial couple appearing together in Biarritz presented to society a picture of family life that differed considerably from the one their courtiers observed. ‘The emperor has got a new mistress at Biarritz,’ the director of the Louvre, Count de Viel-Castel, recorded in his diary one year: ‘she is a young, elegant woman and an excellent horsewoman. …’ The courtiers were concerned because after a night with this amazon the next day Napoleon III felt unwell and almost fainted in the afternoon.72

208  Business of Europe After strenuous exercise at night, Napoleon avoided taking baths in daytime and either rode – he was a very good horseman – or drove his phaeton. The empress began sea-bathing immediately after her arrival and was seen every morning at ten to emerge from her bathing hut and stand in the waves, bending so that water would run over her.73 Like her husband, she liked to drive her own phaeton pulled by a pair of cream-coloured ponies. In the afternoons she strolled on the beach. Straight as an arrow, slowly dragging her immense skirts on the fine sand, leaning on her lace parasol, or using it to shield herself from the wind, the empress passed through the crowd and greeted the people right and left by inclining her head automatically. Her vague smile, royalty’s signature trait, was addressed to no one so that everyone could take it as being addressed to oneself.74 Newspapers praised her for mixing with her subjects and commented on her habit of holding a little court on the beach, prior to bathing. ‘She freely enters into conversation, compliments the ladies’.75 It was all a job. In the moments of weariness, she complained that those who think that kings are surrounded by flatterers only see one-half of it: to win the general goodwill, kings are forced to flatter everyone around them: ‘At Court all the young girls are pretty, all the gowns are exquisite, every artist is a genius. It is the fate of princes to be forced to admire everything and everybody’.76 She drew a line between these public episodes and spending her life in public, and in 1865 a chapel built in the grounds of her villa allowed her and the court to remain in the enclosure on Sundays instead of attending the town church.

Politics at Biarritz Every year the announcement of Napoleon’s departure for Biarritz was followed by two movements in the world of politics: the diplomatic corps also left Paris for watering places or their country seats. Petitioners, exiled monarchs, wealthy foreigners and agents of foreign governments followed Napoleon. In September 1858, two leaders of the opposite political factions in the Danube Principalities went to Biarritz, one of them reportedly with 10 million francs in his pocket,77 to see who they could recruit to support their claims. The Prussian minister and his wife left for Biarritz to take sea baths and perhaps pick up rumours. Meanwhile, the well-informed ambassadors of France’s allies Piedmont and Russia took their well-deserved rest elsewhere. Napoleon, his wife and his son arrived in the second week of September 1865. From the new train station they proceeded along the short road that led into Biarritz, in open carriages with the household guards preceding them. The crowds had been waiting for hours, standing on both sides of the road and on the balconies of the houses. Biarritz was full of people from every corner of Europe. All the lodging houses and hotels were full, and many visitors at night returned to sleep in the nearby town of Bayonne. It was animated and gay as always when the royals were present.78 The weather was unseasonably hot in daytime, but two weeks later mornings and evenings were cooler and the ‘queens of fashion’ gathered on the beach every night to enjoy seeing the

Secret diplomacy  209 tide come in79 and watching the French ironclad squadron that appeared in the bay soon after the emperor’s arrival and lay at anchor at a distance from the shore.80 The Spanish Queen Isabella II was staying right across the border at San Juan de Luz, and the close neighbourhood obligated the monarchs to exchange visits. Napoleon III visited Isabella and she at once returned his visit. All the hotels in Biarritz were filled on the day of her arrival. Along the road she followed, people were standing, sitting on hired chairs or even perching on garden walls.81 After this visit the public part of Napoleon’s Biarritz stay was over and the imperial couple was on a vacation. The empress took baths, the emperor strolled. Both were beaming with health and in excellent mood. When newspapers announced that the head of the Prussian government, Count von Bismarck, would visit Biarritz in October, the editor of an important Parisian newspaper, the Constitutionnel, was on his way there. So was the Prussian minister to France, Count von der Goltz. This meant that there would be political interviews. Bismarck made it known that he was coming with his family for health reasons. He had loved Biarritz since his first visit in 1862, but his 1865 visit, like his busy shuttling between spas in 1864, was purely political, aimed at tying the knots in the enormous net that he would then use to pull in the prize fish: unified Germany. Taking a page from the late Cavour’s book, he was preparing a German-style risorgimiento. As Austria-Hungary opposed his course for a German unification under Prussia a war was inevitable, and he wanted to ensure Napoleon’s neutrality when it came. Indeed, Napoleon III was not finished with redrawing the map of Europe, and a year after the war with Austria, his foreign minister told the Russian ambassador in Berlin that Turkey was ‘a perfectly rotten corpse’ and that for Russia ‘the Orient is the same as Italy is for us, the field which you are naturally called to enter’.82 But Russia was determined to stay out of foreign adventures because the government was involved in a series of crucial domestic reforms. Prussia’s envisioned campaign might once again allow Napoleon to fish in the muddied waters, so he looked forward to Bismarck’s visit.

Biarritz interview of 1865 Bismarck spent most of the summer of 1865 between Carlsbad and Bad Gastein. In Carlsbad, he talked with his banker and financial agent Gerson von Bleichröder about securing the financial side of the coming war with Austria. Bleichröder left Carlsbad with instructions to find banks that would lend money to Prussia. Still from Carlsbad Bismarck demanded that Austria cede Schleswig-Holstein to Prussia for a monetary compensation.83 At the end of July, Bismarck accompanied William I to Gastein for his usual post-cure and a meeting with Francis-Joseph II. Bismarck negotiated with the Austrian representative Count Blome a new settlement for the Schleswig-­Holstein duchies that were in joint Austro-Prussian condominium. As long as King

210  Business of Europe William was still a guest in Austria and the money not yet in his war chest, Bismarck did not want to spoil the atmosphere and was friendly. After the king left, Bismarck became more aggressive. At night he played cards with the Austrian to scare him by the violence of his gambling – and make him believe that he was equally reckless in politics. Meanwhile, Bleichröder had formed a consortium with the Rothschilds and von Oppenheims, a Cologne banking family, to let Prussia finance the war. Blome accepted Bismarck’s terms, and on 14 August 1865 the Gastein convention was signed. Bismarck’s secretary Heinrich Abeken concluded: ‘This meeting is a guarantee of peace for this year at all events’.84 Sir Robert Morier wrote to his chief: ‘I think that a pretty safe guess may be made at the real meaning of the Gastein convention. … The Austrian cabinet lives from hand to mouth and from one day to the other, sees only the danger of the day and concentrates its attention upon it,’ and therefore, Morier concluded, Austria tried to make sure that Prussia did not attack Denmark without Austria’s participation.85 The French foreign ministry officially condemned the Gastein arrangement86 for cynically using force to achieve selfish interests. At the same time, the Prussian minister in Paris reported that Napoleon expressed his regret at the hostile terms of his ministry’s circular. Such discrepancy was tantamount to an invitation for Bismarck to negotiate France’s attitude in the coming war.87

Figure 8.2  R ichard Doyle, “After you”. Napoleon III and Bismarck hesitating to accept the invitation of Peace, 1867. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction number: LC-USZC2-480.

Secret diplomacy  211 When newspapers announced that Bismarck was going to Biarritz for sea-bathing, they reminded their readers that Napoleon had extended his stay at the resort far beyond the usual time and left the readers to connect the two facts.88 With the Plombières interview in mind, the observers correctly assumed that Bismarck wanted to get the emperor’s promise of neutrality in the Austro-Prussian War for the Duchies in exchange for Prussia’s consent to the French annexation of Belgium or the Rhine German provinces.89

Biarritz in 1865 The emperor knew Bismarck personally, for he had recently been the Prussian minister to Paris, and a visit of courtesy was obligatory when they both were in Biarritz, but three visits spoke of more than courtesy. Napoleon and Bismarck met on 4, 8 and 11 October in the morning and strolled on the terrace and in the gardens overlooking the sea and the Pyrenees. Although Bismarck’s arrival was expected and even desired at Biarritz, the emperor was slightly apprehensive about meeting the Prussian for, as a contemporary put it, ‘the light surrounding him was not at all celestial’.90 Bismarck’s tactic was ‘brutal, disarming honesty mingled with the wiles and deceits of a confidence man’.91 The deceits were wrapped in the manner of a blunt straight-talking country squire. On the eve of the Austro-Prussian War, the Austrian ambassador asked Bismarck point blank if he was going to break the treaty of peace with Austria. Bismarck answered: ‘No, I have not that expectation; but if I had, would I answer you differently?92 During negotiations Bismarck used to describe his plans, mixing truth and wild exaggerations, which his listeners summarily dismissed as ridiculous and ceased to take him seriously. Then he asked: ‘If we take this, what will you take?” Usually, his interlocutor answered in the conventional coy manner ‘Us? We want nothing!’93 It was an invitation to Bismarck to offer compensation. Bismarck explained his plans for the 1866 campaign at the emperor’s lunch table. He said that Prussia would form an alliance with Italy; then it would attack and defeat Austria and unify Germany. France would be able to annex new territories.94 Bismarck also threw in entirely fantastic ideas: France might take Belgium and part of Switzerland; an alliance of Berlin-Paris- Florence might be a good idea. Russia would be isolated and forced to focus on Asia. Napoleon listened in silence.95 To his entourage he said later: ‘M. de Bismarck came to offer me all the things that are not his own’.96 But he was tempted. Napoleon wanted to regain prestige in and out of France.97 In 1859, he stopped before Venice and left it to the Habsburgs. In 1863 he tried to force Russia to accept a European congress to decide on the fate of Poland and failed once again. Bismarck seemed to offer him a new opportunity to play the honourable and profitable role of Europe’s arbiter. As a French author said, wistfully, had Napoleon been a constitutional monarch, his foreign minister would not have left him alone with Bismarck.98 But then, Napoleon negotiated in Biarritz precisely because he wanted to keep his foreign minister out. As they strolled in the park, they were accompanied only by the elderly Prosper Merimée, the

212  Business of Europe author of the celebrated Carmen and a friend of the imperial family. Napoleon suffered from rheumatism and was leaning on a handsome cane that once belonged to his uncle Napoleon I. Its handle was made in the shape of an eagle clawing the globe.99 Bismarck told Napoleon that Prussia would compensate France for its neutrality in the coming war by letting France annex Luxembourg. The emperor waved away the offer, implying that it was too insignificant a price. When Bismarck pressed him to say what he wanted, Napoleon hinted on Belgium. This would put all of Prussian Rhineland under threat, but a refusal might bring France on the Austrian side against Prussia. Bismarck neither agreed nor disagreed, and Napoleon did not insist, preferring to wait and see the outcome of the Austro-Prussian War.100 From time to time, he squeezed Merimée’s arm and whispered ‘He’s crazy!’101 Napoleon concluded that the war would benefit France: it would be long and hard on both sides, and then he would step in at the last moment, when both adversaries were exhausted, and get Luxembourg, Belgium and perhaps more.102 He told Bismarck that he would not interfere in Prussia’s war with Austria but that he expected compensation.103 (Bismarck contemptuously called this tactic ‘a policy of tips’, saying that the emperor wanted to be compensated for others’ wars.104 ) Bismarck’s conclusions were: Napoleon expected a long-drawn-out war, so Prussia had to aim at a blitzkrieg. Its army should act on the Rhine before Napoleon was ready and, after the first Prussian victory, present Austria with acceptable peace terms. Contemporaries always compared Cavour to Bismarck as two state-builders on a large scale, and the memory of Plombières haunted European journalists in late 1865. Much later the witnesses to the Biarritz meeting realized the difference between the two interviews: Cavour had come to see what he could do with Napoleon, while Bismarck wanted to see what he could do without him. The negotiations were Bismarck’s victory: he obtained France’s neutrality ‘by specious hopes and allurements which were not destined to be fulfilled’.105

After Biarritz The publicized Biarritz meetings were meant to provoke Austria by creating a semblance of an entente between Prussia and France. Bismarck intentionally strengthened the impression: soon after, the French and the Prussian ambassadors received awards.106 German newspapers maintained that Bismarck only discussed ‘general subjects’ with Napoleon. By December, these repeated protestations had persuaded everyone that Prussia was preparing to seize the duchies while France would get a compensation for remaining neutral.107 Just as he had said in Biarritz, Bismarck made a secret military alliance with Italy. He guaranteed to Victor Emmanuel that no matter how Italy fared in the war, Venice would be Italy’s. If the king refused his terms, he would make a deal with the Italian revolutionaries Mazzini and Garibaldi.108 On 8 April 1866, Italy and Prussia signed a treaty. On 16 June, Prussia and Italy attacked Austria.

Secret diplomacy  213 Various German states sided with Austria against the aggressor. The Italian army was beaten on 24 June at Custozza, but on 3 July the Prussian army defeated Austria and its allies at Sadowa. William I and his generals planned to march on Vienna, but Bismarck argued that if they continued fighting, Napoleon would invade Rhineland,109 and Prussia quickly made peace with Austria. On 16 August, the French ambassador in Berlin, Count Benedetti, received instructions to talk to Bismarck about the annexation of the regions that they had discussed and a secret defensive-offensive alliance.110 Bismarck asked Benedetti to jot down for him the interests of the French government. When Bismarck had the document in his hand he terminated the negotiations, saying that his king had not yet considered the issue. Benedetti’s draft became Bismarck’s secret weapon to be used against Napoleon at the right moment.111

Carlsbad and the vicinity: Buchlau in 1908 The French historian Pierre de la Gorce said that Napoleon got short-changed in Biarritz because he was neither a man of high probity nor an entirely unscrupulous one. A man of high probity would have turned down a shady deal and warned Bismarck against violating treaties; a partner in crime would have clearly stipulated what benefits he expected and got Bismarck’s specific promise. Napoleon vacillated between the two and lost moral prestige without gaining ‘vulgar profit’.112 Almost 40 years later, another ambitious statesman – this time at a Bohemian spa – fell into the same trap for the exact same reasons. The irony is all the greater because the man prided himself on his erudition and claimed to know everything there was to know about European diplomatic history. By 1907, the Austrian foreign minister, Alois von Aehrenthal, realized that Russia, Austria-Hungary’s Balkan partner since 1897, was distancing itself, and the Russian foreign minister, Aleksandr Iswolsky, now placed his hopes on Russia’s friendship with France and Britain. As the British ambassador to St. Petersburg reported, Iswolsky wanted to ‘gradually abandon the dual cooperation with Austria and to merge himself into the general concert’ of the Anglo-French Entente.113 If the Austro-Russian cooperation in the Balkans was doomed anyway, Aehrenthal decided to pursue Austrian interests without worrying overmuch about Russia’s reaction. Maintaining the status quo in the Balkans was not vital to Austria,114 and he prepared to alter it in Austria’s favour. Since the Berlin Congress of 1878, Austria had occupied and administered the Serb-populated Bosnia and Herzegovina provinces. To prevent their eventual union with Serbia, Aehrenthal decided to annex them – an infringement of the congress provisions – and began secret discussions to the effect with Iswolsky. As he was convinced that sharing confidential information with Iswolsky was paramount to informing the British,115 Aehrenthal presented his plan in hypothetical terms and took care to keep the specific details secret from Iswolsky. The Russian foreign minister and Nicholas II became interested. Iswolsky reasoned that Russia would gain nothing from opposing Aehrenthal’s intended move but might gain something by going along with him. Indeed, Russia could

214  Business of Europe

Figure 8.3  Aloys von Aehrenthal. Wikimedia Commons.

not very well oppose Aehrenthal because back in 1877 Alexander II had already given his secret consent to the annexation of the two provinces in exchange for Austrian neutrality in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 and Austria-Hungary had kept its part of the deal. Iswolsky could neither take back the promise nor ask Austrians for a second compensation. He decided to qualify this 1877 consent by various conditions that would compensate Russia’s Balkan client-states Serbia and Montenegro and by a request for Russia’s sake. Once Austria declared its intention to annex the provinces, the status quo existing in Europe since the Berlin Congress would be altered. The powers would need to meet and work out new terms of coexistence. At this moment, Iswolsky wanted to pressure them to allow the Black Sea Straits to be open to the egress of single Russian men-of-war into the Mediterranean. The request was modest, but it would allow Russia some control of the Black Sea Straits. Iswolsky thought that Russia’s ally, France, would support him; Britain had implied during

Secret diplomacy  215

Figure 8.4  A  leksandr Petrovich Iswolsky (right). Courtesy of the Archive of Imperial Russian F ­ oreign Policy.

the 1906–1907 negotiations that it might accept the change in the Straits regime favouring Russia. He counted on Italy’s support. If Aehrenthal did not oppose Russia’s desire, with four powers behind him Iswolsky would achieve his goal even if Turkey and Germany opposed Russia. No one at St. Petersburg knew about the negotiations except Nicholas II, Iswolsky, his vice-minister and the Austro-Hungarian ambassador. In July 1908, Iswolsky proposed to Aehrenthal Russia’s benevolent attitude in case of the annexation in exchange for Austria’s promise of support in altering the regime of the Straits in Russia’s favour. Because both the annexation and the Straits’ regime were European issues, Iswolsky had a European conference in mind. He assumed that it was Aehrenthal’s interest, too, but all Aehrenthal needed was Iswolsky’s consent to discuss the issue. When he learned that in September Iswolsky would come to Carlsbad for his usual cure,116 Aerenthal had an idea: to finalize the deal with Iswolsky then and

216  Business of Europe there. An improvised meeting during a spa cure looked like a courtesy visit, so Iswolsky would be off his guard. The country seat of the Austrian ambassador to Russia, Count Berchtold, was in the vicinity of Carlsbad. Iswolsky had already visited the charming Baroque castle of Buchlau (Buchlovice) the year before and liked it very much. So, Aehrenthal did not answer Iswolsky’s letter to keep him on tenterhooks. In the epoch of summer leaves, ministers were away and were not responding to letters that kept arriving at the ministry. Meanwhile, Aehrenthal wrote to Berchtold: I got your telegram about Iswolsky’s cure in Carlsbad and his subsequent trip to Vienna. … I would not want you to be the one to raise the subject. Iswolsky himself should tackle the issue of our interview before his departure. In this case you should hint that the best would be for us to meet after he finishes the cure in Carlsbad, that is, in early or mid September at your Buchlau castle. … I think that Iswolsky will accept your suggestion and then I will express my wish to meet him.117 Aehrenthal wanted to avoid the impression that he was anxious for the meeting. He wrote: I know for certain that Iswolsky hopes that I will take the initiative in setting up our meeting when he is in Austria. But I will not. I will be at home and he is the one who should express his wish or readiness to meet me. Please do not mention it to him. If he does, you will let me know. Then, in a friendly way, you will suggest Buchlau. … It would be good if you said that Buchlau was your idea and that you asked for my consent.118 To prod Iswolsky, on Aehrenthal’s cue several Austrian newspapers announced a pending meeting of the two ministers. Berchtold then explained to Iswolsky that the newspapers made the assumption after hearing that Iswolsky would be in Carlsbad. Iswolsky, as was expected, replied that indeed he was going to Carlsbad and that of course he would like to meet with the Austrian minister, but he could not go to Vienna because it might be taken amiss by Russian public opinion. Berchtold left St. Petersburg the day after Iswolsky had gone on his leave.119 He visited Aehrenthal at Semmering spa, and they had so much to discuss that Berchtold even stayed overnight. Next, Berchtold went to Carlsbad, and Aehrenthal travelled to Ischl, Salzburg and Berchtesgaden,120 summer retreats of the Austrian emperor, the Italian foreign minister and the German State Secretary to discuss the annexation. The meeting with Iswolsky would be the final stage of preparations. Iswolsky, meanwhile, was trying hard to lose weight at Carlsbad as he alternated dieting and taking waters with lunching and dining in the company of his colleagues and acquaintances from all over the world. Rumours of Aehrenthal’s intention to annex Bosnia and Herzegovina were spreading from Vienna. On 25

Secret diplomacy  217 August, Iswolsky told The Times correspondent in Marienbad that the rumoured annexation would contravene the Berlin treaty and therefore was only possible if a European conference authorized it.121 He wanted in this way to prepare public opinion for his subsequent call for a European conference. On 27 August, Aehrenthal sent a memorandum to Iswolsky at Carlsbad, with answers to his letter of 2 July. It sketched a new entente between the two countries and suggested that if circumstances made the Austrian annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina necessary, Russia would assume a favourable attitude to it. As for the Turkish Straits, the Austro-Hungarian government was ready to begin confidential and friendly discussions after the annexation.122 Aehrenthal sent copies to the emperor at Ischl and to the Russian ambassador in Vienna, Prince Urusov. He wrote to Berchtold: I will give the same text to Urusov on 1 September in order to emphasize that the affair should be settled without delay. You must also read the enclosed and tell Iswolsky that by this statement [of 1877] Russia is committed to the final occupation of the Sanjak [of Novi Bazar] and cannot object to it. This document is our instrument of pressure, but perhaps we shall not need to apply it. The messenger will remain in Carlsbad for as long as you need, that is, until you can send me Iswolsky’s answer.123 Berchtold came to Carlsbad, where Iswolsky was staying at the Hotel Cleopatra. At first, Iswolsky amiably said that he had always believed that Austria and Russia had to collaborate in order to avoid a conflagration in the Balkans. But then he flew into a temper as he recalled that the Austrian press was saying that the recent upheavals in the Balkans were due to Anglo-Russian intrigues. He correctly blamed Aehrenthal for these insinuations. Berchtold suspected that Iswolsky’s temper was frayed because of his dieting and Sprudel water cure he was undergoing. He remained calm and Iswolsky soon regained calm, too.124 They continued with a routine of lunches, theatre, courting pretty ladies and playing golf in the company of Clemenceau, King Edward and other acquaintances. Towards the end of Iswolsky’s cure, Berchtold’s wife came to Carlsbad and invited the minister to Buchlau. Two days later, Iswolsky wrote her accepting the invitation, and Berchtold wrote in his diary: ‘I am heartily glad that so desirable a meeting of the two statesmen will take place in this way despite all the personal susceptibilities de part et d’autre [on both sides]!’125 Count Berchtold came to Buchlau from Carlsbad at midnight on 14/15 September 1908 to check on preparations for the arrival of the guests. Because Aehrenthal was coming to Buchlau after having conferred with the emperor, the Italians and the Germans, the Buchlau meeting attracted much attention and several Austrian journalists were already in the vicinity, waiting.126 On 15 September in the evening, Aehrenthal arrived with his chief of cabinet and the Austrian ambassador in Rome. He told Berchtold confidentially that the annexation was already in the last stages of preparation. As a diversionary move, he had arranged with the Bulgarian Prince Ferdinand to declare independence from Turkey 48 hours before the Austrian annexation.

218  Business of Europe Two hours after Aehrenthal, the Russian guests arrived from the train station in Count Berchtold’s carriage. Aehrenthal greeted them on the terrace.127 Iswolsky arrived in a carefree holiday mood, accompanied by his friend, Elim Pavlovich Demidov, the first secretary of the Russian embassy in Vienna and a playboy. Not foreseeing any serious business, the minister had sent off his assistant, the director of the chancellery, Aleksandr Savinsky, telling him they would meet in Paris in a few weeks. After a merry dinner, the guests went to bed. The next morning the two ministers separately went out into the park for a walk. Berchtold watched from the window of his smoking room as they ran into each other near the fountain and kept walking side by side, at once engaging in a lively conversation. Back from the walk, they went into an old classroom and continued the conversation behind closed doors. At half-past twelve, Berchtold entered to invite them to lunch. He found the ministers in a heated argument. Iswolsky, standing next to the window, to prove a point, was reading aloud from the volume of documents, The Berlin Treaty, which the host had placed in the room. After lunch, the ministers took a drive in the country and conversed some more. When they bade farewell to each other in the afternoon, both were pleased with the discussions.128 Iswolsky asked for Austria’s support in trying to get the Straits’ regime changed, so that Russian men-of-war could pass singly through them. The Austrian said he did not mind it at all, since he also expected a small favour from Iswolsky. The Russian replied that he saw no problem with that.129 Aehrenthal promised to accommodate Iswolsky, if Iswolsky consented to the annexation. Iswolsky suggested that annexation of the Slav-populated provinces would be easier if Montenegro and Serbia were compensated by modest territorial gains.130 They agreed that the issues were to be sanctioned by a European conference. They did not exchange memoranda, and Aehrenthal did not tell Iswolsky when the annexation would take place. The Russian minister was led to believe that Aehrenthal would move after the conference authorized the annexation. It would allow Iswolsky time to rally support from Italy, Germany, France and Britain after completing his cure. Back in Carlsbad, Iswolsky, in a triumphant mood, wrote to Emperor Nicholas II that Austria had accepted his terms, and the next step was to organize a European conference to approve the pending changes, At this point, Nicholas informed his government of the negotiations. To the emperor’s surprise, the ministers, led by the Premier Petr Stolypin, declared that conniving with Austria to violate the Berlin treaty was unacceptable. Stolypin, who had just returned from Carlsbad, where he spent much time with Iswolsky, was incensed that the foreign minister had not breathed a word of his plans. While the deputy foreign minister Nikolai Tcharykov and Nicholas II were wondering how Russia’s consent to the Austrian act might be still turned to Russia’s advantage, Iswolsky began his tour of European capitals. Journalists had already guessed about the meaning of the Buchlau meeting. On 4 October, a famous Russian journalist, G. Wesselitsky, wrote from Baden-Baden:

Secret diplomacy  219 Austria-Hungary is going to risk the great adventure of annexation … in the hope that Turkey’s anger will fall on her accomplice Bulgaria. What should I make of the affirmations of German newspapers that Aleksandr Petrovich [Iswolsky] has approved the annexation that is opposed by London?131 On 4 October from Berlin, Iswolsky came to Paris and at the embassy found a letter from Aehrenthal waiting for him since 1 October. Aehrenthal informed him about the imminent annexation. It was an insulting breach of faith with Iswolsky: the ‘ally’ was the last one to be told about Aehrenthal’s decisive step. Even the French president already knew from the Austro-Hungarian ambassador. On 5 October, Bulgaria declared independence from the Ottoman Empire. The following day Vienna announced the annexation. Just as Aehrenthal had expected, the Great Powers accepted the Austrian coup, limiting themselves to a protest. Only Russia demanded a conference to discuss the violation of the Berlin treaty, but the Austrian ambassador in Paris told the French government that Aehrenthal had acted with Russia’s tacit agreement and explained what the terms of the deal were. No one agreed to call a conference to discuss Russia’s interest in changing the Straits regime. Iswolsky complained that he had gone to Buchlau thinking that he was on a holiday, visiting friends, and that he spoke about political issues academically, without making commitments or asking for any. He did not expect, he said, that the Austrians would try to impart a binding character to the meeting.132 He insisted that Aehrenthal had no right to say that Russia had approved his plans because they had not agreed at Buchlau about how Austria would proceed or about the timing and sequence of events.133 But the absence of memoranda and the fact of the Buchlau meeting spoke against him. Francis Joseph II made use of the ancient idea of ‘honour-bound’ monarchs and wrote to Nicholas II: ‘When your foreign minister gave us assurances my ministers could not believe that he was doing it on his own behalf and not on behalf of the imperial government, on your authorization’.134 Therefore, Russia was committed. Continuing protests from St. Petersburg might result in Aehrenthal publishing his pre-Buchlau correspondence with Iswolsky and the 1877 secret treaty, so official Petersburg fell silent. But Russian newspapers furiously attacked Austria-­Hungary for expansionism. In the Balkans, Serbia and Montenegro were becoming restive, for they had claims on the two Serb-populated provinces. The phantom of a Balkan war involving Russia and Austria-Hungary haunted European politicians. In March 1909, the German foreign minister officially asked Iswolsky to give a clear answer: did Russia accept the annexation or not? If not, Germany would give Austria a free hand, that is, permission to invade Serbia. Russia could not face a war and accepted the German ultimatum, thus ending the crisis. After this final humiliation that Iswolsky felt he had brought on his country, the minister wanted to resign, but his friends from the Russian embassy in London persuaded King Edward VII to ask his nephew, Nicholas II, to keep Iswolsky in his post, alleging that his dismissal would be a triumph for the rival

220  Business of Europe Austro-German bloc.135 Iswolsky lasted in his post two more lustreless years, during which he refused to talk to the Austrian ambassador and communicated with him only through verbal notes.136 Iswolsky was morally broken after the Bosnian crisis that remained associated with his name. He ended as the Russian ambassador in Paris, one of the most important diplomatic posts in Europe, but it was no consolation. He had dreamed of becoming the foreign minister who secured a favourable solution of the Straits issue but almost brought Russia into a European war. Berchtold was so proud of the Buchlau interview that he had a marble plaque placed on the wall of his castle with the date of the historic meeting. When, a few years later, he invited a Russian friend, Ekaterina Vsevolzhskaya, to Buchlau, he showed her the plaque and said, laughing: ‘You have to admit that we played a good joke on Iswolsky!’137 The ‘good joke’ ruined two reputations: in the eyes of their colleagues Iswolsky remained a dupe and Aehrenthal, a rogue. And, incidentally, Austro-Russian relations never recovered after the 1908 crisis.

Notes 1 S. Korff, The Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire in the Last Half Century (New York: Macmillan, 1922), 210. 2 Korff, 210. 3 M. du Camp, Souvenirs d’un demi-siècle, 1:132. 4 F. Guizot to Princess E. Kochoubey, 24.3.1860, BA, Belosselsky-Belozersky Papers. 5 R.N. Gildea, ‘Napoleon III by William H.C. Smith’, The English Historical Review 99 (July 1984), 392:579–580. 6 A.F. Budberg to A.M. Gorchakov, 13/25.5.1860, AVPRI, 340–585–18, ll.109–117. 7 P.D. Kiselev to A.M. Gorchakov, (draft) [1857], AVPRI, 340–585–12, ll.53–56. 8 Grand Duke Constantine to Alexander II, 21.4/3.5.1857, L. Zakharova (ed.), Perepiska imperatora Aleksandra II s Velikim kniazem Constantinom Nikolaevichem (Moscow: Terra, 1994), 42. 9 O. Airapetov, Vneshnniaa politika Rossiiskoi imperii (1814–1914) (Moscow: Europa, 2006), 222–223. 10 Grand Duke Constantine to Alexander II, 21.4/3.5.1857, Perepiska, 41. 11 A. F. Budberg to A.M. Gorchakov, 13/25.5.1860, AVPRI, 340–585–18, ll.109–117. 12 du Camp, 146–147. 13 A. Filon, Recollections of Empress Eugenie (London: Cassell and Company, 1920), 49–50. 14 E.-F. de Beaumont-Vassy, E.-F. de, Prince Max à Paris. Roman inédit (Paris: F. Sartorius, 1870), 88–189. 15 Waleffe, 151. 16 Taxile Delord, Histoire du Second Empire. 1848–1869 (Paris: G. Ballière, 1869–1876), 2:426. 17 Jean-Claude Yon, Le Second Empire (Paris: Armand Collin, 2012 [2004]), 229. 18 Paul Gerbod, ‘Les «fièvres thermales» en France au XIXe siècle’, Revue historique t.277, (1987), 2:311. 19 Filon, 44. 20 Filon, 45. 21 Comtesse Dash, Memoires des autres (Paris: Librairie illustrée, 1896–1898), 2:148. 22 Comtesse Dash. 23 Plombieres-les-Bains (Les-Chatelles: L. Geisler, 1908).

Secret diplomacy  221 24 E-F. de Beaumont-Vassy, Histoire de mon temps. Deuxième serie (Paris: Amyot, 1864–1865), 2:308–309. 25 The Morning Post, 14.7.1858, 5. 26 Caledonian Mercury, 9.7.1858. 27 Albert Mansfeld, Napoléon III (Paris: Bureau de la suscription nationale, 1860), 2:243. 28 The Leicester Chronicle, 10.7.1858, 1. 29 Johnson’s Oxford Journal, 17.7.1858. 30 Johnson’s Oxford Journal, 17.7.1858. 31 Alexandre Bardenet, Un souvenir de Plombières: ceremonie religieuse … du 18 juillet 1858 (Vesoul: L. Souchaux, 1861). 32 Pierre de Lano, Le secret d’un empire. L’Imperatrice Eugenie dans son imagination (Paris: V. Havard, 1891), 63–64. 33 Cited in Emile Ollivier, L’Empire liberal. Études, récits, souvenirs (Paris: Garnier, 1895–1918), 4:596. 34 Cavour to Countess de Circourt, 7.4.1857, Le Comte de Cavour et la Comtesse de Circourt. Lettres inédites (ed. C. Nigra) (Turin: L. Roux et Cie, 1894), 83–84. 35 A Bert (ed.), Nouvelles lettres inédites C. Cavour (Turin: L. Roux et Cie, 1889), 516 fn. 36 Ch. de Mazade, The Life of Count Cavour (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1877), 187–188. 37 Cavour to Dr. Conneau, 6.5.1858, Mack Walker (ed.), PLOMBIÈRES: Secret diplomacy and the Rebirth of Italy (Oxford: OUP, 1968), 211–212. 38 ‘Conventional Phrases’ for Telegraphic Correspondence between Cavour and Nigra’, PLOMBIÈRES, 212. 39 Cavour to Marquis di Villamarina, 2.6.1858, PLOMBIÈRES, 216. 40 C. Nigra to Cavour, 9.5.1858, PLOMBIERÈS, 213–214. 41 Cavour to Mme. de Circourt, 7.7.1858, Le Comte de Cavour, 88–89. 42 General de Beville to Cavour, 11.7.1858, PLOMBIÈRES, 220. 43 William Roscoe Thayer, The Life and Times of Cavour (London: Constable and Co., 1911), 1:528. 44 Thayer, 531. 45 Cited in Thayer, 534. 46 Thayer, 532. 47 M. Paleologue, ‘Un Grand réaliste: Cavour’, Revue des deux mondes (1925), 11–12:901. 48 Editha von Rahden to Princess Cherkasskaia, 24.7/5.8.1858, OR RGB, 327/III–9–43, ll.13–14. 49 Cavour to Napoleon III, 2.8.1858, PLOMBIERÈS, 230. 50 Cavour to La Marmora, 24.7.1858, PLOMBIERÈS, 226–228. 51 Thayer, 535. 52 Cited in F. Masson, ‘L’Italie liberée’, Revue des deux mondes (1923), 13:43. 53 The Morning Post, 28.7.1858, p. 5. 54 The Standard, 30.7.1858. 55 du Camp, 190–191. 56 Gaël Nofri, Napoleon III. Visionnaire de l’Europe des nations (Paris: François-­ Xavier de Guibert, 2010), 323. 57 Mazade, 218. 58 Pierre de Lano, 125. 59 Nottinghamshire Guardian, 10.2.1859, 7. 60 The Dundee Courier and Argus, 11.7.1864, part II. 61 Aimé Gibotteau, Biarritz (Dax: H. Labèque, 1897). 18. 62 ‘Lien at Biarritz’, Daily News, 19.9.1863. 63 P. Merimée to Panizzi, 15.9.1861, Lettres à Panizzi (Paris: C. Lévy, 1881) 1:135–136. 64 ‘Biarritz and Scarborough’, The Morning Post, 5.10.1864, p. 2.

222  Business of Europe 65 Penny Illustrated Paper, 30.09.1865, p. 283. 66 Henry Blackburn, The Pyrenees: A Description of Summer Life at French Watering Places (London: Sampson Low, Son and Marston, 1867), 313. 67 Gérard Delfau, Hygiène et therapeutique thermales (Paris: Masson, 1896), 177–178. 68 Mme. de Lalaing, Les Côtes de France. De Saint-Nazaire à Biarritz (Lille: J. Lefort, 1886–1890), 298. 69 ‘Sea Bathing in England and France’, The Caledonian Mercury, 9.8.1864. 70 ‘The Ladies’ Column’, Manchester Times, 18.6.1864. 71 ‘Sea Bathing in England and France’. 72 Horace de Viel-Castel, Mémoires du comte Horace de Viel Castel: sur le règne de Napoléon III (1851–1864) (Paris: chez tous les libraires, 1883–1884), 6:272. 73 ‘The Emperor Napoleon at Biarritz’, The Morning Post, 10.9.1858, 6. 74 Marquise de Taise-Chatenoy [pseud.], A la Cour de Napoleon III (Paris: A. Savine, 1891), 88. 75 The Leeds Mercury, 30.09.1865. 76 Filon, 1:56. 77 The Morning Post, 6.9.1858, 4. 78 The Leeds Mercury, 12.9.1865. 79 The Morning Post, 27.9.1865, 4. 80 Henry Blackburn, 320. 81 ‘The Meeting of the French and Spanish Sovereigns’, The Examiner, 16.9.1865. 82 A.F. Budberg to A.M. Gorchakov, 13/25.5.1860, AVPRI, 340–585–18, ll.109–117. 83 J. Klaczko, Two Chancellors: Prince Gortchakof and Prince Bismarck (London: Chapman & Hall, 1876), 156. 84 Heinrich Abeken to Rudolph Abeken, 10.8.1865, Bismarck’s Pen. The Life of Heinrich Abeken (London: George Allen and Company, 1911), 209. 85 Sir Robert Morier to Lord Russell, 7.9.1865, Memoirs and Letters, 1:416–417. 86 Heinrich von Poschinger, Conversations with Prince Bismarck (London: Harper & Brothers, 1900), 80. 87 Poschinger, 80–81. 88 The Standard, 6.10.1865, p. 4. 89 Taxile Delord, 4:213. 90 Arsène Legrelle, La France et la Prusse devant l’histoire (Le Havre: impr. A Lemale ainé, 1871), 384. 91 Jonathan Steinberg, Bismarck. A Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 184. 92 Klaczko, 47. 93 Legrelle, 384. 94 Louis Gregoire, Histoire de France (Paris: Garnier, 1883), 4:436. 95 Klaczko, 171. 96 Legrelle, 385. 97 Gregoire, 4:436. 98 Legrelle, 384. 99 Augustin Filon, Merimée et ses amis (Paris: Hachette et Cie, 1894), 282. 100 Istoriia diplomatii, 544–545. 101 Klaczko, 171. 102 Istoriia diplomatii, 544–545. 103 Nofri, 359. 104 Nofri, 358. 105 Lord Augustus Loftus, The Diplomatic Reminiscences of Lord Augustus Loftus. 1837–1862 (London: Cassell & Company, 1892), 1:303. 106 Legrelle, 383. 107 The Huddersfield Chronicle and West Yorkshire Advertiser, 16.12.1865, 5. 108 Istoriia diplomatii, 544–545.

Secret diplomacy  223 109 Istoriia diplomatii, 548. 110 Istoriia diplomatii, 553. 111 Istoria diplomatii, 554. 112 Pierre de La Gorce, Napoleon III et sa politique (Paris: Impr.-Libr. Plon, 1933), 87. 113 Sir Arthur Nicolson to Sir Edward Grey, 26.02.1908, FO 800/ 337, 222–224. 114 Hugo Hantsch, Leopold Graf Berchtold. Grandseigneur und Staatsmann (Vienna: Verlag Styria, 1963), 77. 115 Baron von Aehrenthal to Count Berchtold, 12.6.1907, Auch dem Nachlaß Aehrenthal. Briefe und Dokumente zur Österreichisch-ungarischen Innen- und Außenpolitik 1885–1912 (Graz: Wolfgang Neugebauer Verlag GmbH, 1994),2:508–509. 116 Baron von Aehrenthal to Count Berchtold, 14.06.1908, Auch dem Nachlaß Aehrenthal, 2:596–598. 117 Baron von Aehrenthal to Count Berchtold, 20.7.1908, Auch dem Nachlaß, 2:604–605. 118 Baron von Aehrenthal to Count Berchtold, 8.08.1908, Auch dem Nachlaß, 2:607–608. 119 Hantsch, 114. 120 Paula von Aehrenthal to her mother-in-law, 25.8. 1908, Die Aehrenthals. Eine Familie in ihrer Korrespondenz 1872–1911 (ed. Franz Aldgasser) (Vienna: Bohlau Verlag, 2002), 939–940. 121 Marina Soroka, Britain, Russia and the Road to the First World War. The Fateful Embassy of Count Aleksandr Benckendorff.1903–1916 (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2011), 176. 122 Hantsch, 116–117. 123 Baron von Aehrenthal to Count Berchtold, 29.8.1908, Auch dem Nachlaß, 2:617–618. 124 Hantsch, 118. 125 Cited in Hantsch, 119. 126 ‘Russia and Austria Foreign Ministers to Meet’, 14.9.1908, The Manchester Guardian, 12. 127 Hantsch, 120. 128 Hantsch 121. 129 A.A. Savinsky’s Diary, AVPRI, 340–834–27, l.71 ob. 130 Sir George Franckenstein, Facts and Features of My Life (London: Cassell & Company, 1939), 77–78. 131 G. Wesselitsky to A.K. Benckendorff, 4.10.1908, BA, Box 13. 132 A.A. Savinsky’s Diary, AVPRI, 340–834–27, l.71 ob. 133 Cited in Hantsch, 143. 134 A.A. Savinsky’s Diary, AVPRI, 340–834–27, l.73 ob. 135 Edward VII to Nicholas II, 3.5.1909, GARF, 601–1–1388, ll.39–40 ob. 136 Verbal notes were sent by the ministry without the minister’s signature, and they were styled in the icy third person singular: ‘H.I.M.’s foreign minister informs Count Berchtold that …’. 137 A.A. Savinsky’s Diary, AVPRI, 340–834–27, l.75 ob.

9 Puppets and puppeteers Summer of 1870 in Ems

… this war of 1870 which has been entirely blamed on Napoleon III was forced on him by the nation, to which the Duke de Gramont revealed the facts that only diplomats should have known until a definitive solution was found. —Maxime Du Camp, 1889

Napoleon III’s attempt to remind Prussia – and Europe – that it would not be allowed to ignore France’s interests took place at a fashionable spa, Bad Ems. For Prussia the issue was its future as the great power. If Prussia surrendered to Napoleon, it would have been the end of its leading role in Germany in the foreseeable future. For the French Empire the mastery of Europe was at stake, and the foreign minister Gramont continued pressuring Prussia even after he had ostensibly got what he wished for in the first place. Sabre rattling deprived the French cabinet of options, and public opinion forced it to declare war under the most unfavourable diplomatic circumstances. The episode is also a classic case of opportunities created by the informal spa setting becoming a pitfall. The purpose of all the alternatives to official diplomatic channels was to achieve a political object with a minimum of publicity or delay, but the public character of the Ems episode and the absence of the main decision maker, Bismarck, defeated both purposes.

Bismarck’s plans Bismarck’s grand design was to unite under the Prussian crown all the German states that had been loosely tied for a thousand years, first in the Holy Roman Empire and then in the German confederation. The situation was promising: the British government was against continental involvement and suspicious of ­Napoleon’s designs; Austria-Hungary was weakened; Russia refrained from an active foreign policy. During his term as Prussian ambassador in St. ­Petersburg (1859–1862), Bismarck became a pet of St. Petersburg society and of the ­Romanov family. As he wrote, he noticed that Russia’s policy was sometimes aimed against an unfair deal meted out to a nation. He must have found it foolish, for in his own words, ‘the only sane basis for a great power … is state selfishness, not

Puppets and puppeteers  225 romanticism, and it is unworthy of a great power to fight for a cause which does not involve its own interest.’1 But he made use of it as well as the Russian resentment for Austria (‘There seems to be no room in Russian thought than how to strike at Austria’2) for his project of German unification. During the Austro-Prussian Seven Weeks’ War of 1866, France wanted to impose peace on Prussia before Austria had been defeated. Russia did not join France. The foreign ministry’s position was: ‘We do not need ‘peace à tout prix’, just because ­Napoleon wants to take possession of Europe. We should not force Prussia to make concessions [to Austria], let her fight for a unification of Germany: anyway, a full and lasting unification is impossible’.3 In 1869, Alexander awarded his ­uncle the highest Russian military order, St. George of the 1st class. It demonstrated Russia’s endorsement of Bismarck’s two wars, those of 1864 and 1866, and the closeness between the two monarchies. The French concluded that perhaps there was no formal treaty, but if Prussia were attacked, Russia would certainly come to its aid.4 Bismarck’s clear intention was to destroy the remains of the Vienna system by creating a new power in the centre of Europe. Baron Stockmar, once a political mentor of Queen Victoria’s husband and a man of Metternich’s era, predicted that Bismarck, by pushing Europe into the ‘iron age’, ‘will establish his NordDeutsches Bund [Northern Confederation] as a great machine for pumping men and money out of the rest of Germany, and paving the way towards the Einheits Staat [unitary state]’.5 In 1867 in Carlsbad, the French ambassador to Berlin Benedetti shared his concern about Bismarck’s designs with Sir Robert Morier. The two agreed that a European congress to consecrate the principles of international cooperation might stop Bismarck,6 but the idea failed. Diplomats understood that Bismarck was only looking for a favourable conjuncture, and common sense required that other states not help him to create one.

Spa life after the Prussian Wars William I of Prussia began the 1867 spa season with a cure at Ems. A year after the Austro-Prussian War, he would not be welcome at his old favourite, the Austrian Carlsbad. The visit was also a symbol of the new master coming into ownership. Ems used to belong to Nassau, but in 1866 Nassau sided with Austria-Hungary against Prussia, and Prussia annexed the duchy. From there William went to another former Nassau spa, Wiesbaden. When the town fathers referred to the war in their speeches, the king answered: ‘It pained me to have to act as I did … but history cannot stand still, it must advance’.7 And so it did advance – as some people felt, towards the next war. Turgenev wrote to a friend from Baden-Baden: [E]verything is green, lilacs are blooming – in a word, it is good. The only bad thing, it appears that war is inevitable. I travelled here from Berlin with Count Flemming, the Prussian minister to Baden – his patron, Count ­Bismarck, has no doubt that war is inevitable.8

226  Business of Europe In France there was no wish for war, and in March 1867 Emile Ollivier, a prominent statesman, told the parliament that ‘Germany should be regarded as our rampart, our veritable avant garde against autocratic Russia’. He repeated this sentiment in 1870, when he became the head of the French government.9 He referred to the weak, disunited Germany of the moment, while in Germany, as Turgenev wrote, ‘everyone is for Prussia, for German unification, and – oddly! – almost everyone wants a war to come soon because they consider it inevitable’.10 The French could see why Bismarck might want a third war in order to complete the unification of Germany under the Prussian crown. He had already tied the southern German states to Prussia by defensive treaties, but the autonomist parties stood to win the next election in most of them. A war against a common aggressor, which they would have to fight alongside Prussia, would consolidate their German nationalism, Bismarck’s strongest weapon for controlling Germans. Also, Bismarck’s full power over the military budget of the Northern Confederation expired in late 1870 and would hardly be renewed. Another consideration occurred to French historians postfactum, when France was paying a huge contribution to Prussia after losing the war: after the war of 1866, the ­Prussian budget, which used to be on the plus side, showed a deficit. War was a way of refilling the state coffers.11 Bismarck, on his side, saw that the French Empire might need a war, too: the buffer territories between France and Prussia were gone. Now that Baden, ­Württemberg and Bavaria were allied to Prussia, France stood open to invasion in case of war with Prussia. In 1868, Napoleon attempted to persuade the British to discourage Bismarck from further moves by neutralizing the states south of the Main, creating more ‘Belgiums’, but he failed. He needed to tear these territories away from Prussia before it was too late. He needed a diplomatic or military victory to reassert France’s dominant role on the continent.

The Spanish vacancy When a junta of generals in Spain overthrew Isabella II in 1868, Bismarck’s assistant Heinrich Abeken commented: ‘We may well be thankful at having so little interest there that we can patiently await the development of events’.12 The reaction in neighbouring France was different because Spain under a hostile or unstable government might become a source of problems. The ex-prime minister François Guizot explained: In the relations between states it is particularly important to know on whom one can rely, with whom one deals, and whether the government that one is dealing with, will stay in power. Spain does not give this certainty to France and will not give it for a long time. Currently, she is … for the French government … the subject of curiosity, incertitude and worry’.13 No one in Europe could predict Spain’s future political system and alignment: Count all the … regimes that these people promised to establish after the Spanish revolution: a republic, a legitimist monarchy, a constitutional

Puppets and puppeteers  227 monarchy, the Iberian Union, a regency, a military dictatorship, Serrano, ­Espartero, Prim, don Carlos, the Duke and the Duchess de Montpensier, Prince Alfred of Britain, the Braganza dynasty.14 At the time he was writing, Guizot did not know about the most favoured candidate for the Spanish throne. Long before the queen was ousted, the Spanish statesmen knew that she would have to go, and an ex-secretary of the S ­ panish embassy in Berlin, Miguel de Salazar y Masarredo, looked for a European prince to replace the queen. In 1866 at Biarritz, Salazar met for lunch with his acquaintance, the Prussian ambassador to Paris, Baron Werther. When Salazar said that the queen might soon leave the throne vacant, Werther immediately said that the best candidate would be Prince Leopold Sigmarinen-­ Hohenzollern,15 a junior member of the Prussian royal family. Two years later the queen abdicated, Marshal Prim became the regent of Spain and Salazar, the marshal’s trusted assistant, spoke to him about the Prussian candidate. L ­ eopold was Catholic, married to a Portuguese princess, a relative of the ­Prussian and Belgian kings and the brother of the Rumanian crown prince – a  very suitable candidate. Bismarck sent a Prussian General Bernhardi to Madrid to see if a Prussian candidate would be acceptable to the Spanish provisional government.16 Bismarck’s move worried the French government. If a Prussian prince became the king of Spain, France would be encircled by states either allied or subservient to Prussia. In May 1869, the French ambassador, Benedetti, asked Bismarck whether Prussia would support Leopold’s candidacy. The chancellor answered that King William I, the head of the Hohenzollern family with whom rested the final decision, disapproved of the idea as involving too many risks.17 Indeed, when Leopold’s father Anton Hohenzollern wrote to William that if his son became the king of Spain he could count on the support of the Spanish army, the king retorted: ‘What support can you expect from an army that for the past 40 years had done nothing but all sorts of revolutions?’18 Nevertheless, in the fall of 1869, Prince Anton entered negotiations with ­Salazar on behalf of his son. Nothing came out of it, for Leopold first accepted, then refused the offer.19 Still, he was the best candidate, and in February 1870 Prim officially informed Bismarck about Spain’s interest in the prince.20 On 15 March 1870 during a session at the royal palace in Berlin, the Prussian statesmen agreed that Leopold should accept the Spanish proposal because he would be an important asset in case of war against France: to prevent Spain’s attack, the French would have to keep two army corps on the Spanish border. William I complained that it would be another liability for Prussia: ever since Leopold’s brother Charles had become the crown prince of Rumania, he had been asking for money. ­Bismarck defended the idea,21 so the king told Leopold that he was free to accept or decline the Spanish proposal. Bismarck made sure that the Spanish regent would approach the prince for a third time, by secretly sending his secretary to Madrid.22

228  Business of Europe

Summer of 1870 In May 1870, Napoleon III heard about new Spanish-Prussian talks and commented that the Spanish throne was a European issue23 to be decided by a congress. Also in May 1870, the Duke de Gramont, the French ambassador to Vienna, was appointed the foreign minister. A tall, slim man with a pale face and bright eyes, he carried himself with much dignity. He was a fan of ­Carlsbad waters where his usual company were Austrian aristocrats and, since 1866, the ­German princes whom Bismarck’s policy forced into exile.24 Neither were friends of Prussia, and it was assumed in Berlin that Gramont shared their attitude. He said later that as a foreign minister he opted for ‘avoiding war as much as possible and preparing for war, also, as much as possible’ because he thought that Prussia would inevitably attack France.25 Then summer arrived, and the usual lull in foreign policy set in, which journalists said was dangerous because ‘when facts are wanting, imagination and gossip are at work’.26

Ems in 1870 The life of the middle-aged Prussian royal family, William I and Augusta, was well regulated. At Easter Augusta left for Baden-Baden or Coblenz, where she stayed with her daughter, the grand duchess of Baden, until the fall. In June W ­ illiam went to Ems, a charming green town with a population of about 2,000, a matter of 10 hours away from Berlin or Paris by train. The royal patrons of this spa were many, as shown by the names of the sources: Constantine, Victoria, Augusta and the Princes’ Source. In 1870, local physicians hailed the properties of a newly discovered King William’s Source, which burst from under the ground in the court of Hotel de l’Europe and rose in the air in a sparkling column 11 feet high.27 Ems water is clear, bubbly, without unpleasant smell or taste. The temperature of the sources ranges between 20° and 40° Celsius, and the water was prescribed for baths and drinking. The state-owned and private bathing establishments competed in luxury to attract the 12,000 annual visitors to Ems. The social club, Kursaal, surrounded by a pretty garden, was open to all foreign guests free of charge. It had a reading room, a dancing salon and other usual amenities. A gallery connected it to the old Kurhaus, where the four main sources of Ems were pumped for baths and douches. Ems was so popular that it had three seasons: the Russian season in May-June, the Anglo-German season in June and July and the French season in August and September.28 In the 1840s-1858, King William’s sister, Empress Alexandra Fedorovna, her children and their families regularly visited Ems, so the Russian official newspaper Le Nord even kept a permanent reporter at the spa. But after 1858 Russians followed their empress to Nice29 and only returned to Ems when her son Alexander II became a regular visitor in the mid-1860s. Alexander II loved Ems because of its reputation as a place for asthmatics and because he met his Uncle William there.

Puppets and puppeteers  229

Ems prepares to receive an emperor In early May 1870, Sergei Ivanovich Merezhkovsky, an official of Alexander’s household, came to Ems to prepare for the emperor’s visit. For security reasons, the official reserved an entire hotel for the emperor. The Darmstädterhof was conveniently situated in the downtown and had no building facing it, making surveillance easier. He reserved lodgings nearby for the members of the suite.30 At  the Darmstädterhof, Merezhkovsky set up offices, guard rooms for the ­Prussian guards of honour and guest apartments for the German princes who had announced their intention to visit the Russian emperor. The shops on the ground floor were transferred elsewhere because restricted access to the hotel would hurt their trade. An alarm was installed in the emperor’s suite: if someone touched the door or the windows of his bedroom from the outside, a bell rang.31 A provisional chapel was mounted in one of the salons of the Kurhaus. Horses from the imperial stables were brought for the emperor and his son to ride, all of them of the same Russian breed, Orlov trotters. Twenty more horses, six barouches and a gala carriage were rented from local stables. All the horses were black, to go with the silver-plated harness. Police warned Ems hoteliers to keep their guest registers updated because they would be regularly checked. Fishing from the bridges or along the right bank of the Lahn, as well as sitting down on the benches in the Kursaal park, was banned until the end of Alexander II’s visit. The number of cabs circulating in the area between the train station and the Darmstädterhof was reduced to avoid traffic jams. Town fathers made an effort to keep beggars out of the promenade. Posters requested the public to avoid staring at the guests while walking in the alleys. For the period of Alexander’s stay, special passes were issued for circulating in the area, and new police stations were set up in the nearby towns to control the public arriving in Ems. The building of the Ems train station was freshly painted; the streets leading to the Kurhaus and the Darmstädterhof were repaved.32 Shopkeepers displayed new merchandise in their windows, The Darmstädterhof owners placed an enormous ‘A’ made of evergreen leaves and pine cones over the entrance.33

Alexander II in Berlin On the way to Ems, Alexander and his son Vladimir stopped in Berlin to see King William and Queen Augusta. In the evening they attended a gala dinner and a review of Prussian guards. The next day Alexander attended a liturgy at the Russian chapel, another review, and at noon left for Ems.34 Bismarck, recovering from illness at his country estate, excused himself from attending. He returned to Berlin three days later and gave instructions to neutralize the effect of a recent article in the German press about the shortage of labour in the cartridge factory. He said it would at once cause anxiety abroad because of the assumption that he was preparing for war.35 He also met the father of the Spanish candidate and told him to contact the Spanish regent Prim.36

230  Business of Europe

Russians in Ems Alexander II reached Ems at half past ten in the evening. As usual, a band performed the Russian anthem when he stepped out on the brightly lit platform; the city fathers welcomed the guest, and a little girl gave him a bouquet of flowers. The streets on the way to the hotel were decorated with flower garlands; a crowd was waiting in front of the hotel. A Russian flag was hoisted over the hotel. The guests registered in the hotel book: Alexander came as Count Borodinsky and his son Vladimir as Count von Ropsha, after the Romanovs’ suburban estate. The servants unpacked the emperor’s favourite armchair, bed and sofa, his papers, the imperial seal, coffers with uniforms and orders, ceremonial weaponry. In another room, cases of china and kitchenware were unpacked: the emperor brought his own chef and kitchen staff.37 As the crowd kept acclaiming him, ­Alexander and his son appeared on the balcony and bowed to the public. After three appearances, the door to the balcony was shut and the crowd dispersed. The lights went out at midnight, and the Russian police agents took up their places outside the hotel. The journalists reported that Alexander’s physician ordered him to abstain from work, but a chancellery was set up at the hotel and couriers arrived three times a week with papers requiring his signature.38 Alexander followed a cure program: in the morning he walked to the spring, at noon he took a thermal bath, in the afternoon he strolled in the promenade and at six he went for a ride with Milord, his Labrador, running next to him. Sometimes in the evening he visited the Kursaal. The security system made it difficult to approach the emperor, but the usual exceptions were made. Music bands sometimes played under the emperor’s windows, and he had money sent down to them. A local flower girl came to the hotel every morning with a little bunch of lilies of the valley for Alexander and was generously rewarded. On the first day, a beggar boy showed the emperor his ragged stockings and was given alms, so ever since hopeful figures in decoratively torn clothes have hovered within Alexander’s sight.39 The town was full and there were daily balls, parties and concerts. Gambling in Ems was not on the same scale as in Wiesbaden or Homburg, but the salon at the Kursaal was well attended and Grand Duke Vladimir often played rouge et noir there.40 Alexander’s relatives, the Prince and Princess of Sweden, the Duke of Saxe-­ Weimar and the Prince of Wied, arrived. The Russian ambassador in London, Philip ­Brunnow, and the ambassador to Berlin, Petr Oubril, came soon after. The name of the emperor’s young mistress, Ekaterina Dolgoroukaya, did not appear on the list of foreign visitors, but she was in Ems and the emperor visited her villa late at night.41

Bismarck’s arrival The announcement that on 1 June William I would visit Ems came as a surprise because the sovereigns had just met in Berlin. Bismarck’s presence meant that political affairs would be discussed. In 1868, when Alexander II met his ­uncle in Schwalbach, the newspapers concluded that the interview had no political significance because

Puppets and puppeteers  231 William I would hardly dare undertake any commitments in the absence of his ‘Minister-Master’.42 Still, in 1870, the Russian foreign ministry assured the French ambassador that Ems was another purely family meeting.43 The newspapers were making guesses about the reasons for the visit: the emperor’s son was being paired with one of the Prussian princesses44 or ­William I thought of proclaiming himself the emperor of Germany. Or, perhaps, ­Bismarck was annoyed by the ­Franco-­Austrian rapprochement and wanted to set ­Alexander II against the two powers.45 When the king’s train pulled into the Ems train station, the Russians were there to welcome him. The two monarchs first went to Alexander’s hotel. An emperor’s aide welcomed William at the entrance, offering the traditional Russian bread and salt on a gold platter. Fifteen minutes later William I drove off to the Kurhaus, where rooms were reserved for him. In the evening A ­ lexander II, wearing a Prussian general’s uniform, offered a dinner to his uncle and the princes present in Ems. The conversation touched upon politics, and Bismarck mentioned that he had met the new French foreign minister, Gramont, at Carlsbad and thought him a true gentleman, but perhaps too brusque and arrogant.46 Later Alexander and his uncle had a private conversation in the presence of ­Alexander’s minister of the court and Bismarck. They discussed the recent French plebiscite, or rather, listened to Bismarck’s opinion: with full support of his nation behind him Napoleon would try to ally himself to Austria in order to continue his expansionist policy.47 Then Bismarck informed Alexander about the Spanish succession issue: Prince Leopold seemed about to accept the Spanish proposal. France was going to protest, but it was really an affair between the prince and the Spanish, to be settled without French interference.48 The Prussians returned to Berlin on 5 June. Alexander left Ems a week later. All the merchants who supplied him were warned in advance to bring the invoices to the hotel to be paid. The minister of the court distributed gifts among those who provided services to the Russian emperor: the hotel owner, the chief of the train station, the postmen, the staff of the Kurhaus, security guards, policemen, and besides 500 thalers for the town’s poor; 200 thalers for Armenbad, the bath pavilion for the poor; a hundred for the mental asylum and a thousand towards building a Russian chapel in Ems.49

William I returns to Ems On 8 June, Bismarck returned to his estate Varzin to drink bottled Carlsbad water and wait for the outcome of the Spanish affair. In this way, later he could make the Hohenzollerns responsible for any awkwardness that might occur. Newspapers commented on his ill health and mentioned that he might go to an English watering place later in the summer.50 Salazar finished the negotiations in Madrid and returned to Berlin. On 11 June, the Spanish regent declared to his cabinet that he was negotiating with an excellent candidate – royal, Catholic and of age, but he could not reveal his name yet. On 18 June. Salazar and a Prussian official visited the prince. The next day Leopold wrote to Bismarck and to the king that he accepted the Spanish offer.51

232  Business of Europe

Figure 9.1  W  . S. Schmock. Kaiser Wilhelm I, c.1870, porcelain vase. Wikimedia Commons.

On 19 June, William I returned to Ems for a cure and stayed at the Kurhaus. On the king’s first evening in Ems, a messenger brought him the letters from Hohenzollern announcing Leopold’s acceptance. The king was so agitated by the news that he cancelled his bath for the next morning, because waters could do harm if taken under stress. He sent Leopold a telegram: ‘Against my will I accept. Letters follow.’52 The king was annoyed with Bismarck, saying that the father and son Hohenzollern . …. allowed themselves to be talked into it by Bismarck, and the Prince who had doubted that he had the guts to be the King of Spain, was suddenly filled with the idea that he was called upon to make Spain happy … I have Bismarck to thank for this because he took the whole matter so casually.53 Abeken informed Bismarck about the king’s irritation.54 The chancellor ordered Abeken to explain to the king that he had had nothing to do with the ­Hohenzollern’s decisions and that the Spanish affair was affecting his health too.55 He was also taking waters – albeit bottled – and so much stress was spoiling their effect.56

Puppets and puppeteers  233 On 21 June, Salazar telegraphed to Madrid that on 6 July he would bring Prince Leopold’s acceptance letter and then the parliament could vote on his candidacy. By mistake, the date of his arrival appeared in the telegram as 26 July. The president decided that there was no reason to postpone the usual vacation and the parliament was dissolved for summer,57 delaying the official recognition of Leopold’s candidacy. On 23 June, by an official letter William I confirmed to Prince Leopold that as the head of the Hohenzollern family he authorized him to accept the Spanish crown. He wrote: ‘You have made a choice which earlier, on my advice and for good reasons, you had rejected. According to my promise not to oppose your wish … I do not oppose it and give you my consent, although with a heavy heart, a very heavy heart.’58Then he made an effort to put the affair out of his mind and continued his cure. William’s life at the spa moved with the clockwork regularity that doctors recommended. Every day he got up at half past six; in civilian clothes he walked down the Kurhaus’s broad steps, where a smiling and curtseying girl attendant presented him with a glass of lukewarm water on a silver tray. The king strolled in the alley, sometimes stopping to chat with ladies of his acquaintance. The public flowed into the alley and crowded the space around the fountain. As he passed, people inclined their heads silently. He was not impressed because he remembered the old days. He told the young Countess Kessler: ‘Today … people don’t know how to show their deference to me. But there was a time when they broke windows in my house and the threat of assassination was so grave that the King my brother ordered me to stay in the Spandau fortress.’59 Then he returned to the fountain for his second glass of water. By the time he started back for the Kurhaus at eight, the orchestra was playing a potpourri of opera melodies. After a breakfast of coffee and fresh bread with honey, he read his daily mail brought by a courier. At noon he had a second breakfast and at five a bachelor dinner – because the queen was absent. After dinner he had the cercle:60 he walked round the salon where his visitors assembled, and he stopped to say a few polite words to each. By half past seven, everyone had left, and he finished the day at the small Ems theatre.61 On 3 July, the fourth anniversary of the Prussian victory at Sadowa, the king held a banquet for his generals. Afterwards they all attended a performance of an operetta conducted by the fashionable composer Jacques Offenbach. The next day there was a military review and another performance for the benefit of the poor, at which the king and various German princes were present.

The crisis On 2 July, Leopold’s acceptance was made public. Bismarck instructed his press to report the fact of the Spanish proposal and Leopold’s acceptance,62 without rejoicing or gloating and without mentioning his own name. But no one believed that he had been uninvolved in the affair. When the Spanish ambassador in Berlin, who had been completely bypassed during Salazar’s negotiations with

234  Business of Europe Bismarck, heard from the German officials that Bismarck denied any knowledge of the affair, he pointed out in his report to Madrid that the chancellor said the same thing four years before when Leopold’s brother was invited to Rumania.63

The reaction in Europe Throughout June there were several outbursts of anxiety in Paris: various French deputies of parliament had made agitated speeches against Bismarck’s plan to build a railroad across Switzerland from Germany to Italy. They saw it as a threat to Swiss independence and, indirectly, to France,64 for railroads were for transporting soldiers and artillery. A deputy compared the army of the North German Confederation to that of France, and stressing that the French army was much smaller, urged the government to increase its contingent. Prime Minister Émile Ollivier answered that it was not necessary because ‘[a]t no time was the peace of Europe more assured’.65 On 5 July, news arrived from Madrid that on 20 July the Spanish government would vote on Prince Leopold’s candidacy.66 Gramont was caught by surprise because in June the regent had assured the French ambassador that there were no negotiations with Berlin. Only a week earlier the Spanish parliament adjourned till 31 October; as usual, the regent Juan Prim y Prats was coming to Vichy where he would possibly meet with Napoleon III. Suddenly, Prim cancelled his Vichy cure until the end of July in order to settle without delay the affair of the Spanish vacancy. The French press pointed out that the candidate was a Prussian officer, a relative of the Prussian king and a protégé of Bismarck. Since Prussia had already placed Prince Leopold’s brother on the throne of Rumania and, The Standard wrote, ‘used him to provoke a conflict which nearly ended in a general European war’,67 this new manoeuvre appeared provocative. London, too, called the Spanish choice of Prince Leopold ‘reckless’.68 Gramont and Ollivier summoned the Prussian ambassador to Paris, Baron von Werther, who told them that he knew nothing about the affair. Gramont said that the news shocked France and that he hoped King William would show his desire for peace in Europe by persuading his relative to reconsider his decision. The word ‘war’ was pronounced, and Werther was alarmed. He telegraphed the king that he was coming to Ems with the worst premonitions.69 The king, once again, cancelled his noon bath and sent a telegram to Bismarck, who advised him to forbid Werther to come to Ems: the ambassador’s urgent visit would show to all that Gramont’s intimidation had been effective, but Abeken’s telegram did not arrive in time for Werther to cancel his voyage.70 Early on 6 July, Werther came to Ems. He repeated to the king Gramont’s words and confirmed that the news had produced a terrible impression on the French government. After Werther’s arrival, Ems society sensed that something was wrong. The officials of the royal chancellery were very busy, and extra clerks and a second cipher officer arrived to help Abeken with his increased workload. Abeken was sending off ciphered telegrams and letters to Varzin and Berlin and

Puppets and puppeteers  235 reading the incoming mail before passing it on to the king, who ordered that all reports be brought to him at once, whenever they arrived.71

Pressure On 6 July, Gramont announced that the Prussian candidate had not yet been approved by Spain and there was nothing to discuss. He added that the French government was neutral in the matter, but he considered that a Prussian on the Spanish throne would violate the European balance and threaten France’s interests and dignity. The French press and the chamber of deputies were in turmoil. Gramont decided to act vigorously to quash Bismarck’s intrigue before the ­Spanish government had voted for Leopold.72 He declared: ‘The French empire will not hesitate to start a war against a state that dares to attempt restore Charles V’s empire’.73 To his ambassador in Russia Gramont wrote: if Prussia does not retreat, it is war. The words were meant for Alexander II and his foreign minister Gorchakov. On 9 July, Alexander wrote to his uncle suggesting that Prince Leopold should decline the offer. Gorchakov was leaving for Baden-Baden and intended to visit the Prussian king discreetly and talk to him in the same sense.74 The French ambassador to Berlin, Vincent Benedetti, had left for his usual Wildbad cure. On Gramont’s orders the French chargé d’affaires met in Berlin with one of Bismarck’s officials who said that he knew nothing about the affair.75 Gramont decided he would act in Ems,76 disregarding diplomatic convention that required his ambassador to address Bismarck first. The king seemed an easy man to influence: Europe knew that Bismarck bossed him as he wished, and in Bismarck’s absence William I might give in to the French ambassador’s pressure. Gramont wanted to bind the king in front of Europe by a promise. On 7 July at noon, Gramont telegraphed Benedetti to start for Ems. On the way to the spa, Gramont’s attaché would meet him with instructions and the cipher that Benedetti was to use in telegrams to Paris, so: ‘Let the chief of the train station know where you will get off the train’.77 On the same day the Spanish regent Prim telegraphed Gramont that he realized the gravity of the situation, but the only honourable solution was for the prince to withdraw his candidacy.78 ­Gramont wrote another letter to Benedetti: to avert a war, he wanted an unequivocal answer from the king. He suggested a formula: ‘The king’s government does not approve of Prince Hohenzollern’s acceptance and orders him to abandon this decision taken without its authorization.’ Gramont warned that an answer that King William let his relative make his own decisions was unacceptable. He added that the Paris cabinet was waiting impatiently for an answer from Ems because if it proved unsatisfactory they would begin moving the troops to the border to be ready for the campaign within two weeks.79 Also on 7 July Bismarck, carefully monitoring the rising pressure, heard about the sabre rattling in Paris and ordered his press secretary to dictate to the G ­ erman press the articles they were to publish. The official press was to say that the ­Prussian government did not discuss the issue because it was a purely Spanish affair. The unofficial press was to appear scandalized by the French gall: they were

236  Business of Europe discussing Spanish succession in their chambers as if they had the right to dispose of the Spanish throne.80 The general tone Bismarck wanted from his press was summed in the question: ‘Is the Spanish throne a French dependency?’81 On 9 July, several deputies asked Gramont what information concerning the affair tha he had been receiving all the while from Berlin. The minister answered that he had heard nothing about the Spanish-Prussian negotiations. A semiofficial French newspaper. Le Constitutionnel, suggested that France should break off relations with Spain82 because their snub was intentional. In their view, Bismarck owed it to Europe to refuse Prince Leopold the authorization, for it upset the European balance. They cited several examples of a great power sacrificing its interest to prevent a European conflict: King Louis Philippe denied his relative the Duke de Montpensier permission to accept the throne of Belgium; Britain and Russia refused permissions, respectively, to the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duke of Leuchtenberg to reign in Greece. It was Prussia’s turn to show moderation.83 The response from Berlin newspapers was as Bismarck had ordered: the French in their excitement were forgetting that Spain was a sovereign state and had the right to decide who would reign there.84

Benedetti’s mission On 8 July at dawn, Benedetti left Wildbad. At Coblenz he got off the train to wait for the messenger from Paris. Meanwhile, he called on Queen Augusta and informed her of the reason for his journey. She was sympathetic and sent a messenger to Ems, warning the king about the ambassador’s arrival, because a surprise visit would irk him. She also decided to go to Ems in person and persuade the king. Late in the afternoon, Gramont’s messenger arrived. The two French diplomats went to dinner, and during the meal Benedetti read his instructions.85 He was to ask the king to advise Leopold to refuse the crown for the sake of Europe’s peace.86 When he arrived at Ems late at night, the king’s aide, Prince Radziwill, greeted him at the station. Benedetti asked him for a morning audience with the king. Then he looked for a hotel with rooms for himself and his staff. With all hotels full, Benedetti had to rent a villa.87 The next morning Radziwill came to tell the ambassador that unfortunately the king could not see him until 3 pm because of his ‘health routine’ and the expected arrival of the queen.88 Benedetti stayed indoors all the morning, for etiquette dictated that he should not appear in public before he had seen the king. Baron von Werther came to warn him that William I maintained that he could not take his word back after he had accepted the prince’s decision.89 Meanwhile, Abeken informed Bismarck about Benedetti’s arrival. The chancellor instructed him not to let the king commit himself. If Benedetti became overly insistent, the king was to address him to Varzin.90 Abeken was in a quandary: his low official rank did not allow him to interfere in the conversation between the ambassador and the king. Benedetti’s first audience lasted an hour. The king said that he had only been consulted as the head of the family, not as the king of Prussia,91 and since he had

Puppets and puppeteers  237 given his authorization, he could not revoke it. He also mentioned that ­Gramont’s statement to the legislative chambers was ‘almost provocative’. Benedetti said that the French government hoped the king would advise his relative to reconsider. William I answered amiably that he was in touch with the Hohenzollerns and would ask them how they thought to mitigate the dire impression that ­Leopold’s announcement produced in France. William warned Benedetti that this would take time because the chancery did not bring his special cipher to Ems, and they could not deal with such a delicate matter over the telegraph.92 A courier would travel slowly, as trains did not go to the Hohenzollerns’ country seat. At the end of the audience, the king invited Benedetti to join him at the theatre that evening. At midnight Benedetti returned to his villa, composed a reassuring report and sent it to Paris with the French consul in Cologne who happened to be in Ems.93 Meanwhile, Bismarck telegraphed to the state secretary that the official text of Gramont’s statement was, through foolishness or through intent, quite sharp. The chancellor thought that the noise and outrage in France would make it impossible for the French government to draw back. He decided not to protest officially but wanted as many German newspapers as possible to attack the French.94 On 10 July, the king wrote to Hohenzollern’s father advising that his son should reconsider his decision. That evening in the park, the king approached Benedetti to tell him that unfortunately he had no news for him as yet. Benedetti said, unhappily, that his government needed to give an explanation to the chamber. William I then promised to receive him the next day. The telegram Benedetti got from Gramont in the early hours of 11 July ­ordered him to get the king to say that he had had no part in Prince Leopold’s decision. Gramont wrote that they received information that the Prussians were beginning mobilization. The foreign minister was wild with anxiety that the ­Prussians would steal a move on the French army like they had on Austria in 1866.95 ­Benedetti answered by telegraph that if France began mobilization war would become a certainty.96 That day Benedetti had another hour-long conversation with the king. He said that a Hohenzollern on the Spanish throne meant that in the event of a conflict between France and Prussia, France would have to divide its army to protect the border with Spain. William I protested: ‘You are exaggerating the consequences of a combination which I personally have never wished for.’ Seizing on these words, Benedetti asked permission to tell the French imperial government that the king would suggest to the prince that he revoke his decision. The king repeated that as a monarch he could quite see the French government’s point, but as head of a family he could not take back his consent. Besides, he said, Prince Leopold was travelling. Benedetti had to wait until Leopold rejoined his father and discussed the affair with him. The ambassador said that silence in Madrid and in Berlin made it appear that there had been a plot against France’s interests, so France needed a definitive statement. The king countered that such insistence ‘could make him believe that we were using this incident as a pretext for a conflict.’ He added: ‘I know about

238  Business of Europe the preparations in Paris and I will not conceal that I am taking my precautions in order not to be caught by surprise’.97 Benedetti said that the French imperial government would look foolish if it declared to the nation: ‘Prince Leopold is travelling and the King is waiting for his answer to make a decision’. The king replied that there was nothing he could do about it and that Benedetti should advise Paris to have patience.98 Gramont answered at 2 am on 12 July that they would wait one more day but that an answer from the king was absolutely necessary.99 On the same day ­William I received two telegrams: Alexander II repeated his advice to make Leopold withdraw,100 and Leopold telegraphed that he turned down the Spanish proposal and his father made the news public. That evening King William had Benedetti to dinner along with the Russian, Dutch and Turkish ambassadors. Abeken was nervous: if the king gave Benedetti the news, the French would present it to public opinion as the king’s capitulation to their pressure.101 But the king never mentioned the news. That day in Paris Gramont summoned Werther to the ministry. During their interview, the Spanish ambassador called to inform Gramont that the Spanish government received the prince’s renunciation. But Gramont could see neither to the left nor the right of his idea: France needed a guarantee that the prince would never again present his candidacy because it affected France’s interests. He asked Werther to obtain a letter to this effect from the king.102 Werther was quite shaken when he returned to the embassy and told his subordinates: ‘A war between France and Prussia is an event of such huge importance, so terrible a disaster for so many people, the cause is besides so trivial that it is the duty of every man of honour to seek to prevent it by every means in his power.’ He telegraphed to Ems Gramont’s suggestion: let the king write that when he allowed Prince Leopold to present his candidature, he did not think to offend France’s interests or honour. Abeken, who was the first to read Werther’s telegram, qualified it as ‘an end to his career’103 and hesitated to give it to the king. Indeed, the king wrote to his wife: ‘Have you ever heard of such brazenness? They want me to look as a repenting sinner’.104 Bismarck recalled Werther by a brusque telegram and never spoke to him again.105 Gramont telegraphed Benedetti to get the king to tell him that the prince renounced the Spanish throne and promise that he would forbid the prince to present his candidacy in the future. He followed it by a second telegram, which he did not disclose in his memoir, saying that it contained instructions for the worst-case outcome of Ems initiatives.106 Benedetti wrote back at 1 pm that he had seen the king and was told that he would be summoned when William I got a formal letter from Leopold. Gramont thought the king was trying to trick Benedetti: in Paris they had the telegram about the renunciation at 3 pm, so it must have arrived in Ems by 1 pm.107 Napoleon III meanwhile added oil to the fire by a letter to Gramont: ‘Until we get an official communication from Ems we cannot consider that our just demands have been satisfied’.108 After reporting to Napoleon III, Gramont sent a third telegram to Benedetti, insisting that the king had to state that he made the prince refuse.

Puppets and puppeteers  239 Early in the morning of 13 July, Benedetti waited for the king at the fountain. When the king greeted him and wanted to continue his water-drinking routine, Benedetti hurried to tell him that he had heard from Paris about the prince’s withdrawal. He asked if he could inform his government that the king would forbid Prince Leopold to present his candidacy again. William I said the news was a surprise to him, but as for Benedetti’s request, he could not make such a promise without reservations.109 Somewhat later the inspector of Ems baths brought Abeken a fresh issue of Kölnische Zeitung announcing Prince Leopold’s withdrawal of his acceptance: as a Prussian officer and a German, he could not ‘throw Germany into a war for his sake and to bestow upon Spain at the same time as dowry a bloody war’.110 Further down, the newspaper reported that the news sent the stocks up: the war scare seemed to have passed. Abeken passed the newspaper on to the king, who asked Prince Radziwill to show it to Benedetti, if he happened to be in the promenade.111 Benedetti was still there and attempted to talk to the king again.112 The king was strolling with his chief of the military cabinet, and as usual a crowd was following in his steps. When Benedetti approached him, the king looked in his direction for a moment. According to a German eyewitness, Benedetti walked towards him: the king purposely turned his back on the ambassador and made a gesture of denial with his hand.113 The ambassador telegraphed that the king still had not had an official communication from the Hohenzollerns and refused to make commitments for the future. Soon after, he received a telegram from Gramont, sent the night before, insisting that he should get an engagement from the king. He telegraphed back that he could not do so unless the king sent for him. Then Radziwill came with the king’s message that Prince Leopold had renounced and the matter was over. Benedetti thanked Radziwill and told him that he got a second telegram from his minister, insisting on a firm engagement from the king. Radziwill went to see the king and soon was back: the king authorized Benedetti to tell his government that he approved of the prince’s renunciation. Benedetti insisted on an audience. The king answered through Radziwill: Benedetti might telegraph his government that William I supported Prince Hohenzollern’s refusal fully and without reservations – that was the most he could do for the ambassador.114 In the evening and then at dawn on 14 July, two more telegrams from Gramont arrived insisting that the king had to promise he would never allow Hohenzollern to present his candidacy again. Close to noon, Benedetti found Radziwill at the Kurhaus to say that he was leaving Ems that evening and wanted to take a formal leave of the king. Radziwill told him that the king was leaving Ems in the afternoon and might only have a few moments for him at the train station. The ambassador presented himself at the train station, the king told him a few polite words about talking to him again soon in Berlin and walked away. In the evening Benedetti left Ems.115 The episode was an attempt to achieve a political result by combining public threats and personal persuasion, without the discretion that personal diplomacy

240  Business of Europe requires. Gramont may have achieved his purpose had his ambassador been able to discuss the issue without all Europe watching and without the sabre rattling from Paris. William I was uneasy about his cousin’s acceptance of the Spanish throne, and his attitude influenced Leopold’s eventual decision to withdraw despite Bismarck’s support of the scheme. It was inappropriate for Benedetti to tackle the king instead of Bismarck and to do so at a spa, where William I could not avoid him without giving him a public snub, which would damage Franco-German relations immediately. Every European diplomat and monarch realized that at Ems the aged Prussian king was, socially speaking, a sitting duck for French diplomacy, and they sympathized with him. Years later Bismarck qualified Benedetti’s behaviour at Ems as ‘brazen pressure by an agent of a foreign state’,116 and his contemporaries were of the same mind. Europe saw France presenting an ultimatum to Prussia. Benedetti’s suavity and pleading did little to diminish the effect of the Paris declarations. Gramont’s publicized stance of ‘it’s either this or war’ left the king no choice. The first gentleman of his nation did not capitulate to threats without being dishonoured. No one could demand that a man tell lies and take back his word of honour. Even in the early 20th century a Soviet historian – a member of a society far removed from 19th-century conventions – qualified Gramont’s demand as ‘calculated insolence … unprecedented in the history of world diplomacy’. Gramont’s insistence on a formal written promise that if Leopold were offered the Spanish throne again, the king would not allow him to accept it was absurd. No one would offer the throne to Leopold once he had officially turned it down.117

The Ems episode ends in Berlin Bismarck learned about Leopold’s withdrawal when he arrived in Berlin on 12 July. He was overcome with fury. He thought of resigning, for, in effect, it was Prussia’s diplomatic surrender to French threats.118 The chancellor decided not to go on to Ems to avoid a quarrel with the king. On the same day Bismarck met with Gorchakov who was passing through Berlin on the way to Wildbad. They agreed to expose Gramont’s provocative behaviour indirectly by emphasizing to the European governments the restraint and moderation of the Prussian king and his minister. To mitigate the effect from his diplomatic defeat, Bismarck at once started a rumour that Prince Leopold’s candidacy had been fabricated between Napoleon III and Marshal Prim in order to isolate Prussia and divide public opinion in Germany.119 On 13 July, Bismarck, still in Berlin, was dining with his friends, among them the Prussian war minister Count von Moltke. During the dinner, Bismarck received a telegram from Abeken, quoting a note he received from the king that day: Count Benedetti caught me on the Promenade and importunely requested me to authorize him to send a telegram at once saying I bound myself not to consent to the Hohenzollerns candidature should they recur to it at any future time; this I declined, and rather sternly at last.

Puppets and puppeteers  241 Abeken wrote further that since then the king had received a letter from Hohenzollern’s father but decided not to receive Benedetti and simply sent him a message that he had received a confirmation of the news from Paris and that he had nothing further to say. Abeken concluded with the phrase that inspired Bismarck: that the king left it to Bismarck to decide whether this should be communicated to Prussian ambassadors abroad and to the press.120 Bismarck asked Moltke about the state of Prussian military preparedness. The answer was that if war was inevitable, then there was no point in postponing it.121 It would only give the French time to be better prepared. At the same time, the episode made France look provocative in Europe’s eyes. Bismarck sat down with a pen and soon he had the text for the press slightly edited: After the news of the renunciation of the Prince of Hohenzollern had been officially communicated by the Spanish Government to the French Government, the French Ambassador in Ems nevertheless demanded that His Majesty should authorize him to telegraph to Paris that His Majesty pledged himself for all future time never again to give his consent to the Hohenzollerns resuming their candidature. His Majesty has thereupon declined to receive the Ambassador again and has informed him through the adjutant that he has nothing further to communicate to the Ambassador.122 The king’s subsequent conciliatory farewell to Benedetti was omitted, and the report now spoke of a breakdown of negotiations. Moltke approved Bismarck’s editing job, and they continued the supper. The next morning German newspapers published Bismarck’s communiqué, and public outrage against the French was enormous. An influential right-wing conservative Kreutz Zeitung spoke of Gramont’s menacing utterances and called them ‘proof of a pre-concerted plan to intimidate Prussia’. The refrain of all press publications was that Prussia was ready to fight.123 King William travelled to Berlin, hailed by ecstatic crowds on every station, shouting: ‘Down with the French!’ Telegrams with congratulations for his firm stand against Benedetti were pouring in.124 At this moment the peace party seemed to have triumphed in the Paris cabinet. They decided to stop calling out the reserves and to inform both chambers that the government accepted the withdrawal of the Prussian candidate and in case of a revival of it in the future would appeal to the European concert. That evening they received from Berlin the news that after the publication of Bismarck’s communiqué there had been an anti-French demonstration in Berlin. They reversed the decision and proceeded with war preparations.125 On 15 July, the French government declared that war was imminent, and war credits were voted by a large majority. Prussian ambassadors abroad presented Bismarck’s version of the events to the governments. Alexander II heard from the Prussian ambassador that Gramont had threatened William I and wanted him to apologize to France and give promises for the future. When on 15 July the French ambassador General Emile-Félix

242  Business of Europe Fleury rushed to Alexander II to ask him to mediate with Prussia and detain war, the Russian emperor, previously sympathetic, told him coldly: ‘You think that you are the only ones who have pride?’126

The war On 20 July, the French government declared war on Prussia. As Bismarck expected, the southern German states rallied to Prussia’s cause against the French aggressor. Bismarck wanted reassurance about Russia’s favourable neutrality. Grand Duchess Elena once again addressed Gorchakov, sending him a letter from her brother Prince August of Württemberg, a Prussian general. She asked what she should reply to what was a message from Bismarck in disguise: Germany is very concerned about Russia’s attitude and fears that Russia might act in collusion with France – I believe this is impossible, taking into account the latter’s revolutionary policies. But nonetheless a word from you (meaning, your opinion) in this regard would put my mind at rest. … Prince Gorchakov should remember the humiliations to which Russia was subjected in the Parisian peace settlement, which ought to be changed. In fact, everything depends on Prussia’s attitude: if she does not go ahead, she will completely lose its standing in Germany … our strategy is based on the principle of self-preservation and not on conquest. I just heard Russia declared in Berlin that if Germany would attack France, Russia would attack Austria.127 On 23 July, Russia declared its neutrality and appealed to the European states to limit the scope of warfare. It was a warning to Austria: Russia would remain neutral unless Austria intervened. Austria did not move. It was all Bismarck wished for. He also published Benedetti’s memorandum of 1867 with Napoleon  III’s secret plans for annexing Belgium. Public opinion of Europe was indignant. ­Diplomacy retreated and the military took over. On 1 September, the French were defeated at Sedan, Napoleon III was captured and by October the French were seeking Russia’s mediation to begin nego­ tiations with Bismarck. In January 1871, King William I was proclaimed the emperor of the unified Germany. Bismarck’s undertaking was completed. The insurrection in Paris and the humiliating need for the new French government to turn to Prussians for help in suppressing the Paris Commune were corollaries to the collapse of Napoleon’s empire. In May 1871 peace was signed at Frankfurt. France promised to pay a 5 billion franc indemnity. ‘The imperial Germany, previously a semi-developed economy with chronic capital shortage, floated up on this vast flood of fluidity’.128 France also surrendered to Germany the province of Alsace and part of Lorraine. Loss of territory was considered the greatest humiliation for a defeated nation; besides, the two lost provinces left France considerably more exposed strategically and by the same token protected the new German empire from a French invasion. With

Puppets and puppeteers  243 these buffer territories, if the German army was beaten in the first battle with the French, it could retreat behind the Rhine, and the road to Berlin would still be protected. In the case of France, if it was beaten in the first battle, the road to Paris was open – as it nearly happened in 1914. The consolidation of the republican regime in France took several decades. Initially, there were plans to restore the Bonaparte empire or the Bourbon monarchy, which Bismarck did not discourage out of hand, allowing the Bonapartists and the royalists to destabilize the French political system by futile squabbling. In reality, Bismarck would not countenance a monarchist restoration in France, for its rallying cry to the nation was going to be a war of revenge. He said so in 1883: ‘A monarchy [in France] would entail a threat of war’.129 But it was a general opinion in Europe that another Franco-German war was a question of time. When the brother of the great French statesman Georges Clemenceau became engaged to an Austrian girl in 1886 her journalist father loudly lamented that his daughter was marrying a man whose country would sooner or later make war on Germany, Austria’s ally.130 Another reason why a monarchist restoration in France would play against ­Bismarck’s plans was that while Russia would not ally itself to a republican France, it might have no such compunction about a French monarchy. A ­Franco-Russian alliance became Bismarck’s nightmare after 1871. French rationality found the explanation of Prussia’s success in its advantages: good school education, nationalist or patriotic upbringing, physical fitness of the nation and reliable alliances. The French Republic worked on each of these: diplomats sought alliances against Germany; state support of schools and teachers became a national tradition; sports and fitness became part of the French educational system and a number of sports clubs and associations were founded in the last quarter of the century. Among other measures to improve the physical health of the nation, the government legislated that lower-paid categories of public and state servants – among them colonial officials, teachers, consular staff and the military – had the right to enjoy yearly spa cures free of charge.

Notes 1 Cited in S.S. Tatishchev, Istoriia rossiiskoi diplomatii (Moscow: EKSMO, 2010), 382. 2 Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 4.4.1859, The Love Letters, 321–323. 3 F. Tiutchev to A. I. Georgievsky, 3.7.1866, Literaturnoe nasledstvo, vol. 97 (Moscow: Nauka, 1988–1989), 1:411. 4 Cited in A. Sorel, Histoire diplomatique de la guerre franco-allemande (Paris: Plon, 1875), 1:47. 5 Memoirs and Letters of the Right Hon. Sir Robert Morier, 2:92. 6 Memoirs and Letters of the Right Hon. Sir Robert Morier, 2:92–93. 7 The Morning Post, 1.8.1867, p. 5. 8 I.S. Turgenev to V.P. Botkin, 8/20.4.1867, Polnoe Sobranie Sochinenii, 7:176. 9 Keith Wilson, Problems and Possibilities: Exercises in Statesmanship 1814–1918 (Charleston, SC: Tempus, 2003), 83. 10 I.S. Turgenev to V.P. Botkin, 8/20.4.1867, Polnoe Sobranie Sochinenii, 7:176. 11 Sorel, 1:49.

244  Business of Europe 12 Heinrich Abeken to Hedwig Abeken, 4.10.1868, 236. 13 F. Guizot to Princess Kochubey, 16.10.1868, BA, Bismarck’s Pen, Beloselskii-­ Belozerskii Papers, Box 1. 14 Ibid. 15 Pedro Voltes, Bismarck (Madrid: Palabra, 2004), 126. 16 Voltes, 128. 17 Le Duc de Gramont, La France et la Prusse avant la guerre (Paris: E. Dentu, 1871), 16. 18 Voltes, 130. 19 Abeken, 249. 20 Voltes, 130. 21 A. Saurel, 47. 22 H. Hesselbarth, ‘Deux documents sur la candidature Hohenzollern’, Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine 16(1911), 2:197–198. 23 ‘The Vacant Throne’, 18.5.1870, The New York Times, p. 2. 24 Saurel, 93. 25 Gramont, 9–10. 26 Daily News, 8.9.1864. 27 Albert Döring, Ems-les-Bains. Notice médicale (Paris: J.-B. Ballière, 1870), 8. 28 Ch. Brainne, 254. 29 Brainne, 254. 30 Saurel, 19. 31 Saurel, 32. 32 Saurel, 22–25. 33 Saurel, 26. 34 ‘Prussia’, The Manchester Guardian, 17.5.1870, p. 7. 35 M. Busch, Bismarck (London: The Copp, Clarke Company, 26. 36 F. Charles-Roux, Alexandre II, Gorchakoff et Napoléon III (Paris: Plon, 1913), 284. 37 Saurel, 29. 38 ‘Imperial Holiday’, The Manchester Guardian, 23.5.1870, p. 4. 39 Saurel, 58. 40 ‘Visitors at Ems’, The Manchester Guardian, 8.6.1870, p. 6. 41 Saurel, 28. 42 ‘Heavings in the Calm’, The Examiner, 22.08.1868. 43 Istoria diplomatii, 563. 44 ‘Prussia’, The Manchester Guardian, 15.6.1870, p. 7. 45 ‘French Affairs’, The Observer, 12.6.1870, p. 5. 46 Saurel, 43. 47 Saurel, 47. 48 Saurel, 48. 49 Saurel, 58. 50 The Pall Mall Gazette, 11.6.1870. 51 Saurel, 113. 52 Saurel, 119. 53 Charles-Roux, 285. 54 Abeken to Bismarck, 24.6.1870, Bismarck’s Pen, 246–248. 55 Abeken, 243–245. 56 Abeken, 249. 57 Voltes, 131. 58 Saurel, 119. 59 Kessler, 53. 60 Kessler, 50–51. 61 Kessler, 41–42. 62 Hesselbarth, 199.

Puppets and puppeteers  245 63 Voltes, 132. 64 ‘Reuter’s Telegrams’, The Pall Mall Gazette, 22.6.1870. 65 The Standard, 4.7.1870, 5. 66 Gramont, 29. 67 The Standard, 5.7.1870, 4. 68 ‘The Throne of Spain and the Peace of Europe’, The Pall Mall Gazette, 7.7.1870. 69 Saurel, 137. 70 Abeken, 248. 71 Abeken, 249. 72 Gramont, 31. 73 Cited in V. Potemkin, Istoriia diplomatii s drevneishikh vremen do novogo vremeni (Moscow: OGIZ, 1941–1945), 1:128. 74 Charles-Roux, 478. 75 Gramont, 29. 76 Gramont, 57. 77 Gramont, 57. 78 Gramont, 63. 79 Gramont, 61–62. 80 Busch, 26–27. 81 Busch, 28. 82 ‘Letter from Paris’, The Pall Mall Gazette, 9.7.1870. 83 ‘The Spanish Throne’, The Pall Mall Gazette, 9.7.1870. 84 The Morning Post, 13.7.1870, 5. 85 Saurel, 157. 86 Gramont, 58–61. 87 Saurel, 157–8. 88 Benedetti, ‘Du 9 au 14 juillet 1870 à Ems’, Revue de Paris (1909), 67:50. 89 Benedetti, 50. 90 Saurel, 163. 91 Charles-Roux, 286. 92 Benedetti, 51. 93 Saurel, 165. 94 Busch, 28. 95 Gramont, 71. 96 Gramont, 75. 97 Benedetti, 52. 98 Benedetti, 54. 99 Gramont, 74. 100 Charles-Roux, 478. 101 Saurel, 185. 102 Gramont, 108. 103 Abeken, 251. 104 Cited in Benedetti, 59. 105 Charles-Roux, 287–288. 106 Gramont, 96–103. 107 Gramont, 134. 108 Gramont, 137. 109 Benedetti, 56. 110 Abeken, 252. 111 Abeken, 251. 112 Abeken, 252. 113 Kessler, 41. 114 Benedetti, 57.

246  Business of Europe 15 Benedetti, 58. 1 116 Otto von Bismarck, Mysli i vospominaniia (Kharkov: Folio, 2014), (ePub), 2:68. 117 Potemkin, 129. 118 Otto von Bismarck, 2:68. 119 Voltes, 132. 120 Abeken, 253. 121 Saurel, 206. 122 Abeken, 254. 123 ‘Prussia’, The Star, 14.7.1870. 124 Abeken, 254. 125 Charles W. Dilke, The Origin of the War of 1870 (London, 1896), 38. 126 Istoria diplomatii, 563. 127 G.D. Elena Pavlovna to A.M. Gorchakov [ n.d.], GARF, 647–1–651, ll.5–6 ob. 128 Jonathan Steinberg, 329. 129 ‘Les Mémoires du Prince de Hohenlohe’, Le Figaro, 26.06.1909, 4. 130 Berthe Szeps-Zuckerkandl, Souvenirs d’un monde disparu. Autriche 1878–1938 (Paris: Calmann-Levy, 1939), 85.

10 Bismarck’s cures

The political arena is to him … a prize-ring in which the bigger man knocks down the lesser man and packs the stakes. —Sir Robert Morier about Bismarck With his honest, decent and intrinsically noble character … [Bismarck did not fit into] the good-for-nothing bluff of the diplomatic world. —Johanna von Bismarck

Bismarck travelled to health stations first as a Prussian diplomat and then as the head of the imperial government with many and varied responsibilities and concerns. As he believed that ‘one cannot play chess if 16 out of the 64 squares are forbidden from the beginning’,1 the spas he frequented – Baden-Baden, Carlsbad, Kissingen, Ischl, Gastein, Biarritz – might symbolize 6 of the 64 squares that he used in his game: personal assessment of his foreign counterparts, control and manipulation of his sovereign and his allies, influencing opinion, closing surprise deals and launching attacks on his enemies.

Odysseus to Penelope: Bismarck’s letters to his wife Otto von Bismarck shouldered the gigantic task of creating an empire, and the further he advanced in it, the more he feared that his enterprise might be foiled by opposition or circumstances, or by his own premature death. A pessimist by nature, he was prone to depression and to attacks of rage when encountering resistance. He was at loggerheads with many German statesmen and several members of the imperial family; he was worn out by frequent travel and also by overeating, overdrinking and smoking. As a result, he suffered from stress and hypertension when still in his 30s. He was sceptical about physicians’ advice, as he was about everything else, but systematically took spa cures. Bismarck’s career took him first to Berlin, then to Frankfurt, St. Petersburg, Paris, back to Berlin, while his wife Johanna remained at their country estate. It follows from his letters that Johanna, a daughter of a provincial gentry family, did not like ‘great society’. It pained her to spend considerable sums of money

248  Business of Europe on travel and lodging in the big cities and fashionable spas where her husband had to be and which she did not enjoy. So, she stayed home with the children. As Bismarck was a great diplomat, it is difficult to say whether this arrangement answered to her inclination or whether he persuaded her that it did. When his family was still young, Bismarck wrote to his sister about a pending family trip: The nearer it comes, the more I see this as a ticket to the madhouse … I see myself with children on the platform at Genthin station, then in the compartment where both satisfy their needs ruthlessly and emit an evil stink, the surrounding society holding its nose. Johanna too embarrassed to give the baby the breast so he screams himself blue, the battle with the crowd, the inn, screaming children on Stettin station and in Angermünde 1 hour waiting for horses, packing up, and how do we get from Kröchlendorf to Kültz? . … I am, I feel, somebody to whom a dreadful injustice has been done. Next year I shall have to travel with three cradles, three nurses, nappies for three, bed clothes; I wake at 6 in the morning in a gentle rage and cannot sleep at night because I am haunted by all sorts of travel pictures, which my fantasy paints in the blackest hues.2 It seemed best for everyone that Bismarck travelled alone. When he fell ill, Johanna left the children behind and hurried to look after him. In 1859, he suffered from high blood pressure and fever, so doctors sent him urgently to Wiesbaden and then to Kissingen. Johanna reported to her husband’s assistant the progress of the cure: ‘dear Bismarck’ took hot baths, strolled around the lake, drank Seltzer water and listened to a baddish orchestra on the promenade. The couple walked to the casino, peeped into the gambling hall’s windows; back at the villa Bismarck lay on the sofa reading or listened to his wife play the piano. She did not leave him for a minute and admitted no acquaintances or visitors in order to spare his nerves.3 After Bismarck became the minister-president of the Prussian government in 1863, he regularly accompanied the king on his annual tour of Carlsbad, Gastein and Baden-Baden. His descriptions of these visits could not awaken either envy or longing in Johanna. Year after year he repeated that Carlsbad might have its charms in good weather, but it was not his experience.4 The view from his hotel room was indifferent, the acquaintances he met, boring,5 and he could not have a proper cure because of the workload. Bismarck was already a European celebrity, and fans often asked him for photographs, so he asked ­Johanna: ‘Please send me two dozen photographs of myself in plain clothes. I am in furious demand here’.6 In 1864, he was in Carlsbad to attend the meeting of the Prussian king and the Austrian emperor. Everyone knew that he was the mastermind behind the recent Austro-Prussian war against Denmark,7 and being the centre of attention was stressful. The weather was cold, and he contracted a catarrh, which he used as a pretext to shake off the people who wanted to talk politics to him. He announced that the doctor

Bismarck’s cures  249 forbade him to talk, so as to be able to ‘sneak through covered paths’ away from company and climb the hills.8 First he stayed at the Hotel Vaisseau Bleu, renting a house for his clerks, but shuttling between two places was a nuisance, so when the Austrian emperor and his suite left, Bismarck and his office moved to their larger hotel to save time.9 He slept in, but his secretaries got up at a quarter to six for a salutary walk in the vicinity of Carlsbad. Often as they were getting ready to leave, despatches or telegrams arrived and they had to stay in to read them,10 and work did not stop until eight in the evening. Bismarck spent evenings with the king and attended the little music parties Grand Duchess Elena arranged. Sometimes Bismarck helped her find performers.11 Much as he tried to amuse his hostess and her company, his exhaustion was evident. The grand duchess’s secretary wrote: When I see how hard one tries to govern, the pains one has to take with one’s superiors and one’s subordinates to make them see reason, the mortal fatigue that is caused by unending debates and petty everyday obstacles – I tell myself that ambition must be a chronic disease of certain natures … politicians are poor devils who torment themselves all their life in order to be spoken about after their death.12 In his letters home, he never once mentioned the war with Denmark nor the negotiations with the Austrians, but he complained of the cold and the rain. As he left for Gastein, the only oblique reference to his unceasing work was: ‘I shall make my stay in Vienna as short as possible so as not to lose too many baths in Gastein’.13 Bismarck did not like the narrow Gastein valley sunk in the mountains, and mountain climbing had no appeal for him. The Straubinger inn where he stayed was near the famous cascade, and the roaring of the water got on his nerves.14 To hear him describing his Gastein stay, it was a sheer waste of time: rain kept him from the prescribed walk after his morning bath; the dinners, teas and drives with the king left him little time for work.15 No one would know from his letters that at Carlsbad and Gastein he achieved his political object – a deal with Austria. At the last spa in the king’s circuit, Baden-Baden, Bismarck stayed at a suburban villa in order not to be overwhelmed by visitors. He conceded that the town had charming views, but ‘storm, homesickness and anxiety for you’ – his wife was ill – did not let him enjoy his stay. He piled on the descriptions of his torments: ‘[Count] Flemming [the Prussian minister to Baden] lodges over me, scrapes his violoncello, the Countess sings and Keudell accompanies her.’ He had hoped to have some rest before the king arrived but ‘huntsmen, inkstand, audiences and visitors whirled about me ceaselessly’. He concluded: ‘I must not show myself on the promenade’.16 He was a martyr to duty, or so his wife was to believe. In the line of duty he went out, met his foreign colleagues, and hosted bachelor dinners for foreign diplomats and their mistresses. But he derived at least some enjoyment from doing his duty, as one of his dinner guests in Baden-Baden, a

250  Business of Europe French actress, describes the great man prancing to music around the room with his hair tousled and shirt-tails out.17 There were other compensations, as is obvious from his self-pitying letters. He found the spa’s international feminine society stimulating. The type he liked was the opposite of his wife: great ladies, clever, beautiful and preferably musical. He did not talk politics with women and only tolerated it from Grand Duchess Elena because of her rank and her usefulness to his plans. With other women he flirted and indulged in emotional outpourings. He wrote to his friend Princess Leonilla Menshikova: ‘The last book I borrowed from you, at Baden, was the analysis of an imaginary wound in the heart of an egoist; today I am asking you to give me the recipe of the poultice, which a heart not egoist enough, proposes to apply to a real but incurable sore’.18 ‘A woman of that world would not have been suitable for me; I like her to associate with, but not to marry’,19 – he reassured his wife, describing his friendships with women. Early on, he explained to her that there were two kinds of jealousy: one was when one spouse suspected the other of lacking honour and constancy. If Johanna ever experienced this emotion, she’d better ask herself if she truly loved her husband. The second kind of jealousy was a blow to one’s ego when one was ‘put in the background by the preoccupation of the other party with some women friends, flowers, birds, books, dogs etc.’ It was a morbid emotion and to be suppressed.20 So, he wrote to his wife about Princess Obolensky: ‘She is so attractive that I ask for your indulgence to do homage to her now and then’.21 Johanna would hardly have enjoyed witnessing it, so it is little wonder that she mostly went to spas alone. She took cures, spending as long as 12 weeks in Homburg, but until well into their middle age they did not find a spa that would suit them both.

Biarritz In 1864, Bismarck wrote to his wife from Baden-Baden that the Prussian minister to Paris had just come from Biarritz and confirmed that he felt rejuvenated after sea-bathing. Johanna was to believe that her husband decided to take a short vacation on the Atlantic coast to treat his rheumatism.22 In reality, the diplomat confirmed that if he left at once he would find Emperor Napoleon at Biarritz. Bismarck made his first visit to Biarritz and San Sebastian in 1862, as the Prussian minister to Paris. Comforts were lacking, the weather was stormy and the local Basques spoke only Spanish, so he used Italian with them. At the hotel he observed the ladies in bell-shaped crinolines of all colours of the rainbow and coquettish straw hats, and primly criticised their flirty and brazen manners.23 The ocean water was warm compared to the Baltic Sea, and so salty and heavy that, he wrote enthusiastically, he could lie back with half his head in the water, as if he were in a bed. He basked in the sun and gazed at the white foam of the waves, breaking on the shore.24 Often he mentioned his company: ‘After dinner we rode along the firm beach in the moonlight at falling tide.’ The 47-year-old statesman felt rejuvenated: ‘[W]hat else can I tell you of this place except that air

Bismarck’s cures  251 and water are like balsam’.25 He promised, half-seriously: ‘I shall buy a country-­ seat here, on the heath, where we shall spend our old days – eating peaches and muscadine grapes as if they were potatoes’.26 Bismarck led what he described as a Robinson Crusoe-like existence with a group of Russians who arrived soon after him.27 During his recent posting in St. Petersburg he had made many friends, and at Biarritz he ran into the Russian minister to Brussels, Prince Nikolai Alekseevich Orlov, and his wife. Orlov interested Bismarck as a man familiar with the Russian high spheres and a well-­ educated, intelligent man. But his biographers believe that he was infatuated with Princess Ekaterina. Bismarck wrote to his wife: Since the arrival of the Orloffs, I live with them as if we were alone here. … We bathe in the morning, then go down to the rocks, lunch in a distant ravine behind the lighthouse, where I am at present writing these lines, seated on the grass next to a blue and yellow robe, and looking out on to green waves and white foam between two heather-brown fields. Large white seagulls with black wings hover and cry overhead. … A few pears, peaches and dogs lie about us. Orloff (you know him – ambassador in Brussels, with a black bandage over his eye) sits smoking and reading; his wife, like myself, is writing. She would please you also … very original, clever and merry … but civilized by her French-German education. … At three we bathe a second time, dine at five, go for another walk and lie on the heather in the sea-breeze until bed-time. … I have not been so healthy for six years as I am here now. I walk and climb all day like a goat, lie in wet grass without fear of chill, and each day I become a year younger.28 He dined every day at the Orlovs and in his turn arranged picnics in ravines.29 They bathed in the sea, and once Bismarck and Orlova, whom he called ‘my darling niece’, came close to being drowned but were saved by the lighthouse attendant who seeing their plight, threw himself into the water. To show their gratitude they stood godparents to his child.30 Bismarck’s letters to Johanna from Biarritz in 1862 were full of Ekaterina Orlova: ‘when you meet, you will forgive me for raving about her a bit’.31 He felt romantic and dreamy: ‘After dinner the Princess played to me. … Then we went, two ladies and three gentlemen to the lighthouse crag, ensconced ourselves in the heather and gazed at stars, waves and seagulls.’32 The Biarritz letters are different from the sour Carlsbad ones: ‘On the ride home, wonderful sunset, with glowing Pyrenees and half Spain on fire the other side of the sea, then deep, very dark-blue, and fantastic lace-work of boughs’.33 Soon he referred to the princess as ‘Kathy’, calling her ‘the loveliest of women except one’.34 He first came to Biarritz intending to stay for a day or two, then postponed his departure and after the Orlovs came he did not think of leaving.35 Finally, he wrote: ‘Day after tomorrow the Emperor comes … some politics will mingle with the idyl[l]’.36 It is the only mention of work he did during the 1862 Biarritz idyll.

252  Business of Europe In the autumn of 1864, Bismarck came with a political goal in mind, but also hoping for another miraculous cure and a meeting with the Orlovs. It was still summer at the seaside. He had breakfast on the balcony and watched the people on the beach wading barefoot in the warm water.37 Once again life was perfect: ‘Kathsch at work on Beethoven overhead, such a sky as we have not had the whole summer, and no ink in the house!’38 Bismarck’s meeting and conversation with Napoleon was unrecorded, but it was no less important for that: Bismarck achieved his goals in the war against Denmark without interference from France. His 1865 trip to Biarritz was also political, although he brought his wife and daughter with him. He knew that Europe would be watching and instructed his wife: you possibly cannot do without a maid, nor without dresses; for since you have the misfortune to be my wife, the newspapers will surely take notice on occasion of you and your attire. It is the misery of this position that all the freedom of private life ceases.39 He could be satisfied with the outcome of his meetings with the emperor of the French, but the Orlovs were not there. Disappointed, he wrote to Ekaterina: You know, Biarritz, is really a rather gloomy place. Next to you I used to forget or ignore its downside. Now I have been cured of my old illusion and I feel nothing but irritation and boredom. Only now I realized that M. ­Gardère’s wines are bad, that soda water has a metallic after-taste, that there is no ice at all, that all beds are too short and the bedding smells of mould. … I looked for a fountain of youth, but instead I aged by ten years.40 And in 1867 he wrote to her, affectionately and untruthfully: [W]hen someone speaks of the political significance of my trips to Biarritz, every time it makes me laugh deep inside, because I would never go back there if it were not for my darling niece! Poor things! They know nothing about Kathy and the Seagulls’ Cliff, they are looking in the wrong place, and think it is politics that lured me two hundred miles away from Paris.41 But politics it was, and he did not return to Biarritz for many reasons, including avoidance of new meetings with Napoleon III, whom he never compensated for his 1866 neutrality and because after the Franco-Prussian War he became one of the best-hated men in France. He retained affection for Biarritz and showed it in his usual cynical way: on several occasions he joked that he should have stipulated in the peace treaty that France would pay for his annual stay there.42

Spa acquaintances Bismarck’s intensive activity did not come cheap: after 1867 he was overweight, rheumatic and gouty and suffered from neuralgic pains in the face. He spent more

Bismarck’s cures  253 and more time either on his estate or a spa. His personal physician since 1879, Dr. Schweninger, specialized in dermatology, nutrition and balneology, which naturally brought up the issue of spa cures. Schweninger was a domineering man, perhaps the only kind that could manage Bismarck. It was rumoured that during their first meeting, the doctor asked Bismarck questions about his health, which the latter did not like. Schweninger, noticing the patient’s annoyance, told him: ‘Sorry, if you want to be treated without being asked questions, you should invite a veterinarian’.43 The doctor remained with Bismarck until his last days, accompanying him to spas. The chancellor was upset when his official duties interfered too much with cures; the more royalty there was at a spa, the more time he was obliged to devote to paying calls and responding to invitations. He complained from Gastein in 1871 that required breakfasts with William I and his royal guest left him little time for morning baths.44 ‘Princelinesses abound here’,45 he commented wryly from Baden-Baden. It was exasperating unless he needed to meet one of the ‘princelinesses’. Spa stays increased the king’s closeness to his best minister.46 Bismarck alienated him from his family and artfully played on the old man’s weakness by alternating bullying with sweetness. In Gastein Bismarck and William I had a violent argument. A few hours later William regained his calm and went for a walk. As he was slowly walking down Gastein’s only street, he saw Bismarck ahead. William stopped and said nervously to his companion: ‘Cannot we get into a side street? Here is Bismarck coming and I am afraid he is so upset today that he will cut me’. There was no side street, so William I kept walking on. When Bismarck was at a 15-step distance, he pulled off his black hat and asked: ‘Has Your Majesty any command for me today?’ William I, trembling with emotion, said: ‘No, my dear Bismarck, but it would be a great pleasure if you would take me to your favourite bench by the river, from which we get that lovely view down the valley’.47 At spas Bismarck observed and assessed his European colleagues. Decision makers were a small group who often remained in their posts for decades, and their personalities mattered a good deal. Bismarck’s adversary in the Ems episode, the French foreign minister Gramont, was an acquaintance from the days of Carlsbad cures.48 Bismarck knew that Gramont was a proud man with a quick temper, and it helped him choose his tactics in 1870. In private conversations, Bismarck gained insights that his ambassadors’ despatches might never contain. Besides, he relied on his power to dominate other men through forceful mastery,49 and face-to-face exchanges served him best. During the Austro-Prussian negotiations, he wrote to the Austrian chancellor that William I was away from Berlin and so had to be persuaded by a letter: ‘My part will be harder [than yours], because an oral explanation is easier than a written one, where I have to foresee all the misunderstandings which might arise.50 For that reason he wanted to be informed about the movements of the ­Russian Chancellor Gorchakov, another assiduous spa visitor. In 1867, the Prussian ambassador reported: ‘Prince … [Gorchakov] thinks to commence

254  Business of Europe his leave beginning of July, will go to Baden to drink the Homburg waters, then rest a few weeks and undergo a grape cure, perhaps on Lake Como’.51 These were opportunities for Bismarck to meet or to keep an eye on him through others.

Bismarck in Gastein, St. Petersburg and Kissingen After 1871, France sought to form ‘a system of alliances by which it could regain on the political chessboard the position it had occupied prior to 1870’.52 France’s hope became a Franco-Russian alliance, which would protect France and threaten Germany from the east and the west. The implications of a new empire on the continent gradually seeped through the clouds of sentimental illusion in the head of Alexander II and his advisers. Further expansion of the German empire’s power would weaken Russia’s position in Europe. Russia could not safely pursue its contest with Britain in Asia without a European ally and would welcome an alliance with Germany, but Bismarck realized that it would entail letting Russia eventually annihilate Austria-Hungary.53 He did not want to depend on Russia as Germany’s only partner. In the autumn of 1871, a triumphant Bismarck crossed Germany on the way to Gastein. He was the hero of the new Germany, and at every station the train was greeted by crowds shouting Hoch!54 In Gastein Bismarck and his staff joined the King-Emperor William I. Once again Bismarck stayed at the Straubinger inn. Every day he took hot baths, strolled and dined with the emperor and his suite.55 The new Austrian Chancellor von Beust was there, so Bismarck had three weeks for meetings and discussions with him.56 Beust concluded that the German chancellor wanted durable, good relations with Austria and a reciprocal recognition that they would support each other against third parties. As for Russo-German relations, Bismarck said that Germany could not afford to spoil them for Austria’s sake, but he hoped that friendship with Austria would make him more independent of Russia.57 Beust left Gastein relieved, but Bismarck was so tired that in Baden-Baden, his next destination, he received no one for a week.58 In May 1873, William I, Bismarck and Field-Marshal von Moltke signed a military convention at St. Petersburg. It stipulated that if Germany or Russia were attacked by another power, the other ally would come to its aid. A month later ­Alexander II invited Austria to sign an Austro-Russian convention. ­After ­Germany subscribed to it later, it became informally known as the Three ­Emperors’ League.59 Now Bismarck began to worry that if Austro-Russian relations became too good, they might coalesce with France against Germany.60 He put into practice the ideas he would formulate in his famous 1877 Kissingen Diktat: Germany was to stay at the centre of European powers and by pulling the strings prevent alliances of great powers against Germany, so that ‘all powers, except France, need us and their reciprocal [bad] relations keep them as much as possible from coalescing against us’.61

Bismarck’s cures  255 Bismarck prodded Russia to look for diplomatic gains in the Balkans, where it would certainly collide with Austria, but to avert an armed conflict Bismarck thought to have the Balkans divided into spheres of influence.62 He proposed to Gorchakov his help in the Eastern question in exchange for Russian neutrality in case of a Franco-German war. But unlike the case in 1870 Gorchakov was evasive:63 another defeat of France would consolidate German domination of the continent.

Russo-German hostility In 1874, the French paid off the war reparations; in 1875, they increased the army, and almost at once a German official told the French ambassador in Berlin Élie de Gontaut-Biron that a preventive war would be justified if France continued to rearm. The French reacted by appealing to Europe: on 6 May The Times published an article titled ‘A French Scare’. On 13 May during Alexander II’s improvised visit to Berlin, Gorchakov and the British ambassador in Berlin Odo Russell tried to get Bismarck to declare that Germany had no intention of attacking France. The chancellor refused to offer guarantees but desisted from a preventive attack. For the first time in his career, Bismarck capitulated, and he hated Gorchakov for it,64 the more so because later Gorchakov boasted that he had saved France. When he heard about it, the Austro-Hungarian chancellor Gyula Andrassy exclaimed: ‘Bismarck will never forgive him!’ and performed three handstands on his office table.65 Next, the bloody Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 ended in Russia’s victory, but the empire had no strength to reap its fruits. At the Berlin Congress of 1878, a settlement between Russia and the Great Powers was negotiated under ­Bismarck’s chairmanship. It tied Russia’s hands in the Middle East.66 The ­Russians realized that after almost of a century of friendship, they could not count on Berlin’s diplomatic support in their disputes with other powers.67 Russo-German relations deteriorated, and Bismarck was the first to act against Russia by waging a trade war and ordering his representatives in the international Danube commission to vote against Russian proposals. Russian newspapers and Bismarck’s ‘reptile press’ accused each other of ingratitude. Bismarck spoke about Gorchakov’s ­‘senile hatred’.68 Germany was arming and complaining about Russia’s sinister plotting, and as F. Roy Bridge said, ‘If Russia did nothing, then she was accused of even more underhand designs’.69 In August 1879, German newspapers wrote that Russia, France and Italy were preparing to attack Austria and Germany. From his French seaside home the British Foreign Secretary Lord Salisbury wrote to Disraeli: [W]hat Bismarck’s motive [in spreading this rumour] is is still mysterious. Karolyi [the Austrian ambassador] used the strange expression, ‘Bismarck was frightened at what he saw of Russia’s intentions’, but Russia does not seem to be in a condition to frighten anybody. I am rather tempted to believe … that Bismarck will continue to be frightened at something or other till the next military budget has been passed.70

256  Business of Europe

Saburov’s Kissingen overture At this moment of tension between Russia and Germany, the 45-year-old Russian minister to Athens, Petr Aleksandrovich Saburov, came to Kissingen for a cure with his family. His superiors believed he had a promising future, although sometimes he was inclined to place his ambitions above the interests of his country.71 Every morning Saburov took his little son for a walk. He bought rubber balls, threw them into the river, and then they tried to catch them as the balls were drifting by. Once they met a tall old man in a black frock-coat, an old-fashioned white cravat and a soft black Homburg hat. Saburov bowed and whispered to his son: ‘It’s Bismarck!’ Saburov-junior recalled: ‘The old man took off his hat and I saw the celebrated bald dome which had transformed the map of Europe’72 Saburov made a habit of meeting Bismarck every day for a stroll and a chat. Later, explaining how this sudden friendship was born in Kissingen, Saburov assured the vice-minister N. K. Giers that his intention had been merely to leave his card with Bismarck, but then the chancellor approached Saburov with quite unusual cordiality and they began to spend much time together.73 Giers, who knew the ambitious Saburov well, understood what had happened: the former Russian minister to Athens, ‘by one of those miraculous coincidences which even the greatest of aesculapians cannot predict, had the same illness as Bismarck and had to undergo the same cure and, especially, at the same time, the same hours and in the same place as Bismarck’.74 Saburov was concerned about Russia’s diplomatic isolation during the Berlin Congress, which he compared to the situation after the defeat in the Crimean War. He wrote from Kissingen to his colleague: Now we need to plug the holes in our pockets, balance the domestic circumstances and external circumstances, make others forget about us abroad, in short, ‘recover’, because such is always Russia’s destiny: victorious or defeated, she has to recover.75 But Russia could only focus on an economic and financial recovery if its relations with the neighbouring empires permitted it. In Kissingen, Saburov sounded Bismarck’s disposition to turn Russo-German relations around and tried to convince his chiefs that he was the man for the enviable post of the ambassador in Berlin. Bismarck talked to Saburov in order to let the Russian emperor and the foreign ministry know his views. Bismarck reminded him that Germany had honestly repaid its 1870 debt to Russia in 1877 when it prevented Austrian movement on Russia’s flank. He even said – now that the moment had passed – that he could have helped Russia in the final stage of its war with Turkey to agree with Vienna and isolate England, if only Russia had told him it wanted to resolve the Straits issue by arms.76 Bismarck claimed that he had always been a friend of Russia, but ‘Russia was ungrateful’, Gorchakov treated him as a menial and he saw no reason to support it.77

Bismarck’s cures  257 Saburov concluded that the chancellor was hurt by Russia’s open displeasure with him after the congress: ‘Berlin is beginning to think we do not value the traditional dual entente and are seeking new combinations’. He thought that unless Russia changed its stance, it would come to regret its support of Prussia in 1870. If Bismarck became convinced of Russia’s hostility, he would find new allies.78 Alexander II read Saburov’s letters on the eve of a meeting with his uncle, ­William I. During the meeting he apologized for his earlier angry letter and asked William to consider that it had never been written. Alexander II read to his uncle one of Saburov’s letters about his friendly exchanges with Bismarck. William happily declared that now the air was cleared, Russo-German friendship was safe and Austria would join them. The emperors agreed to blame the newspapers for distancing their two nations.79 Russia also accepted that the German members of the Danube commission would not support them against other powers’ representatives. As a result, two years later a Russian member wrote: ‘It is harder and harder for us to control Austria’s activity’.80 Gorchakov planned to post Saburov to Switzerland81 or to Constantinople.82 Thanks to Kissingen, Alexander II recalled his ambassador to Berlin, Pavel ­Petrovich Oubril, who privately referred to Bismarck as ‘the modern Attila’, and appointed Saburov, hoping that his friendship with Bismarck would help smooth Russo-German relations. But Bismarck was not done with neutralizing the ­Russian menace.

The Gastein Convention In the summer of 1879, diplomats were at spas as usual. The Russian minister to Saxony, Aleksandr Nelidov, came to Ischl from Kissingen and wrote that he was very pleased with his stay: ‘[T]he nature is varied and picturesque, the promenades shady and there are no acquaintances. … I could wish for some company … but no tedious obligations towards elderly Austrian ladies’. Andrassy was there, too, watched by other diplomats.83 He wrote to Bismarck from Ischl, suggesting a new alliance directed against Russia.84 Then he travelled to Gastein to discuss the alliance with Bismarck and telegraphed to Francis Joseph from there: [W]e discussed a defensive agreement, something like a mutual insurance between our two sovereigns, stipulating that an attack on either of the two states, would be countered by their combined forces, and that casus foederis would act also in the case of an attack on either of the two states by a third state assisted by Russia. He explained: Even now, immediately after the war … which financially and militarily has bled Russia white … they can hold over Germany the threat of France and over us their increased army … so, what can we not expect when the war wounds heal?85

258  Business of Europe After Andrassy’s departure, Bismarck wrote to him: It will be extremely hard for his Majesty to admit the necessity to make a choice between two neighbouring empires, and therefore he will persist to the last in closing his mind to the idea that it is time to make this choice. William II might prove difficult because he thought that his meeting with ­Alexander II had smoothed all Russo-German problems.86 Bismarck could have gone to Berlin and personally persuaded the emperor, but he decided to present William I with a fait accompli and announced that he needed to finalize his cure ‘in order to be ready for the trials of the coming winter’.87 So, instead of asking for the emperor’s permission to open negotiations, he wrote to the state secretary: Please report to His Majesty that I promised Count Andrassy to return his visit in Vienna on my way back. Should I write him now that His Majesty forbade it? I cannot assume the responsibility for the political consequences of such a declaration in Vienna, considering the state of affairs. Therefore, I find it necessary two weeks from now to make the return trip via Vienna.88 When William I learned about the Gastein deal, he protested that he knew for certain that Alexander II was not planning to make war on Germany, and there was no need for an anti-Russian alliance. He was upset because Bismarck told him that Germany should maintain the appearance of friendship with Russia but at the same time coalesce against Russia with Austria, Britain and perhaps even France. But it was too late because Bismarck informed him that the Austrian emperor had already accepted the alliance. William I appealed to Bismarck: Put yourself in my place for a moment. I am meeting a personal friend, a close relative and ally, in order to clear a few impulsively written and certainly misunderstood phrases in a letter, and our meeting renders a positive result. How can I at the same time be negotiating a hostile coalition against this monarch, or in other words, act behind his back in a sense contrary to that in which I talked with him? But they both knew that the lamentations and protests would be ignored, and the emperor wrote: ‘However, I cannot disavow you and the steps which you have already taken.’ He authorized Bismarck to go to Vienna for discussions but not to sign a convention.89 The next day, he added: [T]the St Petersburg convention [of 1873] commits Prussia and Russia to assist each other if one of them is attacked. The convention you propose has to include an identical clause, but against Russia. How can we harmonize them?90

Bismarck’s cures  259 Bismarck dismissed this and wrote to Andrassy: I managed to achieve, in principle, His Imperial Majesty’s consent to the ideas which I expressed in our consultations here. …I am fully authorized … to propose a defensive alliance between Austria-Hungary and the German empire, without stipulating any conditions, for a definite or indefinite term.91 Andrassy wanted the terms of the treaty to remain secret.92 William I reproached Bismarck that his opinions had been disregarded and he felt like a traitor. To placate him, Bismarck suggested that if war with Russia ever became a possibility, he would inform Russia about this treaty. The emperor answered that informing Russia at the last moment would only look provocative.93 Summer spa migrations, keeping Bismarck, Andrassy and their respective sovereigns far from each other, helped Bismarck to achieve his goal quietly, away from the press and the diplomatic corps in both capitals, and then spring it on William I as a done deal. At that stage, the emperor would not risk the relations with Austria by turning it down. The Gastein convention was signed in October 1879. By choosing the weaker Austria, Bismarck prevented an eventual Austro-Franco-British coalition.94 He drafted an answer that William I was to give if Alexander II asked him about it: ‘Our agreement with Austria is no more threatening to our neighbours than a fortress on the frontier’.95

Bismarck’s warning from Gastein After Andrassy’s departure, Bismarck continued his cure. Among the few people he met with was a French archbishop,96 whom the chancellor used to send a message to his adversaries. At the time, Bismarck feared that his numerous enemies in Germany would join forces with Catholic France, Catholic Austria and the ­Vatican in order to undo his work. Partly to counter this threat, he encouraged Austria’s ambitions in the Balkans, isolated France diplomatically and inaugurated a struggle against the Catholic Church in Germany.97 The papal nuncio in Austria, Mgr. Jacobini, asked for a meeting at Gastein to discuss this alarming situation. ­Bismarck decided to talk with Archbishop Vallet prior to the nuncio’s arrival. Throughout the conversation, the Frenchman was struck by the fact that ­Bismarck had obviously rehearsed all his monologues. The conversation began with small talk about Bismarck’s dog that followed him into the drawing-room. After banalities, such as ‘The more I know men the more I love my dog’, the chancellor asked if the prelate was pleased with his stay at Gastein. Then the prince launched into a monologue: Waters here are marvellous, but circumstances have always prevented them from working on my health. The first time I came to Gastein was in 1863. I had a grave concern, the fate of Poland. Finally I succeeded in resolving this difficulty to everyone’s satisfaction.

260  Business of Europe ‘Except Poland’s, prince,’ his interlocutor said. Bismarck protested: ‘It was not about Poland’s satisfaction, but about the peace in Europe. And it’s been achieved. Today I am as uneasy as in 1863. The reason is Russia. Do you know Gorchakov?’ The Frenchman said he did not. But you know the Balkans? Well, Gorchakov and the Balkans are one and the same thing. Ever since I began to participate in European conferences, we only discuss giving the Balkans to M. Gorchakov. … One thing is certain: he will not get the Balkans. … My health is bad, I plan to retire and if Gorchakov wants war, let him have it. For the sake of Europe’s peace I’ve just made an alliance with Austria, Count Andrassy came here for this purpose.98 Bismarck explained that it was impossible to defeat Russia without an alliance with Austria. He threw in a threat to France: ‘If … the men who at the moment are in power in France, succumb to Russia’s wily solicitations and seek a counter-­ alliance, in this case I am besides, certain of Britain’s support’.99 Vallet asked if Bismarck intended to make peace with the Catholic Church. After a silence, rocking back and forth on the sofa, Bismarck started on another prepared speech, and Vallet thought that it was possibly the reason why he had wanted this meeting. He said that he had no intention of making concessions to the Vatican, and they should better seize this moment to settle while the conservatives had the upper hand in Germany. ‘In politics one is not the master of events, all the science of politics is in turning the events to one’s advantage’.100 By stating his inflexibility, he warned the other side to be more pliable in the coming conversations. Later that evening, Vallet recorded the conversation and sent it to Rome.101 Bismarck’s warnings to Russia and France reached European chancelleries courtesy of the Vatican.

Russians read the Gastein Convention Russia’s position was difficult: ‘There is nothing to expect from the French. … We have tried with all the regimes, none of the ententes has worked’, Aleksandr Genrikhovich Jomini, the assessor of the Russian foreign minister, wrote.102 The Gastein convention, although it was communicated to Alexander II by his uncle without its anti-Russian clause, alarmed the Russian foreign ministry. Jomini analyzed the bowdlerized text: ‘an entente to protect peace’ meant an agreement to fight external attacks. The only places where Germany and Austria conceivably expected attacks were a French attack in Alsace-Lorraine or a Russian attack in the Balkans. The commitment ‘to prevent complications arising from the unresolved issues of the Berlin Treaty’ was the same as an agreement to oppose attempts to break the provisions of the treaty. The only complications in sight were in the Balkans where Russia might have to intervene. Therefore, Jomini concluded, the convention was a barely disguised anti-Russian pact.103

Bismarck’s cures  261 The new Russian ambassador Saburov spent much time listening to B ­ ismarck’s monologues about European diplomacy and trying to learn from him. He ­admired Bismarck and believed that a genuine Three Emperors’ League was possible, but the old sceptic Jomini understood that ‘these gentlemen [in Berlin] exploit ­Saburov’s eagerness to achieve a Triple Alliance’. Jomini thought that Saburov should be allowed to work for friendship with Germany, but ‘it is up to us to keep our eyes open and rein him in’.104 Following long and difficult negotiations in June 1881, the three empires signed a treaty. It was called the Three Emperors’ League, but it was not an alliance. Russia got a guarantee of German and Austrian neutrality in case of war with Britain, while Bismarck succeeded in keeping France isolated. After the death of Alexander II and the accession of his son, Alexander III, in 1881, Gorchakov was sent into a long overdue retirement and his successor, Nikolai Karlovich Giers, learned that Bismarck was disappointed with Saburov. The ambassador did not wield enough influence in St. Petersburg to become an effective mouthpiece for Bismarck.105 He also discredited himself because on several occasions he exceeded his instructions and was disavowed from ­Petersburg.106 Saburov was recalled. Soon after. he sent a sad telegram on Bismarck’s birthday ‘Une planète éteinte salue le soleil’[An extinguished planet greets the sun] and received a courteous answer from the prince: ‘Les eclipses des planètes sont passagers.’ [Planets’ eclipses are temporary].107 But Saburov was a fallen star – Berlin ended his career. He was replaced in 1885 by a hard-drinking and jovial Guards General, Count Pavel Andreevich Shuvalov. He remained in Berlin for 10 years, signed two treaties, drank champagne with Bismarck’s son Herbert and was the pet of the German court, while Bismarck strained to manage Russo-­German relations against growing odds.

Juggling Russia, Austria-Hungary and France In the 1880s, everything Bismarck did was aimed at checking European powers so that no rival could challenge German ascendancy. In 1882, Germany and Austria-­Hungary signed a secret defensive treaty with Italy, forming the Triple Alliance against France and Russia. In 1883, Bismarck was in Gastein at the same time as the new Austrian foreign minister, Count Kalnoky and the ­Rumanian Bratiano. The observers correctly concluded that Bismarck was trying to attract Rumania to the Austro-German alliance.108 He succeeded. The Three Emperors’ League expired in 1887, and the Balkan rivalry between Austria-Hungary and Russia precluded its renewal. Bismarck needed to protect Germany’s eastern flank in case of a Franco-German war. So, after long negotiations, Bismarck and Pavel Shuvalov signed a secret Reinsurance Treaty in June 1887. The two parties promised to remain neutral in case of the other one’s war with a third great power. The exceptions were an Austro-Russian or a Franco-­ German war: Germany would remain neutral if Austria attacked Russia, and Russia would do as much if France attacked Germany. In 1887, Britain joined the Mediterranean entente of Austria-Hungary, Italy and Spain. It was aimed

262  Business of Europe against France, Britain’s and Italy’s rival in Northern Africa, and against Russia, Austria’s rival in the Balkans. Now all more or less important states in Europe were directly or indirectly tied into Germany’s system through the Triple Alliance, which Bismarck’s press called the ‘League of Peace’.109 But no matter what it is called, every military alliance is directed against the states that are outside it and its purpose is intimidation, to which the objects of intimidation will seek a counterweight. Recently William Mulligan contrasted Bismarck’s alliances of the 1880s ‘cast in an atmosphere of defence and restraint, with a view to preserving peace’110 to the commitments of the last two prewar decades, with their ‘increasingly contorted treaty obligations’.111 The Glasgow Herald took the same view in 1889 and declared the alleged Russo-French convention ‘the most serious among the foreshadowings of the great coming war’,112 ignoring the fact that it was a defensive reaction to Bismarck’s alliances.

Bismarck’s fall Bismarck’s position was as strong as ever: the old emperor psychologically depended on his minister and could not bear to cross him in any way. Bismarck was the national icon. From the pretty green Kissingen, journalists reported every day on his pastimes and state of health. The nation and the world wanted to know that the chancellor began to wear glasses but was very fit; he took two baths a day and walked for an hour after each.113 He never went into town, and no one was allowed to approach him because of previous attempts on his life, one of them at Kissingen. When he went for a walk in the forest, two dozen detectives and six gendarmes accompanied him.114 At the end of his cure, Bismarck was weighed, and the results were trumpeted by the German press as a tangible sign that Lord’s grace reposed on the great man. The British Penny Illustrated retaliated by comparing Prince von ­Bismarck’s 95 kg after a Kissingen cure to the 115 kg of the British Prime Minister Lord ­Salisbury after a cure at Royat and concluded with satisfaction: ‘Physically, … [Lord Salisbury] is, therefore, a greater man than the Prince – and, indeed, than any other statesman in the world’.115 Meanwhile, the Austrian and German emperors met at Gastein. It was a brief, friendly meeting without their foreign ministers. They embraced, chatted for the requisite half-hour, dined together and admired the fireworks; the next day at noon, Francis Joseph bade farewell to William in the square before the Kurhaus. The crowd surrounding them heard William I say: ‘By the Almighty’s leave au revoir next year.’ Francis Joseph answered solemnly: ‘It is sure and it is certain’.116 But it was their last meeting. William I passed away in March 1888. His terminally ill son Frederick III only lasted till June, and the authoritative, impulsive and fickle William II succeeded his father. He did not want the domineering old chancellor around, not when he inaugurated a regime known as ‘the Personal Rule’. As early as 1889, the French wife of the Danish Prince Waldemar, who closely observed the political stage, told the Russian emperor Alexander III

Bismarck’s cures  263 merrily: ‘Bismarck is kaput’.117 In March 1890, during a domestic political crisis, Bismarck handed in his resignation – a threat that had always worked with the old  emperor. To his shock William II accepted it. Bismarck’s son resigned in protest over the treatment of his father. The chancellor’s former assistant Holstein wrote that after Bismarck’s retirement and until 1906 there was no coordinated German foreign policy. William II maintained all sorts of conversations with foreign monarchs and diplomats, negotiated and corresponded with them following the dictate of his fancy.118

Bismarck in Kissingen In conformity with the tradition, Bismarck declared that he would live in strict retirement and left for Varzin. In his memoir, he complained that ‘after my dismissal one avoided entering in any kind of contacts with me – apparently in order not to arouse suspicion that one felt a need to take advantage of my experience and my knowledge of affairs and persons. I was submitted to a strict boycott and kept quarantined as a source of bacillae’.119 In August 1891 at Kissingen, a deputation of German students came to present Bismarck with a silver goblet and an address, as a protest against his dismissal. His son received the deputation rather coldly, knowing the emperor would resent the publicity. But then Bismarck appeared, accompanied by two black Great Danes. In his reedy voice, unexpected in such a burly man, Bismarck thanked the students, asked to have the goblet filled with champagne, drank from it and told the servant to pass the champagne around. After a short speech he walked around the room addressing a few words to every person. A crowd gathered outside and began to sing Wacht am Rhein. Bismarck came out into the garden to greet them.120 He enjoyed the attention and craved an audience, but he still hoped that the emperor would recall him, and so he abstained from risky statements. When his patience wore thin, he began to give increasingly caustic interviews, criticizing his successor Leo von Caprivi and referring to William II as ‘the young man’.121 He made it known that he was writing memoirs; William II fidgeted uncomfortably, knowing that he could not expect gentle treatment from the old man and that all publishers of Europe were impatiently waiting to bid for the manuscript. In 1892, Herbert von Bismarck informed Emperor William II about his coming marriage to an Austrian aristocrat and received a formal telegram: ‘Best thanks for your friendly announcement and heartiest wishes for your happiness on the occasion of your engagement to Countess Marguerite Hoyos’.122 The German press welcomed the news effusively and publicized the fact that the Iron Chancellor would attend the wedding in Vienna. The emperor instructed the German ambassador in Vienna not to accept an invitation to Herbert’s wedding and gloss over this event in his reports. He was to recommend the same course to the Austrian foreign minister Gustav Kalnoky. William II wrote a letter to Francis Joseph, asking him to ignore Bismarck’s presence. He said he had got rid of Bismarck because of his treacherous policies, such as concluding a secret treaty with Russia behind Austria’s back, and now

264  Business of Europe the old man was trying to persuade the world that he, William, was seeking reconciliation.123 Bismarck’s journey to Vienna was a triumph. A throng of admirers greeted him at the train station when he stopped in Berlin. They demanded a speech, and he answered transparently: ‘My duty is to be silent.’ When he arrived in Dresden, the town was decorated with banners and the authorities welcomed him at the station. During the night a procession of 13,000 torchbearers marched under the windows of Bismarck’s hotel and a choir of 1,600 serenaded him. The popular reception in Vienna was just as enthusiastic, but officialdom ignored him, with the exception of Kalnoky and several foreign ambassadors who met him at a family reception in the house of Bismarck’s future daughter-in-law. Bismarck saw off the newlyweds and then aimed the first salvo at the German government in a strongly worded interview to an important Viennese newspaper.124 From Vienna he travelled to Kissingen. The details of his stay at the spa were described in dozens of telegrams published daily in German and foreign papers. The Bavarian king received him as befitted a national hero: the prince and his wife stayed in the Kurhaus as guests of the Bavarian court and used court carriages for their rides.125 Ladies bombarded him with flowers every morning as he walked to the Kurhaus. A band serenaded him and his wife, and on coming outside to thank the musicians, they were received with loud and effusive greetings. When Bismarck and his wife attended a theatre performance, there was an ovation during the intermission. Bismarck became the object of pilgrimages. A special train was run on top of the usual five daily trains from Frankfurt to bring his fans to Kissingen. The famous pianist Hans von Bülow came expressly to perform for him. Several student corporations telegraphed invitations to visit their towns on the way home; others asked permission to visit him in Kissingen. A deputation from Jena University came in mid-July to tell him that ‘We know no difference between Bismarck of former times and Bismarck of the present’.126 An American-German admirer, Sydney Whitman, came to Kissingen to meet Bismarck. He saw a crowd waiting in front of the Kurhaus. When the prince walked out, a chorus of Hurrahs and Hochs rent the air. Women pressed forward, offering flowers, trying to kiss his hands. His doctor, who followed him, soon was encumbered with a load of flowers.127 When Bismarck visited in nearby M ­ unich the famous painter Franz von Lenbach, who had painted nearly 80 ­portraits of the German idol,128 a crowd gathered outside Lenbach’s atelier. Throughout July, the press followed excitedly the scrape between the imperial government and the retired chancellor. Through a popular German newspaper, Bismarck sent a message of thanks for the warm welcome he had received in Saxony and Bavaria. The two letters with instructions to boycott him in Vienna were published by the government organ Reichseinzeiger, and Bismarck replied through ‘his’ newspapers, with biting comments on their authors. He treated the official press attacks with grim humour: ‘It was I who taught these dogs to bark, and they now think that I am to be frightened by their noise, but they are very much mistaken’.129

Bismarck’s cures  265 Some newspapers criticized Bismarck for ‘breaking the pledge of official secrecy’ in speaking to reporters, but The Standard pointed out that no secrets had transpired so far,130 unless airing his opinion of the emperor and his ministers was a violation of state secrets. Kissingen allowed Bismarck the satisfaction of the last word in his dispute with the emperor. With every report from Kissingen, Bismarck’s reputation as a great man unjustly treated by a foolish and callous young ruler, soared. If first he said that he did not know why the emperor had fired him,131 now Bismarck told an interviewer: The speeches of the Emperor startled me, and I reflected during sleepless nights how I could keep my duty in unison with my convictions. In this painful position I had already fallen into the ‘cowardice’ of determining to give up my post, when suddenly I was called upon twice in one day, in terms that could not but hurt my feelings, to send in my resignation. He was dismissive of his successor Caprivi and called the new foreign minister, Adolf von Marschall, ‘a foreign minister who is foreign to foreign affairs’.132 Bismarck repeated: ‘Revenge is not my intention. I raise voice for the good of Fatherland’,133 but his apparent guilelessness was belied by many allusions to William II’s immaturity which made him easy to manipulate by Bismarck’s enemies. The old man told a journalist an anecdote: when William II ascended the throne he was told: ‘If Frederick the Great had found at his accession a minister of the greatness of Prince Bismarck, he’d never have acquired the title of the Great’.134 Bismarck implied that William’s jealousy was at the root of his hostility for the man who built his empire. When a visitor asked Bismarck what he thought about William II, he said after a pause: We are going to drink to the old Emperor; now, he was a gentleman. … He never had the feeling that someone was trying to steal his crown. … On the contrary, when one of his servants, like myself, was powerful and enjoyed general regard, he rejoiced in it. Because they were his servants. He was always at the peak of the pyramid. And that’s how it should be, or else one cannot have gentlemen in one’s entourage.135 Royalty did not stoop to answering verbal attacks, and those who on William II’s behalf attempted to retaliate did not have Bismarck’s prestige and were ignored. Once again, Bismarck knocked down the lesser man and packed the stakes.

Notes 1 Cited in Jonathan Steinberg, 133. 2 Bismarck to his sister, July 1850, Steinberg, 66. 3 Johanna von Bismarck to R. von Keudell, 12.8.1859, Robert von Keudell, Bismarck et sa famille, impressions et souvenirs, 1846–1872 (trad. E-B. Lang) (Paris: Ollendorf, 1902), 64–67.

266  Business of Europe Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 1.7.1865, The Love Letters, 403–404. Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 24.6.1863, The Love Letters, 381. Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 27.6.1863, The Love Letters, 382. E. von Rahden to E. Cherkasskaya, 28.7/9.8.1864, OR RGB 327/III–9–4, ll.75–76. Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 8.7.1864, The Love Letters, 388–389. Keudell, 148. Heinrich Abeken to Rudolph Abeken, 30.6.1864, 203. Keudell, 149. E. von Rahden to E. Cherkasskaya, 28.7/9.8.1864, OR RGB 327/III–9–4, ll.75–76. Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 20.7.1864, The Love Letters, 389–390. Keudell, 152. Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 6.8.1864, The Love Letters, 391–392. Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 1.9.1864, The Love Letters, 392–393. Marie Colombier, Memoirs. Fin de l’empire, 159, 174. Bismarck to L. Menshikova, [1861  ?], The Correspondence of William I. and Bismarck with other letters from and to Bismarck (New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1903), 2:95–96. 19 Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 4.6.1851, The Love Letters, 242–244. 20 Bismarck to Johanna von Puttkamer, 16.3.1846, The Love Letters, 86–87. 21 Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 19.4.1859, The Love Letters, 325–327. 22 Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 3.10.1864, The Love Letters, 395–396. 23 Otto von Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 7.8.1862, Horst Kohl (ed.), Fürst Bismarcks Briefe an seine Braut und Gattin (Stuttgart: J.G. Cotta, 1914), 446–447. 24 Otto von Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 7.8.1862, Horst Kohl, 446–7. 25 Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck 4.8.1862, The Love Letters, 362–365. 26 Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 19.8.1862, The Love Letters, 368–369. 27 Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 19.8.1862, The Love Letters, 36836–9. 28 Poschinger, 76–7. 29 Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 30.8.1862, The Love Letters, 371–373. 30 Alejandro de la Cerda, La Tournée des grands-ducs. Les Russes sur la côte atlantique (Paris: Atlantica, 1999), 43–4. 31 Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 19.8.1862, The Love Letters, 368–369. 32 Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 22.8.1862, The Love Letters, 369–370. 33 Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 22.8.1862, The Love Letters, 369–370. 34 Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 25.8.1862, The Love Letters, 370–371. 35 Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 30.8.1862, The Love Letters, 371–373. 36 Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 25.8.1862, The Love Letters, 370–371. 37 Otto von Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 7.10.1864, Horst Kohl, 496–497. 38 Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 7.10.1864, The Love Letters, 396–397. 39 Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 1.8.1865, The Love Letters, 405–406. 40 Bismarck to E. Orlova, October 1865, cit. in E. Topol, Bismark. Russkaia liubov zheleznogo kantzlera (Moscow: AST, 2013), 78 (epub). 41 Bismarck to E. Orlova, 1.5.1867, cit. in Topol, 98. 42 Voltes, 143. 43 Richard Koch and Naomi B. Laqueur, ‘Schweninger’s Seminar’, Journal of Contemporary History (1985), 4:758. 44 Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 2.9.1871, The Love Letters, 419. 45 Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 1.9.1865, The Love Letters, 407. 46 Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 20.7.1864, The Love Letters, 389–390. 47 Baron von Eckardstein, Ten Years at the Court of St. James. 1895–1905 (London: T. Butterworth, 1921), 17. 48 Bismarck to Johanna von Bismarck, 7.71865, The Love Letters, 405.

4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Bismarck’s cures  267 Paul Samuel Reinsch, Secret Diplomacy (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1922), 12. Bismarck to Andrassy, 3.9.1879, The Correspondence of William I, 202–205. H. Reuss to O. Von Bismarck, 7.6.1867, The Correspondence of William I, 2:138–139. A. de Chaudordy, La France à la suite de la guerre de 1870–1871 (Paris: Plon, 1887), 104–112. 53 Paul W. Schroeder, The Transformation of European Politics.1763–1848 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996). 209. 54 Keudell, 443. 55 Keudell, 444. 56 Comte de Beust, Trois quarts de siècle. Mémoires du Comte de Beust (Paris: L. Westhausser, 1888), 1:479. 57 Beust, 1:485–490. 58 Keudell, 446. 59 Keith Wilson, Problems and Possibilities: Exercises in Statesmanship 1814–1918 (Charleston, SC: Tempus, 2003), 98. 60 Wilson, 99. 61 Cited in Winfrid Baumgart, ‘Bismarck et la crise de l’Orient de 1875 à 1878’. Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine, 27, 1 (January-March 1980), 106–107. 62 Crown Prince Rudolph to M. Szeps, 9.8.1886, in Berthe Szeps-Zuckerkandl, 111. 63 Istoriia Diplomatii, 585. 64 Vicomte de Gontaut-Biron, Mon ambassade en Allemagne (1872–1983) (Paris: Plon Nourrit et Cie, 1906), 391. 65 F. Roy Bridge, From Sadowa to Saraevo. The Foreign Policy of Austria-Hungary, 1866–1914 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972), 66. 66 Charles Jelavich and Barbara Jelavich, ‘Jomini and the Revival of the Dreikaiserbund, 1879–1880’, The Slavonic and East European Review (June 1957), 85:523. 67 Tatishchev, 381. 68 De Saint Vallier to Waddington, 9.4.1879, DDF, 2:469–473. 69 Bridge, 111. 70 Lady Gwendolen Cecil, Life of Robert, Marquis of Salisbury (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1921), 384. 71 Cited in Charles Jelavich and Barbara Jelavich, ‘Jomini and the Revival of the Dreikaiserbund, 1879–1880’, The Slavonic and East European Review (June 1957), 85:525. 72 A.P. Saburov, Zapiski [manuscript], OR RGB, 667–1–9, ll.9–10. 73 Cited in Jelavich and Jelavich, 85:525. 74 Cited in Jelavich and Jelavich, 526. 75 P.A. Saburov to A.G. Jomini, 27.6/9.7.1879, BL, Egerton 3173, 95–98. 76 P.A. Saburov, Memorandum, 13.8.1879, Krasny Arkhiv, (1922), 1:64–67. 77 P.A. Saburov, ‘Resumé d’un entretien avec le Pce. de Bismarck à Kissingen, le 10/22 juillet 1879’, Krasny Arkhiv (1922), 1:68–72. 78 P.A. Saburov, Memorandum, 13.8.1879, 1:64–67. 79 William I’s Memorandum, 5–9.09.1879, Tatischev, 545–54. 80 Lev P. Urusov, Diary, book 1, October 1881, BA, Urusov Papers, box. 3. 81 A. Nelidov to K. Gubastov, 1/13.9.1878, IRLI RAN, 463–26, 54–9 ob. 82 A. Nelidov to K. Gubastov, 29.6/11.7.1879, IRLI RAN, 463–26, ll.83–86 ob. 83 A. Nelidov to K. Gubastov, 29.6/11.7.1879, IRLI RAN, 463–26, ll.83–86 ob. 84 Andrassy to Bismarck, 1.9.1879, The Correspondence of William I, 200–202. 85 Andrassy to Bismarck, 1.09.1879, Tatishchev, 536–539. 86 Bismarck to Andrassy, 3.9.1879, The Correspondence of William I, 202–205. 87 Bismarck to Andrassy, 3.09.,1879, Tatischev, Istoriia rossiiskoi diplomatii, 540–544. 88 30.08.1879, B ismarck to Bulow, Tatishchev, 533. 89 William I to Bismarck, 10–12.09.1879, Tatishchev, 560–565.

49 50 51 52

268  Business of Europe 90 91 92 93 94 95 96

William I to Bismarck, 15.09.1879, Tatishchev, 566–567. Bismarck to Andrassy, 20.09.1879, Tatishchev, 575. Andrassy to Bismarck, 03.10.1879, Tatishchev, 582–583. William I to Bismarck, 02.10.1879, Tatishchev, 575–581. Baumgart, 107. Tatishchev, 589. Mgr. Vallet, ‘Un entretien a Gastein avec Bismarck’ Le Correspondant, Nouvelle Série, 1906, 186:970. 97 J.C.G. Rohl, ‘The Disintegration of the Kartell and the Politics of Bismarck’s Fall from Power, 1887–90’, The Historical Journal (1966), 1:64. 98 Vallet, 971–972. 99 Vallet, 972. 100 Vallet, 973–974. 101 Vallet, 974–975. 102 A.G. Jomini to N.K. Giers, 9.9.1879, cited in Jelavich and Jelavich, 530. 103 A.G. Jomini to N.K. Giers, 7.11.1879, cited in Jelavich and Jelavich, 542–543. 104 Jelavich and Jelavich, 549–550. 105 Courcel to Jules Ferry, 29.2.1884, DDF, 5:227–230. 106 The Holstein Papers, 2:65–7. 107 A.P. Saburov, Zapiski [manuscript], OR RGB, 667–1–9, ll.9–10. 108 Montmartin to Challemel-Lacour, 30.9.1883, DDF, 5:94. 109 ‘Politicheskii obzor za 1888’, GARF, 568–1–55, ll.1–15 ob. 110 William Mulligan, The Origins of the First World War, 30. 111 Mulligan, 33. 112 “Behind the Scenes on the Continent”, Glasgow Herald, 18.7.1889. 113 The Standard, 16.8.1887, 5. 114 The Standard, 29.8.1887, 5. 115 The Penny Illustrated Paper and Illustrated Times, 1.10.1887, 211. 116 The Glasgow Herald, 8.08.1887. 117 M. Harden, Monarchs and Men (London: Eveleigh Nash, 1912), 20. 118 Maurice Baumont, L’Affaire Eulenburg (Paris: Edito-Service S.A., 1973 [1933]), 75. 119 Bismarck, 3:10. 120 Harry Kessler, 283–285. 121 J.H. Sears, ‘Bismarck and the Emperor’ The North American Review, v. 155 (October 1892), 431:510–512. 122 Cited in Louis L. Snyder, ‘Political Implications of Herbert von Bismarck’s Marital Affairs, 1881, 1892’, The Journal of Modern History (June 1964), 2:155–169. 123 Snyder, 155–169. 124 Snyder, 160–169. 125 The Standard, 1.7.1892, 7 126 The Standard, 14.7.1892, 3. 127 The Standard, 14.7, 1892, 193. 128 S. Scherbatov, Hudozhnik v uzhedshei Rossii (Moscow: Soglasie, 2000), 503. 129 Whitman, 197. 130 ‘Prince Bismarck’, The Standard, 9.7.1892, 5. 131 The Standard, 2.7.1892, 5 132 The Standard, 18.7.1892, 5. 133 The Standard, 2.7.1892, 5 134 The Standard, 14.7.1892, 5. 135 Kessler, 295–296.

11 Rapprochements

… in politics, like in the game of preference, what one player wins, others are bound to lose. … —Baron Aleksandr G. Jomini, Russian foreign ministry

Social and diplomatic conventions inspired various uses of spas. Ambassadors overcome by diplomatic illness disappeared into spas to avert a crisis; unrecognized rulers arranged discreet meetings with foreign dignitaries. Publicized spa meetings created a smokescreen around political moves; secret ones paved the way to reconciliations. All of the above happened during the buildup to the Franco-­Russian rapprochement, the Russo-Bulgarian stand-off and the balancing act of Italian diplomacy between the two European blocs.

France and Russia Books with titles like Why France Needs a Russian Alliance? regularly appeared in France after 1871, but Russia’s closeness to Germany made it improbable. In 1881, the president of the council of ministers, Leon Gambetta, said: ‘A rapprochement between France and Russia is desirable, but it will be for later, it is a reserve capital’.1 On the Russian side, one of the early champions of a French alliance was Baron Arthur Pavlovich Mohrenheim, who became the Russian ambassador to Paris in 1883. Whatever apprehensions Mohrenheim may have formed about the German Empire as a member of the Russian embassy in Berlin, they were encouraged after he was posted to the vehemently anti-German Danish court in 1879. The loss of Schleswig and Holstein still rankled in Denmark after 15 years. From Copenhagen, Mohrenheim wrote a long letter to his minister about the need to steer Russia’s foreign political course towards France. He declared the ‘imaginary … Russophile Prussia’ a phantom created by the official Prussian press to manipulate Russia. Mohrenheim wrote: ‘to my knowledge there is only one Prussia, the anti-Russian one’. He continued: Every time they make another step up the ladder, they give us reassurances, although they can increasingly act without our support. I heard from [the Russian ambassador to Berlin] Oubril that in 1866 after Sadowa, our friend

270  Business of Europe Bismarck was saying loudly: “Not only we have destroyed Austria, we have also freed ourselves from Russia.”… I can foresee an Anglo-German-­ Austrian alliance in Europe. It might be the next project hatched in Varzin to spread the Germanism in the Baltic region, Black Sea, from the Sund to the Bosphorus. Mohrenheim concluded: ‘The time of marching with Prussia is in the past: she has made all her acquisitions without having given us any real compensation. We cannot be of any use to her any longer.’ Only France could help Russia preserve the European balance.2 But the foreign minister’s adviser, Aleksandr Jomini, after reading the letter said that Mohrenheim ‘is under the influence of his Copenhagen environment. His impressions should only be taken with reservations’.3

Mohrenheim in Paris That Mohrenheim was posted to France four years later was due not to a shift in the Russian foreign policy, but rather to the fact that the diplomat was a personal favourite with Alexander III and his Danish wife, whose marriage he had arranged. Mohrenheim called himself Nesselrode’s pupil, something that described his style rather than his political outlook: he was courteous and amiable, spoke flawless French and knew by heart the works of French philosophers, from Descartes to La Rochefoucauld. He arrived in Paris with the blessings of the Danish royal family and letters of introduction to the large d’Orleans clan from Princess Marie of Denmark (born d’Orleans), a strong supporter of a Russo-French alliance. Jules Hansen, the Danish editor of the journal L’Europe diplomatique and an unofficial agent of the Danish government, volunteered to help him explore the mood of the French government. But Russia steered a course between France and Germany, so in 1883 Mohrenheim made no headway. Then a Franco-Russian diplomatic crisis took place, and after settling it, France and Russia found themselves closer to each other.

Diplomatic illnesses By February of 1886, the French ambassador to St. Petersburg, General Félix-­ Antoine Appert, had annoyed his government by his barely disguised monarchist sympathies enough that they recalled him ‘for health reasons’.4 When Alexander III expressed his regret about the ambassador’s departure, Appert answered angrily: ‘It is not I who wish to go, but my successor General Billot who wishes to come!’ The general and his Danish wife had become favourites of the Russian imperial family. Besides, Alexander had been offended when the French refused to surrender to Russian authorities two escaped political prisoners. So, the emperor’s heartfelt answer to Appert was: ‘Ce sont des canailles!’[Scoundrels!]5 Alexander announced that if Appert’s recall went through, the French government need not

Rapprochements  271 trouble itself to replace him, for he would accept no one else.6 In March 1886, Appert left; the emperor refused to accept the new ambassador nominated by the French government and forbade his foreign minister to mention the subject unless it was ‘absolutely necessary’.7 Alexander III’s stance caused anguish at the foreign ministry: governments rarely used their prerogative to decline a proposed chief of a foreign diplomatic mission. The agrément could be withheld, if the candidate was a national of the state to which he was posted, or a man with a tarnished reputation or hostile to the government of his accreditation. None of this applied. If Alexander persisted, the French eventually would ask Mohrenheim to be recalled. Relations would be broken, something that Alexander III refused to consider. He was a man ‘with a surprisingly uncomplicated intellect and did not admit any difficulties (or perhaps could not grasp some of them)’8 that might ensue from his actions. To avert Mohrenheim’s recall, Nikolai Karlovich Giers, the Russian foreign minister, decided to make him invisible and him to take a cure. The Russian ambassador pleaded diplomatic illness and left for the Riviera with his family. The German press commented that France’s and Russia’s interests were now represented by second-rank agents; the Russian press denied that Franco-­Russian relations had deteriorated. Outsiders imagined that Russia and France would not take things too far because they ‘have similar objects of distrust, mutual friends and at least one common foe’,9 but the nervous Giers, whose nickname in the ministry was ‘Mumbler’, was not so sure. He only hoped that Alexander III would realize that he was exposing Russia to isolation. At Easter Giers travelled to the emperor’s Crimean retreat to bring him up to date on foreign affairs and test his mood: it was unchanged. If the French once again proposed a nominee and Alexander III turned him down, they would break the relations. When Giers mentioned Mohrenheim’s delicate position, Alexander said that the ambassador might move from Cannes to another health resort, in Switzerland. Giers hoped that in time the emperor might see the light and sent a hint to the French not to propose anyone for Appert’s post.10 Mohrenheim went to Switzerland with his family. He wrote to Giers: [A]dding the expenses of a hotel life to those of our installation in Paris which I have had no time to finalize, would be too much. You said yourself that it is hard to set up a house and dismantle it every two years, and it quickly leads to bankruptcy, to which I am …quite close. You know, I do not like to complain, it is a failing of which I have never been guilty. But sometimes pain extracts a cry.11 At the end of April, Mohrenheim was summoned to St. Petersburg, leaving his family in Switzerland. Alexander III still ‘adamantly stood on his decision about not receiving a French ambassador.’ Giers wished the French would stop insisting on General Billot because Alexander III did not want him. ‘Give them a hint!’ Giers asked his assistant.12

272  Business of Europe In summer, the French government expelled the Orleans princes: the Russian conservatives interpreted their expulsion as a sign that the radicals were winning in France.13 Besides, Alexander III’s Danish brother-in-law was married to an Orleans princess, so he took it personally.14 The French chargé d’affaires in St. Petersburg, Maurice Ternaux-Campans, resigned because he despaired of improving the relations. The French embassy had neither an ambassador nor a chargé d’affaires. Meanwhile, Mohrenheim wandered through European watering places. He went to Kissingen, ‘the Mecca of the ambitious Russian diplomats’, the place from which Bismarck administered the foreign affairs of the continental Europe.15 Bismarck and the Austrian Chancellor Kalnoky were there discussing the Balkan crisis16 and invited Mohrenheim to participate in some of their conversations. After talking with Mohrenheim, Bismarck felt that a Franco-Russian alliance was more improbable than ever.17 In late summer, the young Count d’Ormesson became the new French chargé d’affaires in St. Petersburg.18 His instructions were to do everything to improve the situation without mentioning the issue of ambassadors. It was up to the Russians to settle it. Giers told Ormesson that he would alert him when the right moment came.19 If the Austro-German allies crossed Russia’s interests in the Balkans, Giers would persuade the emperor to patch up relations with France.20 Balkan affairs looked menacing in summer 1886, and Giers met with Bismarck at Franzensbad to discuss then. Mohrenheim was also there,21 on his third spa cure in four months. In September Giers told Ormesson: ‘Soon!’ and summoned Mohrenheim to St. Petersburg from a fourth cure in Germany.22 Giers persuaded the emperor that Russia needed France’s support. In October 1886, Mohrenheim returned to Paris.23 Paul de Laboulaye was posted to St. Petersburg24 where Alexander III told him during the first audience: ‘We need you and you need us. I hope France will realize it’.25

The Russo-German shift Soon after, the Three Emperors’ League expired, and Pavel Shuvalov signed a secret Reinsurance Treaty with Bismarck. Russia and Germany agreed to maintain benevolent neutrality in case of attack from a third power, except for an Austro-­ Russian or a Franco-German war. The treaty was valid for three years and would be extended automatically unless one of the parties cancelled it. Next, Bismarck renewed an anti-Russian alliance treaty with Rumania, which contradicted his Russian treaty. In June 1887 Austria, Italy and Germany signed a naval agreement, and Britain joined it indirectly by signing an agreement with Italy. Germany now balanced four practically incompatible treaties. The European ‘disconcert’ kept growing. To make Russia recognize Germany’s superior might and abandon all thought of an attack, in November 1887 Bismarck closed the German financial market to Russia and increased the size of the German army to 600,000 men.26 In June 1888, he had the text of the secret anti-Russian

Rapprochements  273 Austro-German treaty published as a warning to Russia,27 and a new army bill was passed in the Reichstag.28 ‘We are not sure whether there are secret commitments between the British and the League of Peace [Triple Alliance]’,29 the concerned Giers reported to Alexander III in 1888. Even those who favoured a German alliance realized that Russia might soon face a European coalition, and in order to stand one’s ground with the ‘League of Peace’ ‘one cannot do without allies’.30 A ministry official, Aleksandr Ionin, wrote regretfully: ‘We failed to restore the relations [with Germany] because the negotiations were drowned in the screaming in the streets. Germany responded by an economic war to destroy our finance and thus annihilate the menace.’ He mocked the Russian press’s ‘nervous belligerence’ when the Three Emperors’ League lapsed: “‘What do we care?” the newspapers said to this, “We do not need any alliances.” – All right, you do not need them today. How about tomorrow’? Russia needed to find an ally on the basis of clearly formulated political objectives.31 Ionin’s former colleague, Sergei Tatishchev, on the pages of the influential Moskovskie vedomosti and in memoranda addressed to the foreign ministry pointed out: ‘Since 1871, they [the Germans] have been clearly hostile and they intend to create an anti-Russian coalition in the West.’ Russia’s concessions would not reverse Germany’s arming. A French alliance was the only way of preventing a German attack.32 A prominent French diplomat, Alexandre de Chaudordy, in a well-noticed brochure, also stressed that a Franco-Russian alliance was the only chance for both powers to stand up to the Triple Alliance and to persuade Britain to join them.33 The French government prepared a rapprochement with Russia in various ways,34 ranging from opening the financial market to Russian loans to attentions to the visiting Russian dignitaries. In 1889, Russian war minister General Pyotr S. Vannovsky came to Vichy. Laboulaye warned his government not to provoke Germany: Although he wished for incognito I have to inform you that the war minister Vannovsky is taking a cure in Vichy. The reason [for his incognito] is that the German press might take it to heart. So, it is preferable that the French press should not write about it.35 War minister Charles de Freycinet and the chief of the general staff came to Vichy to meet Vannovsky. Their discussions were wrapped in strolls around the fountain, concerts and dinners. Reporters telegraphed that the French were with Vannovsky every day and Vannovsky’s son came to Vichy – allegedly with an urgent letter from Alexander III.36 The Times’s Vienna correspondent wrote that ‘[i]n face of General Vannovski’s visit to Vichy and the agitations in Servia and Crete … Russia should be asked whether it means war or peace’. The Pall Mall Gazette retorted: ‘This is really too silly’, as the events in Serbia and Crete had nothing to do with Russia and ‘General Vannovski has gone to Vichy to take the waters and complete his cure’.37

274  Business of Europe When Vannovsky moved to Plombières, the Wiener Allgemeine Zeitung assumed that a formal convention had been signed at Vichy, to be followed by a defensive treaty similar to the Austro-German one.38 His departure also invited attention: Officers of the 15th Regiment of Chasseurs à Pied assembled to bid farewell to General Vannovski, the Russian Minister of War on his departure from that place today. As General Vannovski entered his carriage they cheered him and raised cries of Vive la Russie, to which he replied, Vive l’Armée française.39 In 1890, Vannovsky was received at Vichy with the same marked cordiality: Yesterday evening General Vannovski, Russian war minister, attended a performance at the Eden. As he entered, the orchestra struck the Russian national anthem. At once the whole audience rose to their feet and greeted the general with an ovation, repeatedly shouting: ‘Vive la Russie!’. The general appeared very moved by this welcome.40 The least conclusion drawn from Vannovsky’s loyalty to Vichy was that the Russian government did not object to the French attentions. French newspapers found many lovable things about Russia, including its political stability: in Russia there had only been 3 foreign ministers between

Figure 11.1  U  do Keppler Jr. “The Peace of Europe Is Assured”, 1893. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction number: LC-DIG-ppmsca29153.

Rapprochements  275 1814 and 1895, compared to France’s 67. In the opinion of the political commentator ‘Whist’ [J-J. Valfrey], it proved that ‘the Russian system is surrounded by guarantees, like none other’.41 But the same numbers discouraged Giers: ‘Instability inside France reduces, alas, its international influence’. Still, he assured the emperor that France did not seek the Russian alliance in order to attack Germany.42 The shift in Russian foreign policy was not due to France’s courtship but to Germany’s miscalculation. In March 1890, as the Reinsurance Treaty was coming up for renewal, Bismarck was sent into retirement. German diplomats and the military talked William II out of renewing the agreement because they relied on the dynastic ties for maintaining the traditional close relations with Russia. At the same time, Berlin began to demonstrate interest in a rapprochement with Britain. Alexander III reluctantly accepted France’s overtures.

Preparing the Military Convention Franco-Russian negotiations took place in secret, but French society welcomed Russians; when Mohrenheim came to Ville Cauterets for a cure in 1891, the spa society hailed him.43 The Vichy authorities received the tsar’s brother Grand Duke Alexey so enthusiastically that he asked them to abstain from further demonstrations.44 It was one of the occasions that prompted Giers’s comment that ‘the affection of the French nation for us … is not always expressed in the form acceptable to us’.45 Giers took a three-month leave in the fall of 1891 to treat his health abroad. Despite illness, he held political interviews on the way to the Riviera.46 During the visit to Paris, he told the French that the tsar considered that for the time being the terms of the entente drafted in August 1891 sufficed.47 In 1892, he came to Aix-les-Bains. French President Sadi Carnot and the war minister Freycinet visited him after attending the Grandes Manoeuvres.48 The pretext was to greet the holidaying Greek king, but the arrival of Mohrenheim and the foreign minister Alexandre Ribot spoke otherwise. George I drove up to the town hall with his Russian relative, the duke of Leuchtenberg, to meet the French president. The crowd in the square shouted Vive la Russie! Sadi Carnot appeared on the stairs. A little French boy in Russia’s national costume presented him with flowers and recited a poem: M. le Président, Papa m’a dit que la Russie De notre France est l’amie. Voilà pourquoi je suis heureux D’etre vêtu comme chez eux, Pour vous offrir ces humbles fleurs, Hommages de nos jeunes cœurs. Vive la France! Vive la Russie! Vive Carnot! Vive la Republique!

276  Business of Europe Carnot embraced the child and declared: ‘I embrace Russia’.49 Conjectures bubbled up. One newspaper said that Giers and Carnot had signed a military convention in Aix;50 another expressed assurance that a secret offensive-defensive treaty was about to be signed.51 The French statesmen met briefly with Giers twice:52 he was too ill to discuss business, but he promised to speed up the ratification of the convention. The content of the Franco-Russian convention signed in August 1892 by the chiefs of staff in Dordogne and ratified in December 1893 remained secret. From the moment it was signed, the French side wanted it to become public – to commit Russia and to consolidate France’s position – but Alexander warned that he would denounce the convention if it were leaked.53 He did not like it, and his successor, Nicholas II blamed the Franco-Russian convention on Germany: after 1878 ­Germany and Austria formed alliance against Russia, which Italy joined later. Russia asked to join it but was refused. Then for fear of attack it turned to France. The Franco-­ Russian treaty was a purely military agreement which extended nowhere, according to the emperor, who ‘did not seem at all to relish the French’.54

Russians between French and German spas In 1896, a French newspaper mentioned the cordiality between the Russian generals and the French military mission at Nicholas II’s coronation and explained that most of the Russian senior officers were well acquainted with their French counterparts ‘because Russian generals almost always spent their leave in France. The war minister set the example by extended stays at Vichy.’ The paper drew a parallel between the Russians’ affection for the French watering places and the state of the alliance.55 In the 1900s, the French newspapers sections ‘Plages et villes d’eaux’ [Beaches and watering places] regularly listed the members of ‘the Russian colony’ at large resorts.56 By 1909, Russian visitors were so numerous at Vichy that city fathers were planning to build a whole Russian block with Place Alexander III, Rue d’Amiral Makaroff and Avenue Nicolas II.57 The Romanov family split between those who took cures in France and those who preferred German or Bohemian spas. Sometimes the Bohemian spas were chosen for family reasons: the family of Grand Duke Constantine Nikolaevich combined their visits to Schwalbach or Marienbad with stays at the nearby Saxe-­Altenburg, the home of the grand duke’s wife and his daughter-in-law. Grand Duchess Elisaveta Fedorovna, after Homburg cures, visited her native Darmstadt, where her husband Sergey joined her. In this instance sour references to the Franco-Russian rapprochement might imply additional motives for preferring Germany. Without turning their backs on German relatives and spas, Alexander III’s uncle Mikhail and his brother Vladimir loved French resorts. Vladimir’s children grew up on the French Atlantic coast, and when his son Kirill was banished from Russia for marrying his divorced cousin Victoria, he joined his relatives at Monte Carlo: his uncle Alexey, his mother Maria Pavlovna and his sister-in-law Princess Beatrice of Cobourg.58 Grand Duke Mikhail’s daughter and sons with their respective families were Riviera staples. In 1902–1913, the Vichy season

Rapprochements  277 was not complete without Grand Duke Paul, the Russian emperor’s uncle. They were part of the glamorous cosmopolitan group that reporters photographed at tennis courts, golf links, casinos and theatres.59 The exiled Romanovs knew better than to give interviews or make political statements. Not so the Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich the Younger, the chief inspector of the imperial cavalry, who spent winters on the Riviera. He and his wife, one of the Montenegrin princesses, Anastasia showed their unequivocal anti-German sentiment. In conversations with the French statesmen and the military Nikolai regretted that the Russo-French alliance was secret because if it became known that ‘the two armies will be one in wartime’ no one would dare attack France or Russia.60 Empress Maria Fedorovna began to come to the Riviera in 1891 when her younger son Georgy was diagnosed with tuberculosis. After Georgy’s death in 1899, the dowager empress regularly visited her favourite daughter, Xenia, at Biarritz. Her lady-in-waiting wrote that she enjoyed a new environment: ‘Many good-looking women, large crowds, diamonds, flirting, music!’, but because of the gap in age, upbringing and status, the plutocrats’ ostentation grated on the empress and her retinue: All the money kings – the Rothschilds, the Efrussis, etc, are here. They are throwing dinners at the Hotel du Palais, at 3,000 [francs] not counting wine ! Un luxe effrené. [Unbridled luxury] I have never seen anything like this in my life and I feel crushed and un peu degoûtée. C’est le vice doré.[a little disgusted. It is gold-plated vice]61

Bismarck’s system comes apart The Russo-French alliance was France’s first step. Next, in 1894 ‘Whist’ discussed the chances of an Anglo-Franco-Russian alliance. The new Russian emperor’s marriage to Queen Victoria’s granddaughter favoured it. It would be an Asiatic agreement which, he recalled, Count de Chaudordy suggested to Lord Salisbury eight years before.62 But French diplomacy’s next coup took place in Rome: Italy signed a secret treaty with France in 1902 which contravened its obligations to the Triple Alliance. Rumours circulated, and the German Chancellor von Bűlow, using his connections with the Italian political establishment, tried to verify them. The Italian ambassador to Germany reported that after returning from Homburg the German chancellor told him out of the blue that at the spa he had been told of Italy’s secret treaty with France. Bűlow waited for the Italian’s reaction. The startled ambassador denied it vehemently, saying that mistrust would weaken the Triple Alliance, exactly the purpose of France.63 As Italy did not intend to break with the Triple Alliance openly, the Italian foreign ministers continued to meet informally with their Austrian and German counterparts. These meetings were taken on the French and British side for symptoms of wavering Italian commitment to France or a double-cross. The British ambassador to Rome, Sir James Rennell Rodd, informed Lord Lansdowne in 1904 that everyone was mystified by the Italian foreign minister’s sudden departure for Homburg while Bülow was there. Rennell Rodd assumed that Bülow must have arranged a meeting through his Italian mother-in-law, ‘a very clever

278  Business of Europe and fascinating old lady in touch with politics’, in order to counter the French influence on Italian policies.64 To allay doubts, the Italian foreign minister warned his ambassador to France about a meeting that took place during the Franco-­ German crisis: [O]n Sunday I am going to Baden-Baden, where I will meet Prince Bülow. The visit is purely social, without the respective ambassadors. There are no pending issues to justify a political interview, and no chance Morocco will be discussed, Italy remembers her commitments to France. A similar warning will be sent to the French chargé d’affaires.65 French diplomacy continued its tireless activity, and in 1905 France and Britain concluded an entente. At once, the foreign secretary Lord Lansdowne heard from the new partners about the desirability of having Russia join them. They cited Salisbury’s 1886 or 1887 or 1888 Dieppe conversation with Chaudordy as proof that Lansdowne’s venerated predecessor had seen merit in the idea. Lansdowne became curious. He asked his veteran diplomats if they knew anything about the ‘alleged talks between Salisbury and Chaudordy in Dieppe’ and added: ‘They allegedly spoke of swapping Egypt for free hand to the French in Syria’.66 Sir Eric Barrington knew only that Chaudordy and Salisbury did meet in 1888 in Dieppe and discussed a Suez convention.67 Sir Francis Bertie corrected him from Paris: he heard that Chaudordy and Salisbury discussed a three-power arrangement to guarantee Greek independence.68 Salisbury’s papers contained no trace of the conversation, which the French found significant and Salisbury apparently did not.69 Britain entered the 1907 convention with Russia without the benefit of Lord Salisbury’s insights.

Bulgarian diplomacy at spas Spas showed their worth to Bulgaria during eight years of its diplomatic limbo. The Bulgarian Principality was created by the Berlin Congress, and thanks to Russia’s efforts it obtained a large territory from the Danube to the Aegean Sea. It was formally a vassal of the Turkish sultan but fully autonomous under a prince elected by the Bulgarian nation. Alexander II’s German nephew Prince Alexander Battenberg became its ruler. By the congress’s decision, Russia as the power that had liberated Bulgaria was to assist Battenberg in building the state structure and organizing an army. Russia had no plans to annex Bulgaria, but it intended to control the Slav outpost on the road to the Ottoman Empire. Russia’s Balkan interests required Bulgaria’s allegiance as much as Bulgaria’s consolidation required Russia’s goodwill. Yet Russia’s policy towards Bulgaria, considering the enormous loss of Russian lives in the war of liberation of Bulgaria, was counterproductive. The conduct of Russian representatives fomented suspicion on the part of Bulgarian statesmen that Russia would eventually deprive them of sovereignty. A Russian journalist wrote to Baron Jomini that the Russian government ‘had prepared a burden exceeding his strength for the would-be prince of Bulgaria’, when it charged him with creating a ‘Russian Bulgaria’. The journalist argued

Rapprochements  279 that Battenberg had had no one to lean on because Russophile Bulgarians who had been educated in Russia were radicals who hated the Russian czar, and European-­educated Bulgarians saw Russia only as ‘the knout’ and favoured the West. He blamed Russian diplomacy for losing ground in the Balkans.70 Jomini answered that the Balkan Slav states turned away from Russia after their liberation because Russia could not do anything more for them and turned towards the powers that could be either dangerous or useful to them. ‘There was no better policy than proclaiming oneself an enemy of Russia and the vanguard of Europe against Slavs’, which is what Greeks, Rumanians, Serbs and Bulgarians did. He wrote: [O]ur diplomacy has nothing to lean on: neither financial strength, nor commercial talent, nor Jewish greed, like in Austria. We only have our Orthodox or Slav sentiment which in our times is worthless, or our fist which we cannot put to use every time. … We need, above all, peace and tranquility, because we have much to do at home, and if we succeed in preserving them without seriously upsetting the balance, and if we manage to employ well the time at home, then, believe me, one day we shall be winners too.71 Battenberg realized that if he followed the dictate of the Russian generals, he risked losing Bulgarians’ support. He attempted to resist Russian pressure while secretly conciliating Bulgarian nationalists, who wanted to annex a Bulgarianpopulated province of Turkey, Rumelia. As he set out to defy the Berlin Congress’s treaties, he did his best to create an impression that he had the backing of the great powers. It would at least temporarily confuse the mutually suspicious European chancelleries and delay retaliation from the Ottoman government. Preparing his coup, Battenberg visited three European foreign ministers. In the summer of 1885, he went to his brother’s wedding with Queen Victoria’s daughter. He was received cordially and was encouraged to resist Russia’s encroachments. The prince made a point of meeting with Lord Salisbury, a fact well noted by the press. In Vienna he had a meeting with the Austrian foreign minister, Count Kalnoky. Finally, Battenberg visited the Russian foreign minister, Giers, in Franzensbad. Giers was ill, and doctors prescribed an extended cure for him. Newspapers wrote that he was leading a secluded life in Franzensbad, but it was wishful thinking. He interrupted his cure to attend an interview between Alexander III and Francis-Joseph II; Russian diplomats visited him for consultations; a Rumanian statesman, Ion Bratiano, came from the neighbouring Marienbad;72 Sir Robert Morier, recently posted to St. Petersburg, wanted to talk to Giers about ending Russo-British rivalry in Central Asia.73 Battenberg came to complain about Russia’s hostility. He said he despaired and wanted to abdicate and leave Bulgaria. Giers promised to speak for him to the emperor. Next Battenberg returned to Bulgaria, where for months he had had proclamations printed and disseminated all over the country,74 and almost at once Bulgarian nationalists staged an insurrection in Eastern Rumelia. The local

280  Business of Europe Turkish authorities were disarmed, and the leaders of the coup offered Alexander the joint crown of ‘both Bulgarias’. He accepted and entered the region at the head of his troops. Remembering Battenberg’s chain of visits during the summer, the Turkish government believed that he had acted with the blessing of Russia because no one knew what had been agreed on at Franzensbad.75 German and British newspapers, expressing much admiration for Alexander’s coup d’êtat, hinted that Vienna and Berlin must have known about it in advance.76 Salisbury and Kalnoky denied that they had known of his plans, but the fact of the meetings alone sufficed to feed later mutual suspicions. When Alexander III, by telegraph, demanded his opinion about the Bulgarian surprise, Giers urgently consulted with Bismarck. A Great Bulgaria with Battenberg and his present government at the helm would become anti-Russian. Bismarck suggested that Russia might want to restore order in both Bulgarias and so take Sultan under its protection, achieving a predominant position in Constantinople. Giers commented that it would be so if a word from Russia sufficed to bring Bulgarians to heel; otherwise it would require Russia’s military intervention, which was unthinkable. Russia wanted a conference of guarantors of the Berlin treaty to demand restoration of the status quo ante in Bulgaria. Giers hurried back to Russia. He warned his deputy. A.F.Vlangali, that the Russian press was to abstain from rejoicing and from charitable drives in favour of Bulgarian brothers. Giers wrote: ‘We need to talk to Berlin and Vienna at once, as it can spread in the Balkans to Serbia; Greece also wants to increase its territory and might seize Macedonia, then Austria will intervene.’ The ensuing chaos would suck Russia in. Giers knew that Battenberg’s boldness stemmed from his confidence that Russia would have to back him and ‘Russian blood would pay’ for his expansionism. Giers admitted: ‘we cannot give the Turks an opportunity to restore legitimate order in their own way’, but ‘[i]f we acknowledge it as a fait accompli, it will be in accord with Vienna and Berlin – based on our secret agreements.’77 Just as Giers had predicted, seeing that Bulgaria got away with violating the Berlin treaty, Greece and Serbia began to arm. On Europe’s insistence, a twoweek Serbo-Bulgarian war ended after Serbia’s defeat. Russian officers resigned from Bulgarian service, and the Russian government struck Battenberg’s name off the Army List.78 Battenberg became an obstacle to Bulgaria’s normal relations with Russia and Germany and was forced to abdicate. His throne remained vacant under the regency of the brutal ‘Bulgarian Bismarck’, Stepan Stambolov. The Russian General Kaulbars returned to Sofia and acted as a dictator, trying to set the Bulgarian army against the government. Russian diplomats tut-­ tutted about the general’s behaviour: ‘A general preaching insubordination to [Bulgarian] troops. … Either he is mad or the newspapers are lying’.79 When in 1887 Bulgarian regents invited an Austrian officer, Ferdinand Prince of Cobourg, Russia and Turkey protested, but Bulgarians ignored them. Russia broke relations with its former client state. Ferdinand accepted the throne of Bulgaria, declaring that he hoped to justify Turkey’s hopes and gain the sympathy of Russia.80 Russia and Germany declared that he was an illegitimate candidate.

Rapprochements  281

Prince Ferdinand Ferdinand was the youngest child of a German prince and an ambitious and intelligent daughter of the former French King Louis-Philippe. The Russian ambassador in Vienna, Prince Lobanov, thought the ‘little Ferdinand’ intelligent,81 but his reputation in society was quite low. A French aristocrat wrote, disdainfully: I know … of nothing more grotesque than this young prince with a long nose and a nasal voice – the only traits he inherited from the Orleans dynasty – who is always nursing an imaginary malady, covers himself with jewels, showers himself with perfumes and personally brushes the teeth of an old pug that he carries with him everywhere. Every dynasty has …these moral and physical runts. … His French relatives, who cruelly deride him, say that he is awfully nasty.82 Russia’s refusal to recognize Ferdinand prevented his recognition by other powers. Foreign diplomatic agents in Sofia received orders from their governments to ignore him and only deal with his ministers if there were urgent issues.83 He was alone in a strange country, with no political party of his own and barely tolerated. Stambolov kept Ferdinand out of state affairs. When Ferdinand disagreed with him, Stambolov by way of an answer pointed to Lom-Palanka highway visible through the palace windows. It was the road that Battenberg had taken when he left Bulgaria.84 As early as 1888, Stambolov secretly offered Russia to have the prince expelled in exchange for guarantees of Bulgarian sovereignty and a hefty bribe for himself.85 Ferdinand was lucky that the Russians did not trust Stambolov. The Russian foreign ministry from time to time proposed that Alexander III oust Ferdinand and restore Battenberg or his little son in Sofia as a puppet.86 These projects, described as ‘restoration of the legitimate order’,87 were leaked to the press and made Ferdinand feel that his throne was quite shaky. Ferdinand of Bulgaria despised his subjects. His remarks made the rounds of the European salons: ‘Ah! It’s Friday. Today is the market day. My good people exchange their bad smells’.88 He freely referred to them in the hearing of his foreign guests as ‘rascals’89 and ‘my flock of wolves’.90 But he valued their tenacity and courage, and Bulgarians valued his dedication and personal connections among European monarchs. Their relationship was purely business. During winter blizzards, Sofia remained without contact with the world. There was no society in the Western sense: a number of Bulgarian men from wellto-do families who had been educated in Vienna and Paris acquired a certain Western polish, but women – after 500 years of Turkish rule – stayed at home and saw no one but their closest family. Besides boredom, the prince lived in fear of assassination, locked in his palace, surrounded by body guards. In 1892, he complained to Lord Salisbury during a visit to London: ‘You will see that I will be slaughtered and there will not even be a priest nearby to assist me in my last moments’.91 When he went out, eight police agents accompanied him.

282  Business of Europe

Figure 11.2  Ferdinand of Bulgaria. Wikimedia Commons.

Ferdinand’s French secretary complained that the prince’s constant mood swings unnerved his suite.92

Ferdinand’s spa visits Since the age of 20, Ferdinand had regularly visited spas to treat real and imaginary illnesses and to meet his relatives. After his arrival in Sofia, spa visits became a welcome return to the world that had been his own, and also a way for him to remain in touch with European politics. While he could not expect an official invitation from a European government, he could meet statesmen socially. His destinations showed where his political interests lay, but there was some truth in Ferdinand’s protests against such interpretations of his travels: ‘How can they not understand that after this prison of Sofia, I need a breath of fresh air, some relaxation for my overstrung nerves’.93

Rapprochements  283 Every summer Ferdinand went to Carlsbad, the Riviera or Abbazia to renew the contacts that became all – important in his political limbo. Villa Fabron, near Nice, where Ferdinand’s uncle Ernest II of Cobourg stayed, was a different world from Sofia: ‘very animated, a crowd of cosmopolitan idlers … all under a shining sky and near the azure sea’. Ferdinand liked to talk to this ‘cunning and deceitful’ uncle who knew the secrets of all European courts and was an astute politician.94 In 1892, Ferdinand was pleasantly surprised in Cannes by the friendliness of a Russian grand duke. He hoped that it augured a shift in Russian politics, but he was disappointed. His French secretary Count de Bourboulon wrote: The prince is trying to be merry, talks to everyone and tries to enjoy himself. But his mood changes with every whiff of a breeze, an automobile which arrives late, a badly served meal or simply if he suspects that someone’s expression is insolent or lacking in respect. I am worried because his moods might be forgiven in Bulgaria, but they will make a dreary impression on this elegant and refined society.95 In 1893, Ferdinand went to Kissingen to ask for Bismarck’s advice on normalizing his international position. Ferdinand apologized to Johanna von Bismarck for taking up her husband’s time. He said, with charming candour: ‘Princess, I am so fond of governing’. Bismarck advised him: Play the dead. … You have shown the world you can float; don’t try to swim against the current. … Your greatest ally is time – force of habit. Avoid everything that might irritate your enemies … in the course of time, the world will become accustomed to see you on the throne of Bulgaria.96 He was right: Russian diplomats understood that Russia could not sulk forever while the rival powers in Russia’s absence were gaining influence over Bulgaria.97 They looked for a pretext that would let Alexander III end the quarrel. For example, Ferdinand might marry an Orthodox princess. But both Ferdinand and his mother were pious Catholics, and it was unlikely that they would agree to such a marriage.98

Meeting prospective brides Stambolov’s government insisted that Ferdinand had to produce an heir, so he asked Britain and Austria to help him find a bride. But neither Great Power wished to provoke Russia’s anger by bestowing one of their princesses on him. He had to look at nonroyal princesses on the Riviera. By 1892, he was getting desperate, and his French secretary Robert de Bourboulon feared that he would marry a French noblewoman. ‘She is sweet, but not royal and will confirm the reputation of a parvenu which the Bulgarian throne already has’.99 But family

284  Business of Europe connections helped, and in August of 1892 Ferdinand proposed to the Princess Marie-Louise of Parma, the oldest daughter of the Duke of Parma, related to the Bourbons and the Habsburgs. This diplomatic victory came at a price: the bride’s father, a devout Catholic, demanded cancellation of the clause of the Bulgarian constitution stipulating that the heir should be Orthodox, and Stambolov accepted. Ferdinand’s wife was not a beauty, her health was fragile, but she was intelligent and strong-willed.100 The couple conscientiously carried out their public duties and spent little time together. They took cures separately, and Ferdinand did not let his wife know his travel schedule to avoid the need for meetings.101

Soundings Their son Boris was born in January 1894, and in May Stambolov’s government fell. Stambolov had done much good, but his despotism and immorality made him the most detested man in Bulgaria, and Ferdinand realized that unless he let Stambolov go he would be ousted with him. It was also impossible to maintain for much longer the intense Russophobe climate that the dictator had created.102 The news of Stambolov’s resignation produced a storm in Sofia: crowds poured into the streets, shouting: ‘Down with the tyrant and lecher!’ He was almost killed on the way home.103 When the news reached St. Petersburg, Aleksey S. Suvorin, the owner of the influential Novoye Vremya, telegraphed Ferdinand’s palace asking for permission to send a reporter. Aleksandr V. Amfiteatrov, thrilled to be the first Russian allowed into Bulgaria in eight years, arrived at Sofia in early June and learned from the ex-dictator that in May his free-lance colleague, Sergei Tatishchev, had been in Sofia to talk about reconciliation. Stambolov said: ‘I do not know whether he was here on an official mission or was sounding us purely for the love of the sport’.104 Sorbonne-educated Sergei S. Tatishchev, a handsome and charming man and a former first secretary of the Russian embassy in Vienna, had been fired from the foreign service. It remained unclear whether the cause was being exposed in a scandalous love affair or leaking the secret contents of the Reinsurance Treaty to the pro-French newspaper, Moskovskie vedomosti. Tatishchev gained a reputation as a free-lance political commentator on international affairs for Russian and French newspapers. In his articles, he blasted Russian diplomats for betraying Russia’s interests. In his opinion, their errors were ‘rarely due to their lack of skill, but more often to bad inclinations and golden temptations’. At the same time, he never stopped trying to be readmitted to the foreign service. Tatishchev buttressed the pleas to take him back by promises of important services that only he could render to Russia.105 Suvorin considered Tatishchev ‘a very gifted man, but he spoiled everything for himself … because his tongue runs away with him’.106 The foreign ministry officials disliked him so much that when it was rumoured that Tatishchev was about to be readmitted, a former colleague said that in this case he would resign.107

Rapprochements  285 Tatishchev offered his services to the French108 and, apparently, to Bulgarian governments looking for a rapprochement with Russia. Tatishchev published in the Novoye Vremya several articles urging the Russian government to reconcile with Bulgaria before the country turned to Austria.109 He suggested that Russia should ignore the person of the Bulgarian prince and Bulgaria’s domestic affairs and pursue a military alliance with it in order to guarantee Russia’s interests and rights.110 Tatishchev emphasized that he approached Stambolov and Ferdinand on his own initiative. He was a perfect go-between: Bulgarians knew his sympathy for them and his connection to Lobanov. Besides, a Romanian diplomat wrote, ‘Like all intelligent Russians … [Tatishchev] was a most attractive talker. He had subtlety, imagination, wit and charm, and beyond this a sort of courage which enabled him to touch on delicate matters with perfect tact’.111 Like his former chief Lobanov, he was Ferdinand’s old acquaintance because in 1890 Ferdinand already knew him well enough to complain about Stambulov’s dictatorship.

Ferdinand at Carlsbad In June 1894, the prince went to Carlsbad, leaving Stambolov in Sofia. Like everyone else, Ferdinand drank the waters, went on walks, carrying a cane surmounted with a large carved handle, the fashion of the season for both men and women;112 he also weekly visited a pedicurist to repair the damage to his delicate feet caused by walking. The spa teemed with statesmen: newspapers announced the arrival of the khedive of Egypt Ismail Pasha, Lord Cromer, the British viceroy in Egypt and the British ambassador in Vienna.113 It was rumoured that the ailing Russian emperor was coming.114 While Ferdinand was in Carlsbad, rumours of his efforts to reconcile with Russia115 spread. Only Ferdinand’s secretary knew that the prince received excellent news: ‘Russia, which has been annoyed during the Stambolov regime, is now making overtures, but we are resisting’.116 Ferdinand was not certain that this sounding had the blessing of the Russian government and, careful of his dignity, listened, played with his rings, but did not commit himself. In October 1894, Alexander III died. Following an exchange of formal telegrams between Nicholas II and Ferdinand Bulgarian, diplomats began to ask their Russian colleagues whether Russia was ready to make peace with Bulgaria. The overtures were turned down. In February 1895, Aleksandr Nelidov suggested to Nicholas II that he reconcile with Ferdinand. The tsar interrupted him angrily, saying: ‘No, I will never agree to recognize the Cobourg. Let him go to …’117 Ferdinand tested the waters again in April, when his mother’s friend Prince Lobanov-Rostovsky, replaced Giers as the foreign minister. Ferdinand sent him a private letter: Prince Alexey Borisovich! Always and despite everything loyal to my old friends, hopeful that notwithstanding appearances my message will find in them the same response as in the past, recalling the enchanting hours I spent at the palace on Wollzeile

286  Business of Europe [the Russian embassy in Vienna] with the skilful diplomat, knowledgeable historian and tactful conversationalist, I feel duty bound to send him my most sincere congratulations! I dare subscribe to the all-European sentiment of trust and hope inspired by the appointment of the man into whose hands [the tsar] placed the direction of Russian foreign policy, and I am asking my old friend to remind the new foreign minister about me sometimes and give him my warm and ever friendly sentiments. Ferdinand.118 Just as Ferdinand had foreseen, Lobanov the minister remained silent, but Lobanov the ‘old friend’ reacted.119 In early June, Lobanov submitted to Nicholas II Tatishchev’s memorandum about his contacts with Ferdinand. According to Lobanov’s official version, during a chance meeting at a Paris restaurant Ferdinand joined Tatishchev at his table and spoke about his desire to end the stand-off.120 He blamed the fallen Stambolov for the hostility to Russia, and as a token of friendship121 wanted to send a delegation to place a wreath on the tomb of Alexander III. According to Tatishchev, Ferdinand wanted an opportunity to talk with the emperor or with Prince Lobanov at a spa,122 a neutral ground that would save his dignity. Lamsdorff noticed that Tatishchev’s memorandum omitted the date of this conversation. Tatishchev’s 1894 soundings in Sofia and Carlsbad must have been his own initiative. The meeting after Alexander III’s death appeared to have been endorsed by Lobanov. The minister persuaded Nicholas to receive a Bulgarian delegation as a friendly gesture. The Bulgarian government responded by organizing solemn memorial services for Alexander III in all the country’s churches.123 At the same time, Lobanov summoned Tatishchev, whom he qualified as ‘a rascal! But such a talented man!’124 and ordered him to go meet Ferdinand in Carlsbad. In July, Tatishchev published another article advocating the restoration of diplomatic relations with Bulgaria125 and left for Carlsbad.

At the spa Since 10 July, Ferdinand had been waiting at the spa. The town was crowded – almost 18,000 visitors by the end of June.126 The prince’s secretary wrote: [O]n top of all the medical procedures which cannot be shortened, we are being showered with ciphered telegrams from Sofia which we are barely managing to keep up with. There is also therapeutical walking, obligatory excursions. In these cures, strolling is not a pleasure but part of the treatment. Besides, Carlsbad is an ‘official spa’, full of diplomats, politicians, financiers, journalists, etc. We cannot ignore the people who signed the registry book and who sometimes timidly and sometimes brazenly demand an audience. At this moment a Bulgarian deputation went to Petersburg to make up with Russia, and it was received by the tsar. The delegation is made up of the most prominent Russophiles, … Sometimes the cautious prince asks

Rapprochements  287 himself: ‘Is this the right thing to do?’ The deputation asks Russia for a rapprochement and reconciliation. The prince considers that despite large and serious conflicts which separate our countries, Bulgaria is already firmly sovereign and does not have to fear, as before, that Russia will make it a protectorate, so there is no reason to quarrel with a brotherly country whose generosity is not forgotten. It is the main message that the deputation carries.127

Stambolov’s assassination On 17 July, two days before Nicholas received the Bulgarian delegation, Stambolov was savagely wounded by unknown attackers and for a few days lingered between life and death. Bourboulon wrote from Carlsbad: We got a ciphered telegram during the night. As usual I took it to Stoyanov, who deciphered the first line, stood up and told me to wake the prince. When the prince heard the news, at first he could not grasp it; then he made a sign of the cross and put on his black housecoat. Then he went to Stoyanov and waited till he deciphered everything. The next day all Carlsbad heard the news and the prince walked to the buvette to drink his water preceded by two police agents, amidst a hostile crowd. There were shouts ‘der Merder’ [murderer], but when the prince turned back calmly and looked, everyone ran away. The telegrams which keep arriving convey a savage joy which the prince disapproves of. He sent a telegram to Stambolov’s family, but has had no answer.128 Vienna and London, which had been friendly to the prince while he was at loggerheads with Russia, were displeased by the thaw in Russo-Bulgarian relations129 and their press accused the prince of having arranged Stambulov’s assassination.130 The Daily News called the prince an accessory to the crime and concluded threateningly: ‘Now he is awaiting at Carlsbad the end of the reconciliation comedy, which may however not bring him the answer looked for’. The newspaper advised ‘the phantom prince’ to remain abroad or he might be assassinated too, as a result of which Bulgaria would become a Russian province.131 Ferdinand wrote to the premier that Stambolov’s family behaviour and the accusations against him and his government made it impossible for him to attend the funeral.132 He and his retinue assisted a memorial service at the Russian Orthodox church in Carlsbad, but Ferdinand’s thoughts were elsewhere. Bourboulon wrote: ‘Stambolov’s assassination is insignificant compared to the negotiations with Petersburg and a probable reconciliation with Russia’.133 Ferdinand went for walks alone or with his friend Mme. Fuchs, who supplied him with the latest Viennese news. His secretary wrote: She is a Viennese Jewess from the second-rank Jewish society, the world of small finance and newspapers which does not exist for Viennese aristocracy, but it is the most powerful because the best-informed. Magda Fuchs is either

288  Business of Europe a pet or a daughter of the famous banker Palmer of the Lender Bank, who is a friend of [the emperor’s mistress] Katharine Schratt and he meets Francis Joseph every day. …So, Palmer is a power and Mme. Fuchs is a clever girl and a precious source of information. At the same time as he strolled with Mme. Fuchs in everybody’s view, the prince secretly met with Tatishchev in the vicinity of Carlsbad. His secretary wrote: The prince did not tell me anything and I did not ask him about these carefully concealed meetings. … But he is trembling with fear that Russians will cheat him or will set a trap, so despite a strong desire to succeed, he can only rely on his common sense, mistrustfulness and wisdom, one may say, in order not to embark on a risky adventure and find himself in an impasse. To Ferdinand’s question as to what he could do to make peace with the emperor, Tatishchev suggested that he could have his heir convert to Orthodoxy. Ferdinand objected: ‘When my son comes of age he will do as he likes, but today I could not possibly initiate his conversion’. Then the prince worried that if Bulgarians learned that he had turned down the Russian demand they would think that he sacrificed them to the pope.134 Tatishchev reported the prince’s reluctance to St. Petersburg, and Lobanov met with the Bulgarian delegates. Their head, Bishop Clement, said that they would force Ferdinand, if needed, to agree to his son’s conversion.135 Lamsdorff wrote: Now that all the powers have turned away from him because of his attempt of a rapprochement with Russia, he would be even more useful and helpful, but he frankly and succinctly refuses to agree to his son’s conversion to Orthodoxy. It was a mistake to present this demand as the main condition of a reconciliation. Forcing Ferdinand to choose between his throne and his son’s religion was risky: if he abdicated, Lamsdorff thought, ‘chaos returns to Bulgaria, and there will be once again the problem of finding another candidate’.136

Searching to involve France Ferdinand, meanwhile, attempted to find an ally to influence St. Petersburg. Still at Carlsbad, he approached a French government official and asked him to take a message to the French foreign minister. Ferdinand reminded him that he was French on his mother’s side and asked for France’s support to reconcile with Russia. He would then bring Bulgaria into the Franco-Russian entente. In the event of a European war, he could always restrain Rumania by placing his army on the Bulgaro-Rumanian border. The foreign minister Gabriel Hanotaux asked the messenger whether the prince had mentioned on what terms Russia proposed to make peace with him, but he had not.137 The prince hoped it was

Rapprochements  289

Figure 11.3  “ Diplomats’ Luncheon”. Schwartz Count Vladimir Lamsdorff, Prince Valerian Obolensky-Neledinsky-Meletzky. Courtesy of the Archive of Russian Imperial Foreign Policy.

still possible to make Russia change its mind if he offered an alliance instead of his son’s baptism.

Ferdinand’s vacillations The communiqué issued at St. Petersburg denied any change in Russo-Bulgarian relations. Bourboulon echoed Ferdinand’s fear: ‘God forbid that people would think that the prince is the obstacle and should be overthrown’.138 The Bulgarian ministers came to Carlsbad to persuade the prince that little Boris had to become Orthodox.139 In St. Petersburg, Lamsdorff, a devout Orthodox, reflected sadly: How is it possible to demand from a pious Catholic to baptize his young child into another faith! Isn’t it paramount to using his ambition in order to push him to act in a way contrary to his conscience … or condemn him to the most dreadful hypocrisy and deceit?140 In November, Lobanov reported to Nicholas II that Ferdinand was delighted with the emperor’s consent to stand godfather to his son, but the ceremony had to be postponed until the princess recovered from illness and Ferdinand consulted his relatives.141 When the prince asked his family for advice, his uncle, the Duke d’Aumale, wrote: Dear friend, it is not my business to advise you, but if you do not baptize your son [Orthodox], you have only one course open to you: abdication. If

290  Business of Europe you abdicate, the festering wound of the Eastern question will reopen; it will open the door to all those who do not want to wait till Turkey’s expiry and then indeed Europe will be on fire. Think well. Do not only think about the crown, as fools are advising you, think above all of the five million subjects for whom you are responsible, then think of war, of the outbreak of a war that no one wants! … Your country cannot exist without Russia! Indeed, at this moment on the whole globe there is only one genuine great power, Russia. This said, do as you believe. Forever your old uncle and friend.142 Ferdinand talked about his dilemma to the famous Jesuit publicist, Father Pierling. The Jesuit told him: ‘Monseigneur, in either case you will achieve greatness’.143 Finally, Ferdinand asked the pope for an audience. Ferdinand hoped to obtain permission to accept the deal for the sake of the interests of state. In less than ten minutes after the audience had begun, the prince flew out of the reception room with clenched teeth and furious. The pope did not even let him finish talking and said brusquely that it was pointless to consult him on such issues. Ferdinand spent the night dictating to his secretary letters to Nicholas II, Lobanov and his father-in-law, the Duke of Parma. He burned his bridges.144

The Baptism When the prince returned to Sofia, he told his premier: ‘On Russia’s demand I am giving you my son, but you must sign a paper that you will not interfere with his religious instruction. And I warn you that his instruction will continue to be completely Catholic’.145 According to the prince, the premier signed this guarantee. When Ferdinand told his wife about his decision, there was a terrible scene. They wept, insulted each other, almost came to blows, then kissed and having achieved her semi-acceptance of the fact he hastily left. For the rest of the night the princess cried, beat her head against the wall and hurled her shoes at her husband’s portrait on the wall.146 On the eve of Prince Boris’s baptism, his mother left for the Riviera.147 After the child was baptized, the Russian foreign ministry informed Turkey that Russia had no more objections to the official recognition of Ferdinand as the prince of Bulgaria.148 Lamsdorff’s comment was: ‘Once again we have got a loud, but shallow triumph.’ It would have been easier to recognize Ferdinand without ‘adopting’ his son.149 Four years later, Ferdinand’s wife died, leaving him with four little children. Now the prince spent long periods of time abroad – seeking relaxation and another wife – and when a Russian General N. A. Epanchin, came on an official visit to Bulgaria in August 1899, the prince was away. When Ferdinand returned and received the general, the general transmitted the greetings from Nicholas II. The prince answered that he was not as well liked in Russia as he deserved because he was ‘an avstrietz [Austrian], a Cobourg’, and yet he had suffered many painful moments because he had baptized his heir into Orthodoxy. The prince said that Bulgarians did not appreciate his sacrifice either. ‘And, Ferdinand said bitterly,

Rapprochements  291 ‘when finally I am forced to flee this country, I will take mon petit renégat [my little renegade] by the hand and where shall we go?’ The Russian minister who was present hurried to say that the emperor would never abandon his godson. Ferdinand remembered his manners and expansively praised the Russian emperor’s friendship. But General Epanchin,150 understood that the prince did his duty to Bulgaria at a great personal cost. He was humiliated and superstitiously afraid of retribution to himself or to his family.151

Notes 1 Ernest Daudet, ‘Le Règne d’Alexandre III. Mission Laboulaye. 1886–1891’. Revue des deux mondes 51, 5–6 (1919), 406–407. 2 A.P. Mohrenheim to A.G. Jomini, 8/20.10. 1879, BL, Egerton 3173, 45–60. 3 A.G. Jomini to N.K. Giers, 28.10.1879, cited in Charles Jelavich and Barbara Jelavich, ‘Bismarck’s Proposal for the Revival of the Dreikaiserbund in October 1878’. Journal of Modern History 29, 2 (June 1957), 539. 4 E. de Cyon, Histoire de l’entente Franco-Russe 1886–1894. Documents et souvenirs (Paris: Librairie A. Charles, 1895), 135. 5 ‘Russia and France’, The Standard, 23.2.1886, 9. 6 ‘Russia and France’, 9. 7 Daudet, 396. 8 S. Yu. Witte, Vospominaniia (Moscow: Izdatelstvo sotsialno-ekonomicheskoi literatury, 1960), 1:347. 9 The Leeds Mercury, 26.3.1886. 10 N.K. Giers to A.E. Vlangali, 1.4.1886, AVPRI, 340–801–18, llo.43–4 ob. 11 A.P. Mohrenheim to N.K. Giers, 4/16.4.1886, BL, Egerton 3173, 80–82. 12 N.K. Giers to A.E. Vlangali, 1.5.86, AVPRI, 340–801–18, ll.53–54 ob. 13 Daudet, 398. 14 Daudet, 399. 15 E. de Cyon, La France et la Russie (Paris: ‘La Nouvelle Revue’, 1890), 18–19. 16 ‘The Kissingen Meeting’, The Standard, 28.7.1886, 6. 17 ‘Prince Bismarck’, The Standard, 7.8.1886, 5. 18 Daudet, 400–401. 19 Daudet, 403. 20 Daudet, 403. 21 “The German and Russian Chancellors”, The Standard, 24.8.1886, 5. 22 Daudet, 404. 23 The Morning Post, 30.10.1886, 13. 24 Daudet, 405. 25 Cited in Igor Lukoianov, “A.P. Mohrenheim ne znaiet, ch’im instruktsiam sledovat, MID ili generala Bodganovicha”: kak proishodilo russko-franzuskoe sblizhenie kontsa 1880-h godov’, Sankt-Peterburg- Frantsia (St. Petersburg: Evropeiskii Dom, 2010), 306. 26 Keith Wilson, Problems and Possibilities. Exercises in Statesmanship 1814–1918 (Charleston, SC: Tempus, 2003), 117. 27 H. Welschinger, ‘Memoires de M. de Freycinet’, Revue des deux mondes 22(1914), 313–341. 28 Sir J. Rennell Rodd, Social and Diplomatic Memories, 1884–1893 (London: Edward Arnold & Company, 1922), 128. 29 “Politicheskii obzor za 1888’, GARF, 568–1–55, ll.1–15 ob. 30 A.S. Ionin to V.N. Lamsdorf, May 1888, GARF, 586–1–56, l.35. 31 A.S. Ionin to V.N. Lamsdorf, May 1888, GARF, 586–1–56, l.6, ll.90–2 ob.

292  Business of Europe 32 S.S. Tatishchev, ‘O vneshnikh delakh’, 1888, GARF, 597–1–973, ll.1–7. 33 Comte Alexandre de Chaudordy, La France à la suite de la guerre de 1870–1871 (Paris: Plon, 1887), 116–121. 34 Welschinger, 320. 35 Laboulaye–Spuller, 15.6.1889, DDF, Serie 1, 7. 36 “Russia”, The Standard, 13.7.1889, 5. 37 The Pall Mall Gazette, 16.7.1889. 38 ‘Reported Russo-French Treaty’, The Standard, 30.7.1889, 5. 39 ‘Affairs in France’, Glasgow Herald, 5.8.1889. 40 ‘Une Manifestation à Vichy’, La Presse, 12.07.1890, 1. 41 Whist, ‘Le sucesseur de M. de Giers’, 3.3.1895, Le Figaro, p. 1. 42 Foreign Ministry’s ‘Politicheskii obzor za 1888’, ll.1–15. 43 Welchinger, 45. 44 The Times, 17.8.1891, 3. 45 Foreign Ministry’s ‘Politicheskii obzor za 1888’, ll.1–15. 46 The Standard, 11.8. 1892, 5. 47 A. Ribot, ‘Resumé de sa première conversation avec M. de Giers, 20 novembre 1891’, L’Alliance franco-russe: origins de l’alliance, 1890–1893, convention militaire 1892–1899, et convention navale, 1912 (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1918), 19. 48 The Morning Post, 3.9.1892, 5. 49 Daily News, 6.9.1892. 50 The Dundee Currier & Argus, 16.9.1892. 51 The Standard, 16.9.1892, 5. 52 Birmingham Daily Post, 6.9.1892. 53 I.S. Rybachonok, Soyuz s Frantsiei vo vneshnei politike Rossii v kontse XIX v. (Moscow: Institut Istorii SSSR, 1993), 12. 54 Queen Victoria’s memorandum, RA VIC/MAIN/H/48/4, 2.10.1896. 55 Le Petit Parisien. Supplément litteraire illustré, 1.5.1896, 178. 56 ‘Plages et villes d’eaux’, Gil Blas, 11.09.1913, 4. 57 A. Wallon. La vie quotidienne dans les villes d’eaux in 1850–1914 (Paris: Hachette, 1965). 58 Lady Ripon to A.A. Savinsky, 14.3.1908, AVPRI, 340–706–32, ll.89–101 ob. 59 ‘La “Season” à Vichy’, 11.9.1911, Le Matin, 4. 60 Ch. de Freycinet, Souvenirs (New York: Da Capo Press, 1973 [1913]), 442. 61 Ekaterina Ozerova to Princess A. A. Obolenskaya, 9.4 /27.3. 1903, GIM 25–2–366, ll.99–100. 62 Cheshire Observer, 8.12.1894, p. 2. 63 Lanza to Tittoni, 5.2.1905, I documenti diplomatici italiani. 1896–1907. Terza serie, 8:749–750. 64 Sir James Rennell Rodd to Lord Lansdowne, 30.9.1904 FO 800/133, 208–209. 65 Tittoni to Tornielli, 27.9.1905, I documenti diplomatici italiani, Terza serie: 1896–1907 (Rome: Istituto poligrafico e zecca dello Stato, 2012), 9:293. 66 Lansdowne to Bertie, 17.1.1905, FO 800/126, 221–223. 67 Barrington to Maurice Bunsen, 17.1. 1905, FO 800/126, 230–231. 68 Bertie to Lansdowne, 19.1. 1905, FO 800/126, 224–227. 69 Lord Salisbury to Sanderson, 2.3.1905, FO 800/126, 281. 70 Molchanov to Jomini, 7/19.9.1886, British Library, Egerton 3173, 89–90. 71 A.G. Jomini to Molchanov, [1887] British Library, Egerton 3173, 94–95. 72 ‘M. de Giers’, The Standard, 22.8.1885, 5. 73 John F. Baddeley, Russia in the ‘Eighties’: Sport and Politics (London: Longman’s, Green & Co, 1921), 321. 74 N.K. Giers to Vlangali, 26.9/8.10. 1885, AVPRI, 340–801–18, l.42. 75 Marquis de Breteuil, La Haute societé. Journal secret 1886–1889 (Paris: Atelier Marcel Jullian, 1979), 44.

Rapprochements  293 The Ipswich Journal, 22.09.1885. N.K. Giers to Vlangali, 11/23.09. 1885, AVPRI, 340–801–18, ll.38–41. Tatishchev, Istoriia, 435. E. Staal to Vlangali, 27.09/9.l0.1886, AVPRI, 340–801–19, ll.192–193. E. Daudet, Ferdinand Ier, tsar de Bulgarie (Paris: Attinger Frères, Éditeurs, 1917), 97. Nekludoff, ‘Souvenirs diplomatiques. Auprès de Ferdinand de Bulgarie’, Revue des deux mondes (1919), 54:552. 82 Marquis de Breteuil, La Haute societé, 83. 83 Daudet, Ferdinand Ier, 102. 84 A.V. Amfiteatrov, ‘Sofiiskoe zhitie-bytie’, Istoricheskii vestnik (St. Petersburg: tip. A.S. Suvorina, 1898), LXIV:562. 85 Stambolov to Russian foreign ministry, 25.2.1888, cited in Kosik, 22. 86 Lamsdorff, 7.1.1888; V. N. Lamsdorff, Dnevnik 1886–1890 (Minsk: Harvest, 2003), 101. 87 Lamsdorff, 22.11.1887, 247. 88 Princess Marthe Bibesco, Some Royalties and a Prime Minister (London: D. Appleton & Co, 1930), 129. 89 N.A. Epanchin, Na sluzhbe trekh imperatorov (Moscow: Nashe Nasledie, 1996), 261. 90 Waleffe, 180. 91 Daudet, 128. 92 Robert de Bourboulon, 1.4.1892, Blgarske dnevnitse (ed. Zina Markova) (Sofia: IK Kolibri, 1995), 208. 93 A.A. Savinsky, Recollections of a Russian Diplomat (London: Hutchinson & Co. [1933]), 212. 94 Bourboulon, 8.5.1892, 209–210. 95 Bourboulon, 8.5.1892, 209–210. 96 Sydney Whitman, Personal Reminiscences of Prince Bismarck, 201–203. 97 ‘Politicheskii obzor za 1888 god’, ll.1–15 ob. 98 Lamsdorff, 3.12.1887, 387–3888. 99 Bourboulon, 8.5.1892, 211–212. 100 Nekliudoff, 552–553. 101 20.8.1894, 282. 102 V.A. Kosik, Balkany: ‘Porvalas zep velikaia …’ Ser. XIX – nach. XXI vv. (Moscow: Institut slavianovedenia RAN, 2014), 21. 103 A.V. Amfiteatrov, ‘Nedavnie liudi’, LXXII:137. 104 Amfiteatrov 965. 105 S.S. Tatishchev, ‘Petition’, 21.8/2.9.1886, AVPRI, 340–801–18, l.238. 106 A.S. Suvorin, Dnevnik, 17/29.5.1893 (London: Garnett Press, 2000), 155. 107 Lamsdorff, 22.1.1887, 69. 108 Suvorin, 155. 109 Laboulaye to A. Ribot, 9.10.1890, DDF, Série 1, 8:258–260. 110 S. Tatishchev, Istoriia, 477–480. 111 Take Jonescu, Some Personal Impressions (London: Nisbet & Co., 1919), 197. 112 The Huddersfield Daily Chronicle, 24.7.1894, 4. 113 The Standard, 5.7.1894, 5. 114 ‘Our London Correspondence’, Glasgow Herald, 19.6.1894. 115 The Standard, 19.7.1895, 5. 116 V.N. Lamsdorff, 25.7.1894, Dnevnik, 1894–1896 (Moscow: Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniia, 1991), 274. 117 Lamsdorff, 4.2.1895, Dnevnik, 139. 118 Lamsdorff, 15.4.1895, Dnevnik, 169. 119 A.V. Nekliudov, Diplomatic Reminiscences Before and During the World War, 1911–1917 (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1920), 9. 120 Montebello to Hanotaux, 24.8.1895, DDF, Série 1, 12:188–191. 121 Montebello to Hanotaux, 24.8.1895, DDF, Serie 1, 12:188–191.

76 77 78 79 80 81

294  Business of Europe 22 S.Tatishchev, 13.06.1895, cited in Lamsdorff, Dnevnik, 207. 1 123 Lamsdorff, 2.7.1895, Dnevnik, 223. 124 Lamsdorff, 9.6.1895, Dnevnik, 215. 125 Lamsdorff, 5.7.1895, Dnevnik, 228. 126 The Pall Mall Gazette, 29.6.1895. 127 Bourboulon, 12.7.1895, 283–284. 128 Bourboulon, July 1895, 284–286. 129 Le Marchand to Hanotaux, 23.7.1895, DDF, Serie 1, 12:131–132. 130 Bourboulon, July 1895, 284–286. 131 Daily News, 17.7.1895. 132 The Standard, 22.7.1895, 5. 133 Bourboulon, 2.8.1895, 288. 134 Bourboulon, 30.7.1895, 286–188. 135 Montebello to Hanotaux, 24.8.1895, DDF, Serie 1, 12:188–191. 136 Lamsdorff, Dnevnik, 2.8.1895, 239. 137 Hanotaux to Montebello, 3.8.1895, DDF, Serie 1, 12:149–151. 138 Bourboulon, 8.8.1895, 288. 139 Lamsdorff, Dnevnik, 7/19.11.1895, 308. 140 Lamsdorff, Dnevnik, 9.11.1895, 308–309. 141 Lamsdorff, Dnevnik, 13.11.1895, 314–315. 142 Cited in Bourboulon, 9.2.1896, 306. 143 Bourboulon, 9.2.1896, 306. 144 Bourboulon, 9.2.1896, 301–308. 145 Bourboulon, 9.2.1896, 301–308. 146 Bourboulon, 9.2.1896, 301–308. 147 Lamsdorff, Dnevnik, 24.1.1896, 375. 148 Lamsdorff, 375. 149 Lamsdorff, 375. 150 Epanchin, 260–262. 151 Nekliudoff, 553.

12 The flight from spas and the end of an era: 1914–1919

We are in the midst of a cataclysm. This is what we have seen coming for 40 years. I wish I had not lived to see the obliteration of civilization in Europe. —Pavel Benckendorff, Russian court chamberlain, 10.8.1914

The spa season was only beginning when the Sarajevo crisis broke out on 27 June 1914: the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne and his wife were assassinated during an official visit to Bosnia, which Aehrenthal had so cleverly annexed in 1908. Public opinion was sympathetic to the Austrian imperial family. Ekaterina Ozerova, a lady-in-waiting of the dowager empress Maria Fedorovna, wrote to her mistress, who was visiting her sister in England: What a blow to the poor old emperor and what an irreparable disaster for the poor little children who lost their father and mother, and what political effect on Austria. I imagine how shaken you must have been! Did you know him [Francis Ferdinand]? They say he hated Russia, but I don’t believe in either love or hatred in politics.1 Chancelleries were concerned, but not overly: as the assassin was an Austrian subject, it was considered a domestic Austrian affair.2 The Swiss minister to Paris reported to his chief that the ambassadors of the Triple Alliance did not consider the situation dangerous. The German ambassador said that although the southwestern regions of Austria-Hungary were unquiet and the Austrian government might send troops there, it did not signify a war with Serbia. The Swiss diplomat repeated: ‘They will not, they cannot make war on Serbia.’ He said that most of his colleagues in Paris believed that the general European situation is not alarming, in the sense that the Great Powers’ relations are quite peaceful. Neither Russia nor England wants a war; Germany, if needed, will restrain Austria in her dealings with Serbs; the Balkans are at last exhausted. In these circumstances there is no reason to believe that France is sending her president to Petersburg to prepare revenge, and, moreover, that such a suggestion would find a favourable response.3

296  Business of Europe William II received the Austrian ambassador on 5 July, expressed his deepest sympathy and sailed off on his yacht: the situation could not be grave. Newspapers did not write that he had promised to support whatever retaliation Austria-­ Hungary might decide on, even at the risk of provoking Russia.4 Ambassadors and statesmen went on leave as usual. The unusually hot summer augured well for spas and especially for Swiss mountain resorts where many people went to escape the heat. European newspapers published the usual lists of notable persons travelling to holiday destinations, the advertisements of ‘Pleasure and health resorts’, hotels and railway companies. Those who had planned their holiday months ahead, saved, made hotel bookings, bought clothes, saw no reason to change their plans. After William II left, the elderly Baron von Reischach, his lord high chamberlain, was free to go to Carlsbad. Reischach had been loyal to the spa for 10 years and looked forward to joining his circle of friends, ‘charming men and women of international extraction’: Germans, Austrians, Hungarians, Russians, Poles, French and English.5 A Russian entrepreneur, Baron Nikolai Egorovich Wrangel, left for Vichy at the end of June. He was acquainted with Count Leopold Berchtold, the Austrian foreign minister, and did not for a moment believe that this ‘highly civilized and level-headed man’ might push his country into a crazy adventure. As soon as Wrangel reached Vichy, he was laid up with an attack of gout and the cure became his main concern. A well-known St. Petersburg lawyer, Nikolay P. Karabchevsky, with his wife and two daughters, a governess and a maid, left for Homburg on 4 July. From Berlin, Karabchevsky telegraphed Ritter’s Park Hotel at Homburg where they always stayed. Two hours later they had the answer, also by telegraph: ‘Dankend reserviert’ [Thank you for the reservation].6 A night’s journey on the train brought them to Frankfurt-am-Main, and from there they travelled by a local train and an omnibus to their hotel. A porter brought in their luggage into the hotel lobby where the flower girl, the bartender and the owners, welcomed them as old friends. It was the family’s tenth season at the watering station. The Russian colony in Homburg was numerous and well established. The name of one of the main streets, Kisilewstrasse, after the wife of General Count Kiselev who gambled away her fortune at the local casino, was a reminder that Russian money had contributed to the prosperity of the town for most of the 19th century. The second largest group of visitors were the British and Americans. It was an international world in all respects: the Ritter’s hotel boasted a French chef who had brought over with him the whole kitchen crew; the waiters were mostly Italian. The bartender who served the after-dinner coffee, cigars and liqueurs in the lobby was Turkish. The few Russians staying at the Ritter’s were a ‘mixed bag’: they were middle-­ class families from the interior of Russia, who did not wear tuxedos to dinner or tailcoats to balls. Their lack of elegance took away from the prestige of the hotel, much to the regret of Herr Ritter who wanted his hotel to be exclusively

The flight from spas and the end of an era: 1914–1919  297 and glamorously aristocratic. But after a recent expansion, the hotel needed more guests, and the owners could not afford to turn anyone away.7 There were also many Americans, a few Britons and French. More British were expected after the end of the parliament session. American women, as usual, changed dresses four times a day, eagerly looked for social occasions, and mostly for their sake the hotel owners arranged balls twice a week.8 The Ritter’s also set up tennis tournaments. Everyone was welcome, and young German officers from nearby garrisons came. During the day the tennis players competed; in the evening there were celebratory dinners and balls.

End of the season In mid-July, The Times published a merry little essay titled ‘Where and When?’ referring to the questions that the well-to-do British asked one another in summer: ‘Where are you going for your holiday this year?’ and ‘When are you going?’ The writer thought it might be amusing to answer differently every time you were asked the two cliché questions. The suggested examples of where an English tourist might go ranged from Russia (a new touristic destination) to Aix-les-Bains, Italy, Wiesbaden or Marienbad.9 The former Russian premier Sergei Witte showed up in Paris in mid-July and asked the embassy officials to pull strings to get him a ticket for the sold-out luxury ‘international’ coach to Bad Nauheim. The embassy secretary mentioned the possibility of war. Witte answered: ‘War? Unless our emperor and Sukhomlinov [the war minister] have both lost their mind … there will be no war’.10 Europe forgot all about the Sarajevo assassination. On 20 July, newspapers published a rumour that King George V accepted William II’s invitation to September manoeuvres of the German army and that rooms were being prepared for him at the emperor’s castle in Homburg.11 On 23 July, people were astounded to read in the newspapers that Austria presented Serbia with an ultimatum. Following a secret investigation of the Sarajevo assassination, the Austro-Hungarian government accused the Serbian military of having masterminded it and provided the weapons and bombs to the assassins. The Swiss minister to Vienna, like everyone else, was caught by surprise. He realized the significance of the ultimatum: ‘Austria burned all the bridges behind herself: it is either Serbia’s full surrender or war’. The Russian chargé d’affaires in Vienna, Prince Nikolay Kudashev, visited the Austrian foreign ministry to ask for an extension on Serbia’s behalf, but the official who received him, responded: ‘There are cases when courtesy has to give way to the interests of the matter’. The Swiss minister thought that Serbia was given only 48 hours to answer the ultimatum, so that its government would have no time to propose discussing the terms. Everyone believed that Serbia would cave in, as Russia did not support it too resolutely.12 Russian statesmen were well aware that ‘Russia had the least to gain from continental conflict and the most to lose’,13 because any war might prove fatal to the Russian state.14 The foreign minister Sergei Sazonov persuaded the Serbian

298  Business of Europe government to accept practically all of Austria’s terms. On 25 July, following an appeal from the Serbian regent, the Russian government formally declared that it would not remain passive if Austria-Hungary attempted to force its will on Serbia. On 26 July, Serbia replied to the ultimatum. It accepted eight Austrian demands, conditionally accepted two more and conditionally turned down one (giving Austrian police a free hand in Serbia). The Austrian minister in Belgrade replied that this answer was ‘inadequate’15 and left Belgrade half an hour after receiving the Serbian answer. At St. Petersburg, the Austrian stand was interpreted correctly: ‘The lesson learned from bullying Serbia [in 1908] proved to be important in 1914 – aggressive diplomacy would pay off’.16 Austrian moves placed Russia in an impossible position: abandoning Serbia for a second time after 1908 would irreparably discredit Russia as a great power;17 coming to Serbia’s defence meant war against the Triple Alliance. The Austro-Hungarian monarchy had been contemplating a punitive war on Serbia for a long time, but the foreign minister Berchtold opposed it. Paul Schroeder believed that after the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, Berchtold ran out of arguments.18 Diplomats were sidelined by the generals, first in Vienna, then in other capitals, where military considerations (the earliest mobilization in order to strike the first and decisive blow) took over. Later, the governments of the warring nations made consistent efforts to shift the blame from the military who spoke of preventive attacks to diplomats who insisted on arbitration and mediation. The British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, referring to the success of the powers’ ambassadors in London in preventing a European conflict in 1913, gave an indirect answer to the accusation: [T]he Balkan Conference [of 1913] showed that war could have been prevented. The machinery and personelle in London were effective and absolutely trustworthy. You, Cambon, Imperiali, Lichnowsky, Mensdorff and myself could and would have settled any European crisis honourably [in 1914]… if the difficulty had been referred to us.19 Count Berchtold and the war minister took the Austrian note to the old emperor at Ischl and returned to Vienna, but the emperor remained at the resort. Austria did not launch an immediate attack, and negotiations between Russian and Austrian diplomats in European capitals continued. The Russian chargé d’affaires was distraught because he could not find any of the senior Austrian foreign ministry officials: they were away on vacation. But by 26 July everyone was back in Vienna, and William II also interrupted his cruise and returned to Berlin. Austria announced partial mobilization. The Russian ambassador Nikolai Nikolaevich Shebeko urgently returned to Vienna from an extended leave for family reasons. On 26 July, General Helmuth von Moltke, the chief of staff of the German army, interrupted his cure and left Carlsbad. Other Germans followed him.20 On the same day at 3 pm. the Serbian government ordered full mobilization, and the court, the government and the troops began to leave Belgrade because the military knew it could not be defended. The Russian embassy in Vienna agreed to

The flight from spas and the end of an era: 1914–1919  299 look after Serbian interests. The Serbian minister delayed his departure by a few days because one of his children was ill.21 Also on 26 July, the order to prepare for mobilization was issued to the Russian army. When Germany demanded that Russia stop the mobilization in order to localize the conflict, the opinion at the Russian foreign ministry was that to accept it ‘would be paramount to leaving Serbia for Austria-Hungary to swallow up’.22 The Russians in Vichy wondered whether they should return home. An ex-­ minister of the interior, Pavel Nikolaevich Durnovo, telegraphed the foreign minister Sergei Sazonov, asking what he should do. Sazonov promptly reassured him: ‘You can continue the cure at peace. No reason for concern’.23 On 28 July, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and the next day Belgrade was bombed. Russia put its troops on the Austrian border into combat readiness. On 30 July, following Austria-Hungary and Germany, Russia announced general mobilization. At the same time, in an effort to avert war, Sazonov advised Nicholas II to ask the British king to appeal directly to his cousin William II for arbitration.24 After 25 July, German officers began to leave Swiss resorts,25 although other tourists continued arriving. A Russian journalist, reassured by the newspapers’ optimism, came to a sanatorium in the Swiss Montreux the day before the Austrian ultimatum. At the table d’hôte, the Russian discussed the chances for an all-European war with the French chargé d’affaires in Berlin. On 30 July, after one of such discussions, the French diplomat said: ‘As long as you see me here you need not worry.’ That evening they all went to bed early. The next morning the Frenchman did not appear at the breakfast: he had left during the night. The hotel guests learned that Russia had rejected the German ultimatum and Germany declared war on Russia.26 After several days of trying to limit the conflict and a stormy cabinet session, the British government declared war on Germany. The declaration automatically extended to Germany’s Austrian ally. The Austrian ambassador, Albert von Mensdorff, the cousin of the German and Russian ambassadors to London and a relative of the British royal family, delayed his departure as long as he could. After almost two decades in London, he felt the rupture of relations as a professional disaster and a personal grief. His career ended in a most appalling fracas, and whatever the outcome of the war Mensdorff would hardly be able to resume his charmed existence, with weekends at Balmoral and Windsor. The British liked him for what he was: amusing company and a connoisseur of dinner seating protocol. Sir Edward Grey, the foreign secretary, wrote him a brief letter expressing his sorrow at having had to declare war and invited Mensdorff to his place for a private leave-taking in order to shake hands and to assure him of his unaltered friendship.27

Interrupted cures After 30 July, all roads to the German-Swiss border were barricaded on the Swiss side, and sentinels were placed on every road. Travellers were allowed to cross the border on foot after a customs checkup. On 1 August, Swiss hoteliers refused to

300  Business of Europe accept British travellers’ checks. There were reclamations, protests, agitated talk. Then mass exodus began. The last to leave were about 800 English who gathered at the Basel terminal with mountains of luggage, waiting for a train. Basel hotels were full, and many travellers slept in the station. Trains ceased to move from Basel to the German border. People could reach the border only by automobile. The Russians coming from Italian and Swiss resorts were not allowed across the border, and they could only get home via Genoa or the Balkans.28 A handful of panicking Russians rushed from Lausanne and Montreux to Geneva. They were running out of money, and the Geneva consul was overwhelmed by the crowd of his countrymen demanding to be sent home. A few optimists attempted to reassure themselves and others by reasoning: surely, what with new military technologies and the interests of world trade, the war could not last longer than two to three months.29 At the end of July, banks and railroads in France ceased to function normally, and curists tried to return home as soon as possible. The American millionaire Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt urgently travelled to Paris from Contrexeville in a third-class train compartment. As banks did not take travellers’ cheques, he had to borrow cash from various acquaintances and his own valet to buy the ticket. A rumour circulated that arriving in Paris, Vanderbilt announced he was not going to reimburse his creditors because he had not signed any IOUs. Instead he settled their French hotel bills and sent them to the United States free of charge on a steamer he bought for the occasion. Baron Wrangel’s physician told him that the French were expecting mobilization orders to be issued at any moment, and then all Vichy hotels would be transformed into military hospitals. He advised Wrangel to go to Paris and find a way to reach Russia. Wrangel, still immobilized by gout, was driven to the train station, now crowded with thousands of people. Tickets were sold out; ticketless people were kept off the platform; the passengers with tickets were not allowed to take baggage on board. After hours of waiting, the passengers boarded the Paris train. There was no scrambling for seats, but an elderly man tearfully asked Wrangel to let him stay in his first-class compartment, then a weeping lady with children showed up, then Wrangel’s friend with his son. A young American covered with diamonds and wrapped in furs planted herself in Wrangel’s toilet and despite his protests did not budge from there. Her girlfriends lay down on the floor of his compartment. And so they travelled to Paris. In Paris, they heard newspaper boys shouting in the streets that Germany had declared war on Russia. Mobilization orders were pasted on the walls of houses. As soon as the state of emergency was declared, porters, cabs and taxis disappeared from the streets: horses and transport were requisitioned, cabbies mobilized. Male staff disappeared from hotels, and the guests had to fetch their meals from the kitchen. Thousands of Russians in Paris had run out of French currency and could not exchange or borrow money. The embassy organized free meals for them and handed out small sums of money. Wrangel added to this touching picture of solidarity a sobering detail: ‘many of our countrymen, especially the younger people, behaved tactlessly, demanding the impossible. They loudly

The flight from spas and the end of an era: 1914–1919  301 criticized the procedures and came close to abusing the embassy staff’. Large French hotels announced that their Russian allies were allowed to postpone settling their bills until the war was over. It took Wrangel three weeks to leave Paris. His group took a train to Boulogne, crossed over to England and finally left from Edinburgh for Norway on board a fishing schooner.30 The opening of hostilities did not cancel out privilege and dynastic ties. The Romanovs caught by the war at spas returned to Russia morally shaken but with little difficulty. The Dowager Empress Maria was still in England on 31 July. The ambassador urged her to leave, but she did not grasp the seriousness of the situation: she telegraphed her daughter Xenia, who was treating her kidneys at the French spa Vittel, that she would be delighted if Xenia joined her on the way to Russia, but ‘I think it wiser [for you to] continue cure. Consult doctor. Everything terrible. Loving kisses. Mama’.31 Xenia caught up with her mother in Belgium, having separated from her retinue and luggage in the chaos. The two women continued to Berlin, the hub where they always took the train to Russia, but train communication with Russia had been broken off. The dowager wrote: When we arrived in Berlin – a disgusting place – Sverbeev [the Russian ambassador] came on board the train and informed us that war had been declared and that I was not allowed to cross the German border. He seemed crazy. I could see that he lost his head. … Then a German gentleman showed up, an official, and announced that I had to go back and travel home via England, Holland or Switzerland or, if I wished, via Denmark. I protested and asked him what happened. To this he answered: ‘Russia has declared war’.32 Two hours later, the dowager was on her way to Russia via her native Denmark. The imperial train that had been waiting for her at the Russo-German border arrived in Wilno [Vilnius] on 3 August, with the czar’s uncle, Grand Duke Constantine, his German wife and young children on board. The grand duke interrupted his cure at the German spa Wildungen, and the family returned via Berlin. In Berlin they were detained on the train. Their cousin, the German empress, declined their appeal to come and settle the problem, but she prevailed over the bureaucracy, and her Russian relatives reached the border. The middle-­ aged grand duke was crushed by the catastrophe. At the Wilno station, he saw masses of refugees with children who had fled from border regions fearing an imminent German invasion. The grand duke repeated agitatedly: ‘Why did they have to flee? The Germans would have done nothing to them, they are not barbarians’.33 Another Romanov, caught by war at a resort, was Grand Duchess Maria Georgievna, a daughter of King George I of Greece and a cousin of George V. She had come to England with her daughters for a sea-bathing cure and decided to stay rather than hurry to her unloved husband in Russia. She remained comfortably in England until the end of the war. The dowager Grand Duchess Anastasia of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who had lived on the French Riviera all her life, refused

302  Business of Europe to return to Germany when the war began. She repudiated her German nationality and returned to her maiden name, Anastasia Mikhailovna Romanova. She organized a hospital at her villa in Cannes and put it at the disposal of the French authorities.34 Even so, the French counterintelligence never ceased to suspect her of being a German agent.

Homburg in August On 30 July, the Russians heard at the Kurhaus that the emperor’s cousin, the prince of Oldenbourg, and his retinue, Russian military officers, had left Homburg without completing their cures. Several other prominent Russians also disappeared, although some were saying that these men simply had gone to Frankfurt to party, as they had often done before. On 31 July panic began when banks ceased to accept Russian letters of credit: all communications with Russian banks had ceased. Karabchevsky only had about 300 German marks left, which would not pay for the tickets to Russia for his party of six. But he confidently reassured everyone that according to international laws, they were in no danger: the most that German authorities might do was demand them to leave German territory. Karabchevsky apologized to the hotel owners, saying he would settle the bills as soon as a money transfer arrived via a Swedish bank. The Ritters assured him that he need not worry, for in emergencies people had to help each other: the Karabchevskys were not ‘Russians’ to them but old friends. During the conversation, the owner’s son broke down and wept, repeating that the war would ruin them, for the hotel never made profit until August; in July they barely broke even.35 Posters announcing the state of emergency went up everywhere; every day units of soldiers marched towards the train station. The trains passing through the town carried tarpaulin-covered cargo on the open platforms. In their hotel room the Russians heard the Kursaal orchestra playing the German anthem again and again. After 11 pm, when the music ceased, groups of youths and children marched through the streets of Homburg, singing patriotic songs. A few Russians who had booked tickets to Berlin decided to travel to Russia via Switzerland. A day later they were back: when they reached Hesse, the German authorities took them off the train. They stood on the platform, while the mob on the other side of the fence jeered and shouted insults. After a night at the station, they were allowed to proceed, but they could not board a Berlin train and so they returned to Homburg. Someone started a rumour that in Frankfurt a mob broke into the old Hotel Russischer Hof where Russians usually stayed and trashed it. The Ritters asked their Russian guests to leave, fearing a similar disaster. Soon all the subjects of belligerent states were ordered to move into one hotel, the Augusta, or else they would be treated as enemy spies, wird als Spion behandelt. The Augusta was overcrowded with people on the verge of hysteria. The popular Homburg practitioner Dr. Hobert regularly came to the hotel to distribute sedatives among the agitated guests and refused to charge them. Every morning at six the men at the

The flight from spas and the end of an era: 1914–1919  303 hotel were called downstairs for a roll-call. Then they were all marched to the train station with their baggage, but the passing trains were filled with soldiers and the foreigners returned to the Augusta. Only the Americans in Homburg went on taking baths and drinking waters. They strolled in the streets displaying badges with the Stars and Stripes on their lapels and avidly observed the drama around them.36 The Spanish consul came from Frankfurt and told the Russians that although he represented Russian interests in wartime, he could not help them, as the departed Russian consul had left behind no money. Meanwhile, the U.S. consul, who was in charge of the British subjects shuttled from Frankfurt to Homburg, sent telegrams on their behalf and handed out small sums of money to them.37 A century of rubbing shoulders with other nations at spas showed its worth in 1914. Homburg hotel staff remained courteous and friendly, and the police behaved correctly.38 Soon money transfers began to reach Russians via Stockholm, and Homburg hoteliers panicked that their hotels would empty. There was a rumour that the authorities in Frankfurt allowed the foreigners to leave Homburg, but the hoteliers pleaded with them to rescind the permit.39 Karabchevsky and his companions returned to Russia via Sweden in September. He wrote: ‘We always imagined war in a halo of heroism. Civilians were no more than keenly interested, but untouchable witnesses, who waited for the outcome of the battle’.40 It was not a Russian delusion, for Germans shared it. The owners of a Homburg hotel told Karabchevsky that during the Franco-­Prussian War several French families stayed at their hotel throughout the campaign and returned unharmed to France after the hostilities ceased. That was what Karabchevsky and his contemporaries expected. In 1914, he concluded bitterly, nothing was sacrosanct or inviolable any more, and he called his rather tame experience in Germany a ‘descent into tribalism’. Little did he know of what lay ahead. Prince Ivan Kudashev, the Russian minister in Belgium, another popular resort destination, wrote from a German-occupied Anvers in August 1914: ‘Here we are assaulted by Russian refugees, mostly penniless, as they lost all they had.’ He had telegraphed to St. Petersburg for permission to freight a ship to take them to the Russian port Archangel, but money could not be transferred from Russia to Belgium. The picture he drew of the first days of war in his hasty message to the London embassy differed greatly from Karabchevsky’s Homburg experience. When the Belgians decided to surrender Anvers, they sent truce envoys to the advancing German army and the Germans shot them all.41 It was the kind of warfare that the 20th century would come to know too well.

Biarritz, August 1914 After Nauheim, Sergei Witte joined his family at their Biarritz villa. He planned to enjoy the warm autumn and work on his memoirs. The nondescript black clothbound notebooks, containing the typewritten chapters were tidily ranged on his desk. In these he described the main events of his life and explained his actions42 for posterity. The content of other notebooks was so damning to the

304  Business of Europe emperor of Russia and his ministers that Witte did not risk dictating them to a typist or working on them in Russia. Nor did he keep them on his desk in everyone’s view even in Biarritz. He secretly worked on this part of his memoir during his Biarritz stays, and returning to Russia every time, he left them in a bank vault in Bayonne. When Witte learned about the declaration of war, he telegraphed a journalist friend to Switzerland: No one knows Germany’s strength better than I do. This war will destroy us and them. I will not stay here. Dead or alive I am returning to Russia. I am taking a Messagerie Maritime boat to Constantinople and Odessa.43 As Witte was taking leave of his family, he read out to them a passage from his memoirs, written in July 1897, after a conversation with William II: Imagine that Europe is just one Empire, that Europe is not expending enormous sums and its blood and energy to create new means of rivalry in its own interior, that she does not maintain millions of soldiers for internal wars. … Then Europe will grow wealthier, more powerful and civilized. …To achieve it we need first of all solid alliances between Russia, France and Germany.44 Witte saw no valid reason for the war and blamed the Russian foreign minister Sergei Sazonov for losing control of the situation: at the time of the crisis, the Russian ambassadors in Berlin and Vienna were away on vacation, and humble chargés d’affaires conducted vital negotiations with the German and Austrian foreign ministers. He thought that they did not grasp the gravity of the issue and did not have the prestige or the moral strength to sway their Austrian and German counterparts.45 Witte died in 1915. His widow retrieved and sold his manuscript memoirs when she returned to Biarritz as an exile in 1919.

Wartime spas: Places of exile, 1916–1917 Spas had always been the places of voluntary or forced exile among the European aristocracy. Princess Louise of Saxe-Cobourg was forced into exile: Francis Joseph II ordered this relative of his to leave the capital when her adultery became the scandal of Vienna. Attempting to disguise her expulsion as a health concern, she went to Carlsbad, then to Meran and finally stayed in Nice.46 One of the voluntary exiles was Princess Ekaterina Yourievsky, the morganatic widow of Emperor Alexander II. She left St. Petersburg because after her husband’s death the Russian imperial family refused to treat her as one of the family, and she would not accept anything less. She spent most of the year in Biarritz or in Nice, where she had a circle of her own that treated her with the deference she expected. Resorts had always been popular with retired or dismissed statesmen. In the 1820s, a novelist described ‘a melancholy group of statesmen in disgrace’ in Carlsbad. The first stage of official disgrace often consisted in a monarch sending

The flight from spas and the end of an era: 1914–1919  305 a former minister to the waters, as if ‘throwing … [him] into the mineral waters, like in a kind of Letha, to erase from … [his] mind all the memory of … [his] past power’.47 Next, newspapers announced that the minister resigned for reasons of health. Retired statesmen frequently chose to leave the stage of their past activity, where their pride would suffer from daily reminders of their fall and where they might be accused of interference. They were attracted to spas for their mild climate, the presence of reputable doctors and choice society. Besides, there they could enjoy their usual comfort at less expense than in any European capital. After 1815, spas became the refuge for Count Fedor Rostopchin, the former governor general of Moscow. Rostopchin left Russia because of the animosity of Alexander I and his court.48 He shuttled between Carlsbad and Pyrmont, with extended visits to his family in Paris. The man who in 1880–1881 was dubbed ‘the dictator’ in Russia, General Mikhail Tarielovich Loris-Melikov, was dismissed by Alexander III, who blamed his timid liberalism for the assassination of Alexander II in March 1881. Loris-Melikov, hounded by the hatred of all Petersburg conservatives. spent his remaining years on the Riviera. The Russian Chancellor Prince Gorchakov, an assiduous spa visitor since his youth, shared his last years between the Riviera and Baden-Baden. Always garrulous and sociable, in his old age he became known for indiscretion and for his excessive fondness of young women. He visibly declined mentally, and his former subordinates cringed when they heard about the ex-chancellor’s activities at foreign spas,49 where he was the laughing stock of foreign society. A young Russian diplomat, Aleksandr K. Benckendorff, visited Gorchakov in Baden-Baden soon after the Berlin Congress of 1878. He wrote to his fiancée that the old man was affable and talkative. Gorchakov said that he had been against the [Russo-Turkish] war, that the congress had been ‘a pathetic affair’.When Gorchakov began to gossip about the men in power, the young diplomat wrote: ‘I got scared and left’50 to avoid hearing a demented old man’s indiscretions. The French publicist Maxime Du Camp, on the contrary, regularly met with the retired Gorchakov in Baden-Baden and learnt from him a few interesting anecdotes about Russo-French diplomacy. The old chancellor died in Baden-Baden at the house of a former Berlin cabaret flower-girl named Lina Braun.51 The other Russian foreign minister to choose the Riviera for his retirement was Count Vladimir Lamsdorff who suffered several heart strokes in the summer of 1905, as he steered the Russian autocrat towards peace with Japan and away from adventuresome shifts in foreign policy. After his resignation in 1906, he was overcome by depression, so his doctor prescribed a winter in sunny San Remo. Lamsdorff told a friend who saw him off at the Petersburg train station that he knew he would not come back. He was a bachelor and a recluse, so his death in March 1907 passed unnoticed in Russia, which was exactly what spas were for: quietly removing from the public scene the people for whom the rulers had no more need. The tradition of sending ministers in disgrace to a spa was maintained in imperial Russia to the end; in fact, Sergei Dmitrievich Sazonov learned about his dismissal during a spa cure. Since 1910, he had cultivated Russia’s relations with the Anglo-French Entente, then steered Russia’s diplomatic course during the

306  Business of Europe war. Sazonov’s health began to fail in 1904: doctors prescribed treatments for stomach, nerves and kidneys and once or twice a year Sazonov dedicated several weeks, or even months, to a serious cure at Aix-les-Bains, San Pellegrino, Salsomaggiore or Davos. At least once a year, he collapsed and was transported to Davos or Salsomaggiore, giving rise to rumours of his near death. Every time diplomats wondered who would succeed him and with what consequences for Russian foreign policy, but then Sazonov emerged from a health station like a phoenix and returned to St. Petersburg, visiting Berlin and Paris on the way, to settle pending issues. When the war began, like all Russian elite, Sazonov turned his attention to the hitherto scorned Russian spas. Isolated from the rest of Europe, they had to content themselves with more modest facilities in the Northern Caucasus and the Crimea. In 1915–1917, the Russian habitués of the cosmopolitan spas appeared in Kislovodsk, Mineralnye Vody and on the Crimean coast. Finland with its seaside, lakes and forests was another popular destination, conveniently at hand for Petrograd dwellers. It became a substitute for Scheveningen, Ostend or even Switzerland. Sazonov’s dogged efforts to maintain and consolidate Russia’s wartime alliance with France and Britain brought him into frequent collisions with other ministers and the military command. By 1916, the foreign minister was convinced that Nicholas II’s power over the Duma’s decisions was disastrous52 and that in order to win the war the existing system should be replaced by a parliamentary one.53 Sazonov opposed the measures that the home ministry and the military demanded, protested against the emperor’s assuming the supreme command and insisted on the need for the emperor to collaborate with the parliamentary opposition. As a result, he lost the emperor’s support. Sazonov’s attempt to force Nicholas II to accelerate the solution of the Polish issue ended in his dismissal. After many months of exhausting work, in August 1916 the emperor granted his foreign minister a leave. Sazonov was delighted, telling his subordinates that he would go to a spa in Finland for a week or, if lucky, for a month. Before he left the capital, he spoke to the Dutch minister about his hope of progress in the Polish issue: Poland was going to be a quasi-independent country, enlarged by Austrian and Prussian territories,54 after these empires had been defeated and dismantled. Two days after his arrival at a sanatorium, he received the emperor’s letter dismissing him, and he wrote to an old and trusted friend: Tomorrow you will read in the newspaper about my dismissal. I have long been expecting it, because I realized that my differences of opinion with my colleagues about many essential questions of domestic policy would inevitably lead to it. I am calm and satisfied, because I have not compromised on any of my convictions. … It is very pleasant here and if I could, I would gladly stay here for another week.55 The newspapers reported that the emperor had accepted Sazonov’s resignation.56 A new foreign minister was appointed at once, and by the time Sazonov returned

The flight from spas and the end of an era: 1914–1919  307 from Finland he was already ‘a man of the past’.57 He returned, briefly, to move his belongings from the ministerial suite on the top floor of the foreign ministry to a rented apartment, and then he left for another cure. He feared the harsh northern winter, but above all, he could not stay in Petrograd, where everyone who was opposed to the emperor’s policies viewed the minister in disgrace as a useful ally. There was talk about a conspiracy to remove the emperor and proclaim his son emperor under a regency. Sazonov’s name was bandied around as one of the ministers of a new government. He wanted to distance himself from the intrigues and plots that proliferated in the last months of the Russian monarchy. In September 1916, Sazonov went to a Caucasian spa, Yessentuki, which was still a primitive place compared to Central European spas, but with an excellent climate and pretty nature. Its waters were recommended for kidney problems. The effect of the treatment disappointed Sazonov, but he was determined and moved to the nearby Kislovodsk [tellingly named after its acidic springs] for a post-cure. The Grand Hotel where he stayed boasted modern amenities, ranging from electrical ventilation and water heating to a reading room, an elevator and a restaurant with two menus, dietetic and ordinary, as well as a bath establishment with mineral water and mud baths. Sazonov wrote: ‘I am doing my best to rest and accumulate strength for the Petrograd winter. I am drinking the waters, taking Narzan baths [the local effervescent mineral water], and conscientiously carrying out the physician’s prescriptions; only the unstable weather and the black thoughts are in the way.’ He planned to escape the effects of the bad weather later by moving to Sochi and Gagry, two beautiful subtropical locations on the Black Sea coast,58 but he could not forget his concerns. On the eve of leaving Kislovodsk, he wrote: I have nothing to do here anymore; the waters and the baths have not done me any particular good and from time to time I feel quite ill. Perhaps part of the reason is the anxiety which preys on my mind because of the dreary news from Petrograd. The collapse of all my Polish policy depresses me very much. What infantile short-sightedness and what intellectual impotence!59 In December 1916, the ambassador to Britain, Count Aleksandr Benckendorff, died, and in January 1917 the emperor appointed Sazonov to London, but as the new ambassador was preparing to leave the emperor abdicated in March. The new Provisional Government initially confirmed Sazonov’s appointment, and the British government accepted him. Sazonov auctioned off his furniture and bought the tickets to London, but at the last moment, as he was boarding his train, a messenger arrived to tell him that his appointment was rescinded.

The Russian Riviera in 1917 As Russia was rolling towards a second revolution, spas became the gathering places for the members of the ousted dynasty and the remains of their courts. Earlier than usual, in 1917 the North Caucasian and Crimean resorts filled with former

308  Business of Europe chamberlains, ladies-in-waiting, ministers and elderly generals. They escaped the oppressive and threatening atmosphere of large cities and attempted to keep up the illusion of normality by taking cures. In June, Sazonov was at Yalta’s best hotel, the Rossiia. His last dated letter to Count Dmitry Ivanovich Tolstoy spoke of returning to Petrograd at some time in the future, but, he said, his stay in Yalta gave him everything he expected from a resort: a temperate weather and peace. The subtropical Crimean Peninsula hosted a Russian version of the Riviera; in fact, commercial advertisements ambitiously dubbed its largest town Yalta ‘the Russian Riviera’. Beginning with the 1840s–1850s, many St. Petersburg aristocrats bought land on the beautiful wild Crimean coast and built sumptuous villas and palaces. The Romanovs owned several estates in the Crimea; the most famous was the imperial family’s Livadia, where they spent early spring or the fall. They rarely visited the nearby Yalta, valuing their privacy, but the town attracted many visitors, and various doctors built in Yalta’s vicinity sanatoria and ‘climatic cure stations’ for tubercular patients from the north. At the turn of the century, Yalta’s transformation into a typical seaside resort was documented in a series of feuilletons by a famous Muscovite journalist Vlas Doroshevich. Everything he describes evokes French, Austrian and Italian resorts: The nature has doubly blessed the man here. It gave him marvellous views and abundant leisure to enjoy them. … When you approach … [Yalta] by the Livadia road, as you turn the corner you have this wonderful panoramic view: a hollow protected by green mountains and a tiny white town. Yalta resembles a cute little kitty that has curled into a ball and nestled on the very edge of a plush sofa.60 Doroshevich pointed out what made Yalta in 1906 an exclusive resort: the difficult access. There was no railroad, and a traveller had to come first by sea to Sevastopol, then take a horse-drawn carriage to Yalta. It was a deliberate policy of the aristocratic Crimean landowners who wanted to keep the charming place for themselves. Doroshevich warned: ‘When a railroad is brought to Yalta and therefore life here becomes cheaper, the pretty town will lose its charm’. He foresaw an invasion of ‘the dull petty bourgeoisie, appalled by overpaying a penny for any purchase, always trembling at the thought of tomorrow’.61 Doroshevich stayed at the same fashionable hotel Rossyia where Sazonov would stay 10 years later. It faced the waterfront, and at night the author was lulled by the murmur of the surf; in the morning he stepped out onto his balcony and saw the glittering golden expanse of the sea, while a gentle breeze caressed his face. Other hotel guests were retired army generals, who chatted in the lobby after breakfast and wealthy entrepreneurs who brought their mistresses with them: ‘Next to a solid, respectable, elderly, obese gentleman you often see an elfin creature covered with flowers, laces and ribbons, always laughing merrily.’ ‘It is customary here,’ Doroshevich said assuringly.62 Yalta’s charm in the eyes of this high-paid journalistic celebrity was that ‘at least for a while one feels free from labour, concerns and calculations.’ There

The flight from spas and the end of an era: 1914–1919  309 was no industry in Yalta, and it had no banks. A branch of the state bank only functioned during the season, and the very appearance of its office confirmed in Doroshevich’s opinion that the town was a carefree, happy place. The bank was in a neo-Greek villa decorated by statues of Jupiter, Venus and Diana, with a Latin inscription over the entrance: ‘Glory to him who loves. Woe to him who knows no love. Perish the man who bans love’.63 Elegantly dressed ladies under parasols strolled along the waterfront. Merry public filled the restaurants facing the sea. An orchestra played in the evenings on the promenade. After nine, when Yalta’s streets emptied, through the thin walls of in his hotel room Doroshevich heard kissing and giggling in the room on his right and painful coughing on his left. Invalids and adulterers were Yalta’s two main categories of visitors. The gaunt paper-white tuberculosis patients appeared on the promenade only early in the morning. Later, scorching sunshine drove them back into their homes. Burials also took place at dawn, before anyone could see them and become upset.64

The Crimea in 1917–1919 The Yalta ‘velvet season’ was normally in September and October, after the heat was over, but in 1917 the weather was not a consideration. Sazonov wrote in June: So far I have not suffered from heat. … It is true that my room is on the north-east side and in daytime I move little, because I need physical rest more than ever before. I do not know whether it is illness or old age. I have also had some emotional respite here. Whether because they are parasites or for another reason, Crimean residents are less inclined to political discussions than our other countrymen. It is a trait that we should be thankful for. But the last part of his letter showed how ephemeral the Crimean quiet was. The gusts of the nearing storm had already pushed many of his acquaintances out of their St. Petersburg homes and into the sunny Crimea, where some owned estates and others lived in rented lodgings. I found many acquaintances here and the day before yesterday I did the first tournée de visites [round of visits] in the area. For this occasion an audience with M[aria] F[edorovna] was arranged for me. It almost destroyed my emotional balance that I had regained with such effort. One cannot hear her tell what she has lived through since 2 March [Nicholas II’s abdication] without pity and shame. Apparently we lack all generosity and chivalry.65

The Romanovs in the Crimea The lack of courtesy that Maria Fedorovna encountered on the way to the Crimea in the spring of 1917 was nothing compared to what she experienced in 1918, when the civil war left her trapped on the Crimean Peninsula. In 1915, she left

310  Business of Europe the capital in order to avoid a conflict with her son and daughter-in-law, and moved to Kiev. Her daughter Xenia and several other members of the imperial family for the same reason moved to the Crimea. They were angry with Empress Alexandra and with Nicholas II, feared for their dynasty’s future and preferred to vent their disapproval among their intimates far away from the capital. The ranks of self-exiled aristocracy in the Crimea kept growing. After the assassination of Grigory Rasputin in late 1916, the young Prince Yusupov, one of the assassins, was banished to his parents’ estate in Central Russia, then allowed to accompany his wife (the emperor’s niece) to the Crimea for health reasons. Other members of St. Petersburg and Moscow high society were there, too, taking their usual sea baths and excursions in the mountains. After Nicholas II’s abdication, his mother bade him farewell at the army’s headquarters. As he went to join his wife and children at Petrograd, she went on to the Crimea, with her youngest daughter Olga and two sons-in-law: Olga’s husband Colonel Kulikovsky and Xenia’s husband Grand Duke Aleksandr. The former Commander-in-Chief Grand Duke Nicholas and his brother Peter, with their Montenegrin wives and children, were also in the Crimea. Civil war broke out in Russia in early 1918, and the Crimea was taken over by the Bolsheviks. In April the dowager empress sat down to write a letter to her old lady-in-waiting Ekaterina Ozerova in Moscow. It ended up among random papers filed at the Russian State Library as part of the archive of Grand Duke Sergey, who had died in 1905; the papers lay there unread until now. The 18-page letter is the closest to a memoir that the dowager wrote: As there is no occasion to send this letter I will keep writing for a while and will describe for you our life here. To begin with, we are completely imprisoned, we cannot even walk in the garden, we are only allowed to sit in the front yard. I do not care, because since I came here I have never left the house. I want nothing. … My daughter Olga lives in Harax with her husband and the Baby, in one of the little chalets that [Grand Duke] Georgy Mikhailovich has for rent. She is not allowed to see us and you can imagine how this cruelty and nonsense infuriate me! In general, everything that is being done with us is extremely stupid. First, for a whole year that we were in Ai Todor [her son-in-law’s estate] we were not allowed to visit … [Grand Duke Nicholas]: then suddenly the Sevastopol committee decided to lock us all up together at his house here, and the poor [hosts] had to move out of their rooms for my sake. …The Passion Week has arrived and as we are not allowed to leave the house, luckily we managed to set up a little chapel here. … Unfortunately I am not in a good enough mood, harbouring so many nasty sentiments of rage and hatred against all those, whom the devil has inspired to destroy our poor Russia, which, really, does not exist any more! The very thought makes my heart bleed! Jesus said that we must forgive our enemies and those who persecute us, but I cannot do it yet, perhaps before I die I will be able to. For now it is impossible. They have been and still are too horrible, hordes worse than savage beasts that kill all the

The flight from spas and the end of an era: 1914–1919  311 innocents and destroy and steal from everyone, real monsters. I also hope that the Lord will punish them still in this life for all the horrors and atrocities that they have committed. Here, in the last two weeks, we have lived frozen in horror, because gangs of hooligany [delinquents] arrive in automobiles, enter people’s homes, arrest people after stealing from them all they can. My poor Olga has also lived through terrible moments the day before yesterday. She was sitting quietly in her room when panicking people came running and shouted to her to escape because the Kr. Ar: [ Red Army] with pulemety [machine guns] were coming. Spasaites skoree [Save yourselves!] Then she seized the Baby and with her husband they ran like crazy to the seashore and arrived here in the garden without warm clothes, without hats, as they were in the house. Their commissar, the only good one, they took him away in a motor car and killed him and threw his poor corpse over the wall. In short, it is awful, and all these atrocities and crimes remain unpunished. We hear all the time that the Ukr [ainians] are on the way to deliver us from these hordes, but so far nothing. Fortunately, our overseer, who has been guarding us for almost a year, is an excellent person and thanks to him we are still alive because they wanted by all means to get rid of us. … All this happened two weeks ago, and all the men, including those of our family, have been guarding us every night. No one undressed, except me, and I slept peacefully in my bed, with the only difference that I locked my door with a key. Fortunately, all this ended well and all these horrible Bolsheviks escaped by boat from Yalta with everything they had robbed – millions. …Finally, the poor Yalta inhabitants and the people on the coast can breathe more freely. Since I began to write to you we have suffered another terrible humiliation and shame. The Huns arrived and have simply invaded all the coast, pretending to be the masters and trying to play the beautiful part of liberators. You can imagine my feelings, so I will not mention them. At least there is a little more order and we do not see these horrible hooligans who are hiding, and if the Ger. seize them, they hang or shoot them, which is lucky for all the poor local population. … My daughter Olga is now living in what they call the Ai-Todor barracks, where during the war wounded officers used to live . … Here they are much better off, in the middle of a arboretum full of flowers, quite near the lighthouse, if you remember it. … This letter is becoming longer and longer, but as there is no communication with Moscow, it is impossible to mail it. We are already at 14 May today. Almost two months since I began writing. The weather is magnificent, everything is in bloom, there are masses of roses, like I have not seen anywhere else. Facing the window of my bedroom I have an enormous Pawlonia, all covered with delightful lilac flowers, similar to wisteria, but upright. Everything is beautiful, but what I enjoy the most is that I am so near the sea, not like at Ai Todor, where it is so far that I never go. Here I can go to the beach every day and I sit on the beach and breathe in the good salty air. … Now I began to feel like another person and I can take walks again, something I could not do all last year. Well! We are not imprisoned anymore

312  Business of Europe and can see other people. I saw poor Katia Kl[einmichel] and your cousin Masha [Ozerova], who visited me after Easter. … Here, too, everything is horribly expensive, meat is a rare treat, we eat from obshchi kotel [potluck], eating the same things as the servants, which is good because they cannot complain that we do not feed them well enough. For lunch we have a basic soup and one dish, either eggs or an omelette, sometimes fish – that is all, never a dessert. The luckiest days were when someone gave us potatoes, but we have not seen them for a long time. But we are promised young potatoes soon, which will be very pleasant. People have never been so interested in eating, everyone asks everyone they meet what they had for lunch or dinner. In the evening, as soon as I finish dinner, I am already famished and I dream of having something tasty but I have to be content with a piece of bread and butter. Luckily the sweet Mr. Scavenius [the Danish minister] sent me some excellent Danish butter that I eat with pleasure and gratitude. But, really, all this is even very good for the soul and one can get used to everything except human nastiness and lack of patriotism and honour, which do not exist anymore, as well as justice. In June she still had not found an occasion to send the letter and added a few more pages. Her family moved again, and now she was living next to her daughter Olga. I have my own household, quite independent. The house and the garden are delightful, and when I arrived I almost felt as if I was back in my [Danish] house in Hvidore! It is also near the sea and I can easily go down and return. But it torments me that I have taken possession of a house that is not mine and what will the owners say? They will think that I follow the example of the Bolsheviks! But I hope that in time they will forgive me. It was not possible even to ask their permission. Her closing words were: It is too painful to know nothing and to be cut off from everyone. When will this end? This waiting is frightening and so stressful. Please write to me as soon as you can and do not make me languish. I crave news and I know nothing. Still, I have had a great joy of receiving a letter from my younger sister who does not know anything and seems so concerned about us. About my poor sons I know nothing, not even where they are! All this is unbelievably cruel! At the moment everything is quiet here, and we cannot believe that we can breathe freely and come back to life. Here I stop, kissing you tenderly, dear Catherine, sending a thousand affectionate wishes to you and yours. God bless you and keep you in good health and may he give me the joy of seeing you one day.66 She never saw her sons or Ekaterina Ozerova again. The Crimean coast became the last patch of Russian soil which she and her surviving family

The flight from spas and the end of an era: 1914–1919  313 walked until the spring of 1919. When the White Army was evacuating from Sevastopol, they left for exile on board a British man of war. The spa era was over, and so was the era of aristocracy’s dominance, along with their culture and their style.

After the war Spa life was slow to pick up after the war. In 1921, a visitor to the Italian Riviera saw no sign of ‘the old luxurious cosmopolitan life’ in the former fashionable resort spots Portofino, Rapallo and Nervi. He found the sight of seedy casinos and decaying hotels depressing and attributed the change partly to the fearful expectation of a revolution in Italy and partly to Europe’s impoverishment.67 Spas were in decline because after the war fences went up between states: visas became necessary for crossing borders. In the ravaged, starved Europe, states wanted to limit migrations of the have-nots in search of a living or asylum. There were psychological barriers, too: the class that created and maintained the spa tradition lost many of its young men in the war, and bitter memories kept many people from going on pleasure trips to yesterday’s enemy country. Many people from the old leisured class took salaried jobs and missed ‘the season’. When the American traveller wrote that the Italian Riviera was empty after the war, he at once corrected himself: ‘These places are only empty in the sense that London is called “empty” during August and September’.68 The beaches were full, but it was not the fashionable crowd of the prewar seasons. Russian exiles filled Wiesbaden because the rampant German inflation made it the cheapest place for the poor. Many of the Russians who used to play golf and gamble on the seaside returned to the Riviera in the 1920s as impoverished exiles to settle in old age asylums, charitably set up by their wealthier countrymen. The young ones did not return at all. Count Sergei Kutuzov, who used to take holidays on the Riviera before 1914, reappeared in Cannes in the 1930s as a manager of Coco Chanel’s local boutique. At the same time, all over Europe many more wage-earners enjoyed statutory holidays and wanted to spend them away from cities. Sports became a mass fashion, and young people from all social classes filled the beaches. At some formerly fashionable resorts, crowds of day trippers outnumbered the traditional long-term visitors. Exclusiveness and social cohesion disappeared. And once resorts ceased to be the gathering places for the elite, the new generation of policy makers dispensed with them. The spa culture became obsolete. On one hand, medical treatments became more radical and reliance on nature was not deemed the best solution; on the other hand, we do not need the nonmedical opportunities that spas offered in the 19th century: freedom for unaccompanied women, gambling for both men and women. Spas declined as a social venue because ‘society’ in the old sense ceased to exist. With our nuclear families and insulated lives, as soon as we leave home or workplace, we are among strangers. In the 19th century, members of the elite looked forward to meeting their relatives and friends every year at Marienbad or Biarritz. The old belief that ‘constancy in all things’ is essential for a stable and happy life has been replaced by pursuit of novelty that tempts people to try a

314  Business of Europe different thing and a different place every summer, and we do not spend enough time elsewhere to form lasting meaningful ties. As G.K. Chesterton pointed out, ‘friendship always needs time’.69 Changed social practices imply a different culture of time management. Society’s priority is acquisition of wealth, so, like everything else, time is viewed in monetized terms. What can be transformed into money cannot be spent on retreats, leisurely conversations with friends or passive enjoyment of the nature. Most of us can better afford pills or surgery than leisure. But spas did not disappear. During the 20th century, social medicine programs were introduced in most European countries. Every year cure stations in Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic and the Soviet Union received tens of thousands patients who came for prescribed cures subsidized by social insurance systems. But it was a different crowd in a different era, and it would make for a different story. Spas might be on the verge of a comeback. At least, that is the impression one gets from observing the popularity of ‘alternative’ and ‘traditional’ medicine methods: acupuncture, yoga, Tai Chi, massage, homeopathy. People look for ways to protect their health and nervous system from the fallout of their pursuit of efficiency. Western society feels betrayed by medicine and is suspicious of pharmaceuticals. It is the very mood that 200 years ago drove people to try hydrotherapy and balneology.70 As people seem to have accepted the link between health and quality of lifestyle, they might begin to seek ways of freeing up time for other things than work. After all, to a great degree we still inhabit a world that we owe to the generous extravagance with which our ancestors spent their time: ‘Arts and sciences beginning with the 18th century originated in leisure’.71

Notes 1 E.S. Ozerova to Empress Maria Fedorovna, 20.6/6.7.1914, GARF 642–1–2387, ll.31–34. 2 V. B. Lopukhin, Zapiski byvshego direktora departmenta ministerstva inostrannykh del (St. Petersburg: Nestor-Istoria, 2008), 228. 3 Ch. Lardy to A. Hoffmann, 12.7.1914, Archives Federales Suisses, Berne, 43277, 2–4 (accessed on 19.05.2016). 4 James Joll, The Origins of The First World War (London: Longman, 1992), 12. 5 Hugo Baron von Reischach, Under Three Emperors (London: Constable and Company, 1927), 200. 6 N.P. Karabchevsky, Mirnye plenniki. V kurortnom plenu (Petrograd, 1915), 29. 7 Karabchevsky, 26–28. 8 Karabchevsky, 13. 9 ‘Where and When?’ The Times, 15.7.1914, 11. 10 Lopukhin, 231. 11 ‘King George and German Manoeuvres’, 20.7.1914, The Manchester Guardian, 9. 12 J. Choffat to A. Hoffmann, 25.7.1914, Archives Federales Suisses, Berne, 43279, 8–9. 13 Joshua Sanborn, “Education for War, Peace and Patriotism in Russia on the Eve of World War I”, An Improbable War. The Outbreak of World War I and European Political Culture before 1914 (eds. Holger Afflerbach and David Stevenson) (New York: Berghahn Books, 2007), 225.

The flight from spas and the end of an era: 1914–1919  315 14 A.K. Benckendorff to A. P. Iswolsky, 27.06/10.07.1907, cited in Marina Soroka, Britain, Russia and the Road to the First World War: The Fateful Embassy of Count Aleksandr Benckendorff. 1903–1916 (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2011), 139. 15 ‘Relations Broken Off”, The Times, 27.7.1914, 8. 16 Gunther Kronenbitter, ‘The Militarization of Austrian Foreign Policy’, in Holger Afflerbach and David Stevenson (eds.), An Improbable War?The Outbreak of World War I and European Political Culture before 1914 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2007), 87. 17 Unknown to A. Savinsky.4.7.1914, AVPRI, 340–706–724, ll.348–351 ob. 18 Paul Schroeder, ‘World War I as Galloping Gertie: A Reply to Joachim Remak’, Systems, Stability and Statecraft. Essays on the International History of Modern Europe (eds. David Wetzel et al.) (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 139. 19 Lord Grey of Fallodon to A.K. Benckendorff, 22.12.1916, BC2, Box 15. 20 Reischach, 251–252. 21 ‘Relations Broken Off’, The Times, 27.7.1914, 8. 22 Van der Vliet, Diary, 13/26.7.1914, BL, Add 4973, 104. 23 N. Wrangel, Vospominaniia. Ot krepostnogo prava do bolshevikov (Moscow: NLO, 2003), 383–389 (ePub). 24 Soroka, 253. 25 Georges Wagnière, La Suisse et la Grande Guerre. Notes et souvenirs (Lausanne: Librairie Payot et Cie, 1938), 47–48. 26 I.I. Kolyshko, Veliky raspad (St. Petersburg: Nestor-Istoriia, 2009), 262–263. 27 Sir E. Grey to A. von Mensdorff, 12.08.1914, FO/800/41 (186), 329–331. 28 Wagnière, 47–48. 29 Kolyshko, 263. 30 Wrangel, 383–389. 31 Empress Maria Fedorovna to G.D. Xenia, 31.7.1914, GARF, 662–1–184, 185. 32 Dnevniki imperatritzy Marii Fedorovny (1914–1920, 1923gg.) (Moscow: Vagrius, 2005), 46–47. 33 N.A. Epanchin, Na sluzhbe trekh imperatorov (Moscow: Nashe Nasledie, 1996), 395. 34 Eric Mension-Rigau, 654. 35 Karabchevsky, 32–33. 36 Karabchevsky, 72. 37 Karabchevsky, 77. 38 Karabchevsky, 55. 39 Karabchevsky, 114. 40 Karabchevsky, 128. 41 I.V. Kudashev to A.K. Benckendorff, 9/22.8.1914, BA, Box 13. 42 Vera Narichkine-Witte, Souvenirs d’une fillette Russe, 1890–1900 (Paris: Editions Baudinière, 1927), 232. 43 Cited in Kolyshko, 263. 44 Vera Narichkine-Witte, 233–234. 45 A.D. Shervashidze to G.D. Nikolai Mikhailovich, 14.09.1914, GARF, 670–1–431, ll.83–88 ob. 46 Geza Mattachich, 35. 47 Th. de Bulgarine, 2:238. 48 Comte A. de Ségur, Vie du comte Rostopchine: gouverneur de Moscou en 1812 (Paris: V. Retaux et fils, 1893), 220. 49 A.I. Nelidov to K.A. Gubastov, 20.2/4.3.1881, IRLI RAN, 463–26, ll.138–141 ob. 50 A.K. Benckendorff to S.P. Shuvalova [n.d.], GARF, 1126–1–154, ll.171–173 ob. 51 S. Münz, Prince Bülow, 159. 52 S. V. Kulikov, S.V. Burokraticheska’ia elita Rossiiskoi imperii nakanune padeni’ia starogo poriadka (1914–1917) (Riazan, 2004), 360. 53 Kulikov, 97.

316  Business of Europe 4 William J. Oudenek, Ways and By-Ways in Diplomacy (London: Peter Davies, 1939), 208. 5 55 S.D. Sazonov to D.I. Tolstoy, 7.7.1916, RGIA, 696–1–508, ll.50–51 ob. 56 Oudendyk, 208. 57 G.N. Mikhailovsky, Zapiski. Iz istorii rossiiskogo vneshnepoliticheskogo vedomstva. 1914–1920 (Moscow: Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniia, 1993), 1:200 (ePub). 58 S.D. Sazonov to D.I. Tolstoy, 25.10.1916, RGIA, 696–1–508, ll.57 ob. 59 S.D. Sazonov to D.I.Tolstoy, 6.11.1916, RGIA, 696–1–508, ll.56 ob. 60 Vlas Doroshevich, ‘Krymskie rasskazy’, Collected Works vol. 3 (Moscow: Tovarishestvo I.D. Sytina, 1906), 7. 61 Doroshevich 9. 62 Doroshevich 8. 63 Doroshevich 9. 64 Doroshevich 13. 65 S.D. Sazonov to D.I. Tolstoy, 23.6.1917, RGIA, 696–1–508, ll.53–55 ob. 66 Empress Maria Fedorovna to E.S. Ozerova, OR RGB, 253–20–9, ll.1–14 ob. 67 Joseph Hone, ‘Reflections on the Riviera’, The North American Review, 213, 784 (1921), 386. 68 Hone, 386. 69 G.K. Chesterton, ‘The Crime of Captain Gahagan’, 0500421.txt (accessed on 3.1.2016). 70 Roger H. Charlier and Marie-Claire P. Chaineaux, 838. 71 L.Ginzburg, Zapisnye knizhki. Vospominaniia. Esse (St. Petersburg: Iskusstvo-Sankt Peterburg, 2009), 248.


Unlike soldiers, diplomatists are not … the spoilt children of historians. —Jules Cambon

Diplomats became scapegoats during the First World War in order to protect the rest of the state machineries from being questioned by the war-fatigued ­Europeans. Shifting the blame was simply done by pointing out that diplomats belonged to aristocracy ‘which by 1914 had been divorced from government in their respective countries.’1 In the century that followed the Great War, it became almost a convention to blame ‘the old diplomacy’ for relying on force to press its point. But this approach is even more obvious in today’s world, which is why warriors, not diplomats, are the heroes of popular histories that fill the shelves of bookstores. Societies that look to violence to solve international problems tend to admire effective killers. The people whose business it is to try to settle conflicts without violence lack glamour. The ‘old diplomats’ became associated with balance-of-power politics, secret treaties and the willingness to pursue a hard line, including armed force, as a requisite of effective diplomacy.2 Social historians have, through frequent use, worn to death John Bright’s scathing characterization of the 19th-century British foreign service as ‘a gigantic system of outdoor relief for the aristocracy of Great Britain’.3 In a review of George Kennan’s The Decline of Bismarck’s European Order: Franco-Russian Relations, 1875–1890, James Joll declared that as soon as a historian looks at the foreign relations of any era, he is ‘immediately confronted by the inadequacy of the “actors” for the parts they were expected to play’.4 But this had been the stock complaint of the power-hungry ‘third estate’ since the 18th century. Philosophers, from Montesquieu and Rousseau to Bentham, claimed that diplomacy was guided by private motives, petty interests and the monarchs’ whims, that accident and intrigues placed the wrong people at the helm of power and at the table of negotiations. And yet, like spa cures, old diplomacy worked well for the society that produced it. Its personal, urbane, cosmopolitan style suited the largely royal and aristocratic political order. As Paul Schroeder pointed out, what undermined the Vienna system was not ‘old diplomacy’ per se but the assumption, still reigning

318 Conclusion today, that systems, rules, norms and principles are only instruments that can and should be manipulated for the particular ends of particular states, leaders, groups, causes and peoples.5 The cohesion of the European diplomatic corps, stemming from the diplomats’ shared social and professional culture, was reflected in the degree of their informal relations.6 This allowed great flexibility and less necessary commitment without conflicting with official diplomacy since both were based on the same principles: that it was essential to have a constant intercourse between states and that face-to-face interaction was the most effective way to reach a compromise. Contacts at spas were a customary form of informal diplomacy, serving various needs, from defusing crises to sounding the other party out prior to official meetings within an agreeable and helpful setting. The value of the spas as diplomatic centres peaked during critical epochs: the initial period after the Napoleonic wars, Italian and German unification, the emergence of two antagonistic blocs of states and the various Balkan crises. In more relaxed times, they remained at very least valuable places for gathering and exchanging information and for various European leaders to get to know each other. Nineteenth-century diplomacy did not achieve its declared goal of a stable peace in Europe. Cosmopolitanism and internationalism were not as universally spread in society as among the diplomats; and even where these values existed, they did not automatically lead to the disappearance of power struggle, although they did help to reduce tensions. Still, a century of the old diplomats’ efforts to preserve European peace gave rise to a new political thinking, including pacifism, which – ironically – blamed the diplomats for wars. The ‘open’ diplomacy championed by a new political order after 1919 meant the self-determination of nations, popular control of foreign policy and the rational settlement of disputes by arbitration and through a supranational organization.7 But the ‘new’ diplomacy’s peacekeeping record does not compare favourably with that of its predecessor. Social origins and the manners of diplomats have changed, but not the content of politics. Wrestling advantages from weaker adversaries with little thought for long-term consequences is ‘living from hand to mouth’, as an old-school diplomat described such a strategy. It paves the way for future conflicts, in which no complete victory can ever be achieved. Old diplomats understood this better and were more disposed to compromise and self-­restraint than today’s political elite which assumed the diplomats’ functions. Their dedication to avoiding war, reinforced by skepticism and resignation, made the old diplomats largely impervious to nationalist and partisan slogans; and this isolated them from their contemporaries and their successors even more than their aristocratic origins. It is not the individuals but the nature of politics that dictates the goals and contemporary culture prompts the methods. For much of the long 19th century, the main desire of the dominant European class, the monarchs and aristocrats,8 was to avoid a major international upheaval. Behind the international conferences dedicated to this principle lay the informal meetings and agreements, including those which took place amid the pleasures of the

Conclusion  319 various spas, and the atmosphere that stimulated this cooperation. Without it a vital element of 19th-century diplomacy is missing.

Notes 1 A. Ponsonby, Democracy and Diplomacy: a Plea for Popular Control of Foreign Policy (London: Methuen & Co., 1915), 64. 2 Brian McKercher, ‘Old Diplomacy and New’, Diplomacy and World Power: Studies in British Foreign Policy 1890–1950 (eds. M. Dockrill andf B. McKercher) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 83. 3 For example, David Cannadine, The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy (New York: Vintage Books, 1999), 281. 4 James Joll, ‘The Old Diplomacy’, The New York Review of Books, 24.1.1980. http:// (accessed on 20.8.2016). 5 Paul W. Schroeder, The Transformation of European Politics, 1763–1848 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 801. 6 Mai’ia K. Davis Cross, 2. 7 Arno L. Mayer, Political Origins of the New Diplomacy, 1917–1918 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1959). 8 Arno J. Mayer, The Persistence of the Old Order: Europe to the Great War (New York: Pantheon Books, 1981).

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Aachen, see Aix-la-Chapelle Abbazia (Istria) 41, 46, 124, 283 Abeken, Heinrich 210, 226; in Ems 232–241 accommodation 39, 45, 121, 199; inns 48–49, 91; grand hotels 27, 28, 43, 45–49, 60, 68, 75–77, 119, 228–230, 296 Aehrenthal, Count Alois von 93, 295; political objectives 213; correspondence with Berchtold 213–220; interview at Buchlau 220–223; reputation after Bosnian crisis 223 Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen), reputation 41; mineral sources 154; town 154; need for congress 148; allies’ fears regarding 152; preliminaries 151–153; congress’s work 156–158; Metternich about congress 153 Aix-les-Bains, distinctive features 19, 27, 41, 43, 45, 51, 83, 86; Queen Victoria’s stay 98, 121–2; Russo-French rapprochement 275–6 Alexander I, Emperor of Russia, and allied diplomats 145; foreign policy objectives 133, 143, 147–148, 151–153, 156–161; and Metternich 146; religious mood 152, 153; at Aix-la-Chapelle 154–156 Alexander II, Emperor of Russia 2, 69–70, 82, 118; in Schwalbach 120; and the Balkans 204, 278; and France 120, 204, 235; and Prussia 181, 225, 230, 231, 254, 257–258, 260; during FrancoPrussian conflict 238, 241–242; at Ems 228–231; and German unification 225 Alexander III, Emperor of Russia 122, 261, 285, 305; rapprochement with France 270–2, 275–6; during Bulgarian crisis 280, 283

Alexandra Fedorovna (Charlotte of Prussia, consort of Nicholas I), in Nice 122–123, 228; at Ems 117, 228; Cavour’s attentions to 122 Alexandra Fedorovna (Alix of Hesse, consort of Nicholas II) 21, 107, 310 Alexandra, Queen of Britain 71, 100, 118 ‘alphonses’ 104, 105 Alfonso XIII, King of Spain 138–139 ambassadors, functions of 4–6, 34, 110, 126, 131–2, 180, 298; social position and prestige 6, 172–173, 175 Anastasia Mikhailovna, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, on Riviera 58, 135; daughters’ marriages 136; charities 135–136 Anastasia Nikolaevna (of Montenegro, Duchess of Leuchtenberg, G.Duchess Nicholas of Russia) see Montenegro Andrassy, Count Gyula 85; and Gorchakov 182; about Bismarck 255; Gorchakov’s opinion of 183; Gastein deal 257–260 aristocracy, blood ties 2, 65; cosmopolitanism 2, 43, 51, 60, 61, 72, 72, 317, 318; political dominance 2, 4, 117, 317, 313; social prestige 55, 65, 68, 85; values 69–72; traditions 1, 5, 6, 43, 117, 122, 304; network 2, 4; national stereotypes 72; seasonal schedule 2, 65, 66; and the new rich 69–72; culture 3, 69, 158, 313, 318; as peer group 72; cohesion 73 Austria-Hungary, upper class 71, 72, 178; after Napoleonic wars 152, 153, 158, 173; domestic situation in 1840s 177; Austro-French relations 196, 201, 242; and Prussia 209, 212; Austro-Russian relations 163, 164, 179, 182, 203, 213, 214–220, 254, 261; Seven Weeks’ War

336 Index 181, 209, 210, 212, 213; German alliance 132, 256–260; Italian possessions 152, 159, 177; Italian liberation war 200, 202–205; Iswolsky’s Austrian policy 111; July crisis 296–299 Baden (Austrian) 174, 177 Baden-Baden, waters 15; attractions 28, 33, 51–53, 59, 60, 66, 71, 74, 108, 117, 119, 122; nature 30, 31, 51, 52; cocottes 66, 100, 101, 104; gambling 54, 58, 59, 84, 99; shops 91; visitors 108, 172, 177–186; Ladies’ Club 53, 108; hunting season 53, 54; political elite 203; Winterhalter 96; Daniel Home 96; musicians 94, 95 balneology 13, 14 Battenberg, Prince Alexander, in Bulgaria 278–281; relations with great powers 279; annexation of Rumelia 279, 280; visit to Giers 279; abdication 280 Benckendorff, Count Aleksandr Konstantinovich, as ambassador to Britain 5, 307; at Carlsbad 132; in Baden-Baden 305 Benedetti, Count Vincent (1867) memorandum 213, 242; concern about European peace 225; Ems mission 235; in Ems 236–239 Berchtold, Count Leopold von, and Edward VII see Edward VII; reputation 130, 296; in Buchlau interview 215–218; and Iswolsky 220; in July 1914, 298 Berlin Congress (1878) 213, 214, 217, 218, 219, 255–257, 260, 278, 279, 280 Berry, Marie-Caroline, Duchess de 90, 176, 198 Bertie, Sir Francis from Marienbad 132; on Edward VII’s diplomacy 187; about Lord Salisbury’s Dieppe conversation 278 Beust, Friedrich Ferdinand Count von, in Gastein 254; about Alexander II 2 Biarritz, nature and climate 29, 31, 32, 206, 207; sea-bathing 17, 207; development 205, 206; Empress Eugenie at Biarritz 198, 205–208; Napoleon III 207–212; Bismarck’s visits see Bismarck Bismarck, Otto, Prince von 70, 96, 182, 283; family life 247, 248;

political objectives 224–226, 261, 262; at spas 34, 103, 108, 247–249, 252, 253, 272; and ‘old diplomacy’ 165; and Russia 181, 225, 280; and Napoleon III 209–213; Biarritz visits 250–252; Spanish succession 227, 231–240; Franco-Prussian war 240–243; manipulation of media 235, 236, 241, 264, 265; Austro-German relations 254; Russo-German tensions 254, 255–257, 261, 272; and Gorchakov 6, 182–185, 255, 259, 260; Three Emperors’ League 254; Gastein Convention 257–259; Berlin Congress 255; Reinsurance Treaty 261, 262, 272, 275; resignation 262, 263; about William I and William II 253, 265; Rahden’s opinion 249; Stockmar’s opinion 225 Bismarck, Princess Johanna von, marriage 103, 247–250; husband’s letters 247, 248 Blowitz, Henri de, journalistic scoops 111; at San Remo 108 Bosnian crisis, origins 213; end of 219; repercussions 220 Botkin, Petr Sergeevich, on old diplomacy 4; contributor to the Novoye Vremya 109 Bourboule, popularity 31; cures at 20, 40 Britain 162; after Napoleonic wars 143–145, 152, 153, 156; AngloFrench entente 93, 131, 132, 186, 273, 278; Anglo-Russian relations 5, 6, 111, 131, 179, 183–185, 191, 213, 254, 261, 272, 306; reputation on continent 72 Bulgaria, see Battenberg; Ferdinand; Russia Bülow, Bernhard, Prince von, and the press 93, 109–110; talking to the Italian ambassador 186, 277; commending merchants 91; on Edward VII and William II 126, 132 buvette (mineral water fountain) 19, 20–26, 33; socializing around 23, 51, 68, 77, 78, 124, 137, 172, 191, 273; public at 149, 233, 239, 287 Campbell-Bannerman, Sir Henry, at Marienbad 128; on Edward VII’s company 128; death 125 Cannes, see the Riviera Capo d’Istria, Count Ioannis 147; political program 148, 152, 153, 160; Greek liberation 148; at Carlsbad 149–152;

Index  337 at Aix-la-Chapelle 153, 154, 156, 158; Metternich’s intrigue 160 Caraman, Louis-Charles-Victor, Marquis de 150 Carlsbad, sources 42, 43, 91; cures 23, 28, 34, 35, 105; popularity 2, 68, 71; patrons 43, 76, 82, 111, 117, 119, 131, 133, 137, 149–152, 161–3, 171, 174, 179, 189, 209, 215–218, 225, 228, 248, 249, 283, 285–288, 296, 298, 304, 305; Carlsbad congress (1819) 158–160 casinos 42, 43, 56, 97, 98, 120, 198, 205–207, 248, 276, 296, 313; original functions 77, 122, 155; rules 66, 77; gambling 44, 52, 54, 58, 59, 76, 84, 85, 91, 98–101, 135 Castlereagh, Robert Stuart, Viscount, character and reputation 145; about Alexander I 143; political goals 143, 144–146, 150, 152; at Aix-la-Chapelle 153, 154, 156, 157, 158; curiosity about suicide 174 Cavour, Count Camillo Benso di 199, 209; political goals 200, 201; compared to Bismarck 212; at Plombières 202–203; at Baden-Baden 203–204; attentions to Russia 122; war with Austria 204, 205 Chaudordy, Count Alexandre Damas de 109; on Anglo-Franco-Russian alliance 273; conversation with Salisbury 277–278 Clemenceau, Georges, at Carlsbad 131; with Edward VII 131; on Anglo-German tensions 13, 132 cocottes 57, 66, 130; reputation 101; appearance 100, 102; at spas 76, 90, 98, 100; style 102, 103; Cora Pearl 99, 101 congresses, era of 143–145 Conneau, Dr. Henri, Napoleon III’s go-between 201 Conversation see Konversation [Haus] Cora Pearl see cocottes cures 1, 2, 35, 105; social character 2, 5, 53–55, 84; post-cures 42; treatments 16, 21–23, 55; components of 13, 15, 26, 34, 35, 91; spa diet 27–28; natural environment 29–32; year-round cures 45 Dieppe, reputation 66; an old inn 48; bathing season 90, 176; Salisbury 109, 278 diplomacy, personal 4, 129, 195, 196, 239, 263; old vs new 317–318; methods 2, 3, 144, 145, 150, 179, 195, 279, 298, 318;

secret 195; conventions 6, 7, 35, 172; parliamentary control 2, 195, 196 diplomats, as social peers 4, 5, 77; image 7, 165, 172, 180, 201, 284; interactions 3–5, 144, 318; role in 1914, 298; functions 4–7; professional community 3–5, 318; corporate values 5–7; dealing with journalists 109–112; gathering intelligence 185; importance of personal relations 2; as scapegoats 298, 304, 317, 318 Edward VII, tastes 125; reputation 125, 186, 187; Berchtold’s disapproval 131; influencing him 187; pastimes at spas 125, 126, 128–130, 217; and international affairs 124, 129, 132, 187; Germanophobia 187; and Clemenceau 131, 132; and Iswolsky 111; Norwegian crown 189–191; and William II 126, 188, 189 Elena, Grand Duchess of Russia (Charlotte of Württemberg), spa cures 25, 44, 119, 175; spas as escape 82; matrimonial planning 134; political involvement 82, 118, 179–181, 203, 242; representing Russia 119; artistic patronage 94, 95, 122; and Bismarck 249, 250 Ems, popularity 35, 50, 60, 98, 99; mineral sources 91, 228; Alexander II at 229, 230; royalty huntresses at 124; summer 1870, 231–239; seasons 117; patrons 60, 100, 117, 118, 172, 174 Eugenie, Empress of the French (Countess de Montijo), public image 100, 120; contemporaries’ opinions 197; at Biarritz 206, 207; in Schwalbach 120, 121; at Eaux-Bonnes 60, 117 Ferdinand of Bulgaria, Prince, family 281; reputation 281; in Sofia 280–282; spa cures 282, 283; need to reconcile with Russia 281; Bismarck’s advice 283; contacts with S. Tatishchev 285, 287, 288; at Carlsbad 288; on Riviera 283; communications with Prince Lobanov 285, 286; Stambolov’s assassination 287; advice from relatives 289, 290; son’s religion 290 Foreign service see diplomacy, diplomats fountain, see buvette France, post-Napoleonic debt negotiations 149–151; political instability under

338 Index Louis XVIII 150, 151; viewed as cradle of revolution 161, 178; Richelieu at Aixla-Chapelle 154–158; under Napoleon III 182, 195–197, 200; annexation of Nice and Savoy 205; during Seven Weeks’ War 225; Franco-Prussian war 226, 242, 243; war scare 183, 184, 255; diplomatic isolation 254, 259–261, 277; Franco-Russian rapprochement 269, 270, 275, 276; Anglo-French entente 186, 187, 277, 278; in August 1914, 300 Francis Joseph II 83, 288; courtship 134, 135; spa meetings with William I 117, 209, 262; plea for Russian help 163, 164; signs peace with Napoleon III 205; on Riviera 121; and Edward VII 129, 131, 132; about Buchlau interview 219; Andrassy report 257 Frederick William, the Crown Prince of Prussia (Emperor Frederick III) 126, 182, 262; at San Remo 108 Frederick William, the Crown Prince of Prussia (son of William II) 136 Frederick William III King of Prussia 154, 159 Freycinet, Charles de, Franco-Russian rapprochement 273, 275 Gastein, waters 15, 26, 29, 259; patrons 78, 117, 254, 262; 1879 convention 257–259; Bismarck at 209, 210, 248, 249, 253, 261 Gentz, Friedrich von 149; reputation 146; at Aix-la-Chapelle 151, 153, 157; at Carlsbad 159, 160 Germany, prosperity 55; fear of 225; postNapoleonic era 158–160, 177; boycott of Württemberg 172–173; Seven Weeks’ War 181, 225; Russian attitude to unification 181, 225, 269; Napoleon III’s designs regarding 178, 179, 196; RussoPrussian relations 177, 180, 181, 182, 209; protection of interests 93; AngloGerman relations 126, 132; FrancoPrussian war 224–226, 242, 243; French war scare 183, 184; Austro-German relations 254, 255; Three Emperors’ League 261; Iswolsky on relations with Germany 111; in July 1914, 295, 298 Giers, Baron Nikolai Karlovich 285; in Franco-Russian diplomatic crisis 271, 272; about the Balkan crisis of 1886, 272, 279, 280; and Franco-Russian

rapprochement 275; and Franco-Russian military convention 276; his letter to Vlangali 280; and Russo-German relations 256, 261, 272, 273 Gontaut-Biron, Duc Élie de 255 Gorchakov, Prince Aleksandr Mikhailovich 109, 182, 257; as friend of Grand Duchess Elena 179, 181; and Bismarck 6, 165, 242, 253, 256; Morier’s assessment of 183–185; on AngloRussian relations 184; in 1870, 235, 240, 242; and French war scares 255; Bismarck’s opinion of 255, 256, 260; last years 261, 305 Goschen, Sir Edward, at Marienbad 111, 129, 131; reports to Lord Lansdowne 190, 191; reports to Sir Edward Grey 132 Gramont, Alfred, Comte de 21, 70, 123, 172 Gramont, Antoine Alfred Agenor, Duc de, on diplomat’s duties 6, 7; as ambassador to Austria-Hungary 228, 231; as foreign minister 228, 234, 235, 238, 240, 242; instructions to Benedetti 235, 237–239; dealing with the French public opinion 224, 235, 236 grand hotels, locations 45; architecture and planning 46; advantages 27, 28, 43, 47; expectations 47, 48, 49, 61; clientele 75; misgivings about 48, 49 Grey, Sir Edward 172; about preventing war 298; in July 1914, 299 Guizot, François, on Spain as France’s neighbour 226, 227; about cosmopolitanism 71; characteristic of Napoleon III 195, 196 Hardenberg, Prince Karl August von 158; and French debt negotiations 149–151; and Metternich 146, 149, 158–160 Hardinge, Sir Charles 129, 131, 132 Hohenzollern, Prince Anton 227, 237; Prince Leopold 227, 231–240 Holy Alliance 143, 144, 146, 147, 155, 160, 162, 164, 172, 318 Homburg, cures 15, 16, 82, 128; roulette 54, 58, 85, 99; patrons 54, 60, 71, 72, 126, 186, 188, 250, 254, 276, 277; ‘Homburg week’ 54; Edward VII 125, 126, 188; 1914 season 296, 302, 303 hydrotherapy 14, 15, 19, 35, 199, 314

Index  339 Ionin, Aleksandr Semenovich, on Russian foreign policy 273; Vladimir Aleksandrovich Ionin at spa 81; Marina Ionina saving money 83; Kiderlen-Wächter’s letters to Marina 185 Ischl, cures 15, 16, 25; patrons 44, 82, 129, 134, 177, 178, 185, 247, 298; snobs 60; summit meetings at 131, 132, 173, 216; Empress Elizabeth’s engagement at 134 Iswolsky, Aleksandr Petrovich, as ambassador in France 185, 186; and Austro-Russian relations 185; foreign policy goals 213, 214; negotiations with Aehrenthal 215, 216; at Carlsbad 111, 131, 132, 171; about German-Turkish relations 171; and Berchtold 217, 220; Buchlau meeting 216–218; Bosnian crisis 219; and the press 112, 217 Italy, spas 39, 55, 71, 107, 313; anti-Austrian movement 139, 200; Napoleon III’s plans regarding 196, 200; unification of 200, 201, 202, 204; Prussian alliance 211–213; balancing between two blocs 110, 137, 186, 251, 272, 277, 278 Jérome-Napoleon Bonaparte, Prince 59, 109; as go-between 6, 196; marriage 203, 204 Jomini, Baron Aleksandr Genrikhovich, about Three Emperors’ League 261; and the Austro-German alliance 260; about Russo-Bulgarian relations 279; about Franco-Russian rapprochement 270 Kissingen, cures 15, 16, 67, 92; reputation 27, 50; patrons 125, 161, 165, 256, 261; Bismarck at 96, 247, 248, 256 263–265; Nesselrode at 165; Kissingen Diktat 254 Kurhaus see thermal establishment Kursaal see thermal establishment Labouchere, Henry, about Russians 72; and British spa society 73; reconciliation with Edward VII 126; spas 84, 128 Lamsdorff, Count Vladimir Nikolaevich, retirement 305; about Russo-Bulgarian conflict 286, 288–290 Lansdowne, Henry Charles Keith Petty Fitzmaurice, Marquis of, and King Edward VII 188, 189–191; interest in Salisbury’s conversation with Chaudordy 278, 279

Lascelles, Sir Frank, with William II at Homburg 188, 189 League of Peace, see Triple Alliance Leopold II of Belgium 78, 187 Leopold, Prince, see Hohenzollern Lobanov, Prince Aleksei Borisovich 281; as candidate for the Vienna embassy 180; as foreign minister, see Ferdinand of Bulgaria Loftus, Lord Augustus, at Baden-Baden 178, 179 Louis Napoleon, see Napoleon III Lucca, Metternich’s opinion 44, 45 Maria Fedorovna (Dorotea of Württemberg), Empress, at Aix-la-Chapelle 158 Maria Fedorovna (Dagmar of Denmark) Empress, on French seaside 119, 277; in July 1914 301; in the Crimea 1917–1919, 309–313 Marienbad waters 15, 18, 33, 42, 127; weight loss treatments 23; Dr. Schindler 23; Dr. Ott 129, 133; patrons 43, 59, 66, 73, 79, 93, 106, 111, 123–125, 127, 128, 132, 134, 189, 190, 276, 279; royalty huntresses 130 Menton, see Riviera Metternich, Prince Klemens von 145, 150; political views 145, 148, 173; German affairs 159; Carlsbad congress 160; at spas 44, 45, 151, 177; system 143, 145, 146, 158, 162; reputation 145, 173, 179; collaborators 149–153, 161, 162, 177; and Alexander I 146, 151, 160, 161, 164; at Aix-la-Chapelle congress 152–158; and Daria Lieven 157; about Cavour 200–201; end of career 163, 164, 177, 178 mineral waters, classification of 15; uses of 14, 19–22; artificial mineral waters 33 Mohrenheim, Count Artur Pavlovich 109; in Copenhagen 269; and Alexander III 270; about German policy 269; diplomatic illness 271, 272; Franco-Russian rapprochement 269, 270, 275 Moltke, Count Helmuth von, in Pyrmont 30, 76; in Trouville 16; and Bismarck 240, 241 Monte Carlo 27; the casino 58, 59, 98, 99, 107, 123, 135; reputation 57, 58; Chekhov’s impression 100; Ballets Russes 96, 97

340 Index Montenegro, Prince Nikola of 137; territorial compensations 214, 218; survival strategy 137; daughters’ marriages136–138, 277 Morier, Sir Robert, background 183; about Gastein convention 210; and Gorchakov 183–185; and Anglo-Russian relations 185, 279; about Bismarck’s plans 225 Mukhanova-Kalergis, Maria, in BadenBaden 67, 94, 119, 178; fame 60; patronage of musicians 95; letters from spas 179–183; crossing Europe in 1848, 178 Munthe, Dr. Axel 106; and Swedish royalty 106–108; reputation in Russia 107 music at spas 60, 93–96, 130, 151, 157, 207, 233 Napoleon I Bonaparte, choice of envoys 4; nationalizes mineral sources 40; and Alexander I 146; effects on Europe 150; insults Metternich 173 Napoleon III Bonaparte, secret diplomacy 195; political goals 182, 196; patron of French spas 41, 60, 61; spa visits 198, 199, 200, 207, 208; and Cavour 199–203, 205; and Bismarck 209–212; on secret negotiations 196; secret messengers 6, 204; belief in the Bonapartes’ mission 196; Orsini’s attempt 200 Nauheim 297; waters 15; reputation 40; specialties 40 Nelidov, Aleksandr Ivanovich, need for spa cures 34, 35; at Scheveningen 49; at Carlsbad 76, 77; letter from Ischl 185, 257; about Russo-Bulgarian relations 285 Nesselrode, Count Karl Vasilievich 123, 134, family 65, 94; and Alexander I 147, 156; and Metternich 161–163, 164, 177; Aix-la-Chapelle congress 148, 153, 156; interests 147; and Anglo-Russian relations 164; about Bismarck 165; opinion of Metternich 163; reputation 147, 165; Bismarck’s opinion 165 Nesselrode, Countess Maria Dmitrievna 173; political views 133, 162, 173, 174; spa visits 174; acquaintances 76, 153, 157; reports to husband 171, 173–175; during the revolution of 1830, 175, 176; during the revolution of 1848, 178; about Metternich 177

Nice, see Riviera Nicholas, Tsesarevich, son of Alexander II 181 Nicholas I, and Napoleon III 7; Crimean war 164; and Metternich’s system 161, 162, 163; intimidating Nesselrode 165 Nicholas II 191; as autocrat 117; unpopularity 124; petitions 118; and Russo-Bulgarian conflict 285; view of Franco-Russian convention 276; dismissing ministers 305, 306; alienating his family 309, 310 Oertel 14; terrain method, see Nauheim Orlov, Prince Nikolai Alekseevich 251; Princess Ekaterina Nikolaevna 251, 252 Piedmont-Sardinia, see Cavour, Italy Plombières 211, 212; characteristics of 15, 61, 198; patrons 60, 61, 274; Napoleon III at 199; interview 201–203; method 21, 22 plutocrats, values 68, 69; social aspirations 49, 85, 132; image 70, 277; at spas 68 press, political analysts 7, 212, 218, 228, 271, 275, 278, 284, 286; reports from spas 41, 73, 108, 109, 122, 133, 154, 174, 189, 209, 217, 230, 231, 262, 265, 308; diplomats speaking to journalists 109–112, 264 Prim, Marshal (Juan Prim y Prats, Marquis de los Castillejos) 227; in Spanish succession crisis 227, 229, 234, 235, 240 Prince of Wales, see Edward VII promenade, social life 52, 53, 56, 75–77, 108, 124, 240, 309; filtered public 66, 229; planning of 91, 92, 257 Prussia, see Germany Quadruple Alliance 144, 151, 157, 162 Richelieu, Armand-Emmanuel du Plessis, Duc de 148, 158; French debt negotiations 149, 150; at Aix-laChapelle 154, 157 Ripon, Gwladys, Marchioness of 80; spa friendships 71; correspondence with A. Savinsky 81 Riviera, attractions 29, 30; reputation 55; patrons 47, 56, 58, 66, 78, 79, 83, 93, 118, 122, 135, 138, 277; foreign colonies 56, 93; changing the image 32, 57

Index  341 roulette 51, 104; source of spa revenue 53, 54, 58, 100; gamblers’ opinion 98; etiquette around roulette table 99, 126 royalty 107; at spas 83, 131, 182, 208, 253; arranging royal visits 117; royal incognito 118; royal courtships 133, 134; formal interviews 3, 129; accessibility 123 Royat, attractions 31, 40, 91; Lord Salisbury 109, 262 Russia, as member of Holy Alliance 144, 146, 160–163; criticism of imperial family 123; in Europe’s eyes 3, 164, 175; Anglo-Russian relations 5, 111, 122, 132, 157, 183, 184, 191, 305, 306; Russo-German relations 186, 209, 219, 224, 225, 231, 242, 254, 255–260, 272, 273, 304; Bismarck on Russian foreign policy 224, 225; after Napoleonic wars 143, 152, 153; Russo-Turkish war 255; diplomatic isolation 256; and Austria 146, 163, 164, 225; and Napoleon III 6, 182, 196, 202, 204; and republican France 254, 269–276; Russo-Bulgarian relations 7, 272, 278–280, 285, 288, 290, 291; under Alexander III 270; British opinion of Russians 72; in July 1914 295, 297–299 Saburov, Petr Aleksandrovich 256; his chiefs’ opinion 256, 261; Kissingen memorandum 257; meeting Bismarck 256, 257; as ambassador 257, 261 Salazar, Miguel de, see Spain Salisbury, Lord Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, Marquess of, personality 40; effects of cures 262; at Royat 109; about Bismarck’s policies 255; about Prince of Wales’s health 126; conversation with Chaudordy 277, 278 Salso Maggiore, reputation 39; characteristics 40; Russians at 40 Samper, criticism of spas 85 Savinsky, Aleksandr Aleksandrovich 3, 4, 107; about Munthe 106; at spas 218; correspondence with Lady Ripon 81 Sazonov, Sergei Dmitrievich, cures 66, 306; about Monte Carlo 59; as minister 186, 305, 306; in July 1914, 297, 299, 304; resignation 305, 306; wartime spa cures 306–309 Scheveningen, rise to popularity 42, 49 Schumann, Clara, see music at spas

sea-bathing 13, 15–18, 176; popularity 18, 57; seaside resorts 90, 208; bathing costumes 17, 207; in wartime 310 Shuvalov, Count Petr Andreevich 77, 110; Count Pavel Andreevich 261; Reinsurance Treaty 261, 272 sources, categories of 15, 16 spas, old spa culture 1–3, 71, 90, 313, 314; physicians 35, 39; reputation 2, 83, 105–07; and lifestyle 18, 28, 55, 105, 314; and time management 314; methods 14–16, 22, 24–27, 51, 134; environment 32, 33; Chekhov’s opinion 25; Taffy on spas 50, 105; fashionable spas 27, 28, 32, 39, 41–43, 45, 50, 56, 57, 65, 90; ‘serious’ spas 41, 60; growth 91, 197–199; foreign colonies at 51; fashion 41, 73–75, 77; social conventions 77, 78, 81, 121, 125, 145, 158; social life 47, 85; kept women 78; spa romance 79; marriage market 135–139; as refuge 35, 82, 149, 174, 304–308 Spain, during Restoration 152; and colonies 156; instability 177; as France’s neighbour 226, 232, 236, 237; Isabella II 177, 226; succession to the throne 227, 231–239 St. Moritz see wintering stations Stambolov, Stefan, dictatorship of 280, 284; assassination of 287; and Prince Ferdinand 281, 283, 284, 286 Suvorin, Aleksei Sergeevich, impressions from Biarritz 32; observing Monte Carlo casino 59; contacts 109, 284 table d’hôte 27, 28; socializing at 76, 206, 299; tariff meals 91 Tatischev, Sergei Semenovich, background 284, 285; about Russian diplomacy 284; about Russian foreign policy 273; and Ferdinand of Bulgaria 286; in Sofia 284; at Carlsbad 288 Tcharykov, Nikolai Valerievich 186, 218 thalassotherapy, see sea-bathing thermal establishment 51, 92; Kurhaus 20, 49, 50, 51, 53, 96, 130, 134, 228, 229, 231; Kursaal 51, 54, 228, 229, 302; thermalism 13, 43; thermal stimulation 15, 198 Töplitz 43, 149, 159, 162; during 1848 revolution 178; radioactive waters 15, 35

342 Index tourists, middle class at spas 50, 121, 128, 129; viewed by aristocracy 67, 68 travel, in early 19th century 35, 44, 66, 144, 161; railroads 44, 46, 66; women travelling 46 Triple Alliance 186, 220, 255, 261, 262, 269, 273, 277, 295, 298 tuberculosis 16, 26, 29, 106, cure stations 55, 92, 106, 135, 277, 309 Turgenev, Ivan Sergeevich, at BadenBaden 52, 53; amateur theatre at BadenBaden 95, 96; inevitability of war 225, 226; spa society 85 Valfrey, J.-J. (‘Whist’) 275, 277 Vallet, Archbishop, conversation with Bismarck 259–260 Vannovsky, General Petr Semenovich, his cures 273–274 Viardot, Pauline, see music at spas Vichy, rise, fall and rise 41, 42, 44; patrons 205, 234, 273; medical reputation 15, 16, 18, 24, 25, 34, 61; in 17th century 19, 23; politics 7, 273–276; entertainment 102, 103; marriage market 137; in 1914, 296, 300 Victor Emmanuel, King of PiedmontSardinia, see Cavour, Italy Victoria (n. Victoria of Cobourg, G.D. of Hesse-Darmstadt) 276 Victoria, Queen of Sweden, on Capri, see Munthe Victoria, Queen, incognito 118; at Aix-les-Bains 83, 84, 121; at Cimiez 47, 121; Lord Granville’s request 122 Villa Franca, lease to Russia 122, 200

Werther, Baron Karl von, and Spanish succession 227; and Gramont 234, 238; at Ems 234, 236; recalled 238 Wildbad 235, 236, 240; characteristics 15, 28; Morier and Gorchakov 183–185 William I of Württemberg, marriage 133; about Metternich 173; interview at Ems 172, 173 William I, King of Prussia, German Emperor (1871), at spas 34, 96, 108, 117, 121, 124, 178, 182, 209, 210, 225, 228–230, 262; and Bismarck 213, 231, 241, 253; and Alexander II 70, 230, 257, 258; as head of the Hohenzollern family 227, 235–237; Lord Loftus’s characteristic of 179; attempts on 119, 178; at Ems 232–239; and Benedetti 240 William II, German Emperor 136; and Bismarck 263, 265; and Edward VII 131, 188, 189, 191; ‘Personal rule’ 262; at resorts 54, 55, 58, 126 wintering stations 15, 45, 60, 66, 106, 108, 135, 206, 277, 305; Menton and Nice 55–57, 92, 122, 123; Swiss wintering stations 90 Witte, Count Sergei Yulievich, about Alexander III 271; in 1914, 297, 303, 304; about European war 304 Wrangel, Baron Nikolai Egorovich, Vichy in 1914, 296; returning to Russia in August 1914, 300–301 Yalta, climate 308; exclusivity 308; public 57, 308, 309; the Romanovs 309–313