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majesty to grant me permission to reside four months in his dominions. My letter had scarcely been sent, when I received a letter from baron de Krudener, which, for several reasons, I think it necessary to insert here.
“ It gives me great satisfaction, sir, to inform you of his majesty's favourable answer relative to your passport. "I am directed to make out the same, and to insert therein the exact route you intend to take, in order to remove all obstacles to which, without such precaution, you might be liable. You will therefore, sir, have the goodness to inform me immediately of the above particulars, and the number of persons who are to accompany you, and likewise to let me know whether I am to send the passport, in case you do not take Berlin in your way.-I am, &c."
This letter afforded great pleasure to my wife, while, on the contrary, it created suspicions in me. I had left Russia with the emperor's consent, and before the publication of the order which required all persons leaving the country to engage never to return : but I knew that Paul was no friend to authors, and it was difficult to reconcile this well-known antipathy with an answer so prompt, and apparently so full of kind
I could not conceive what obstacles I had to encounter when provided with a regular passport; and if such obstacles were common to all travellers, it was singular that an exception should be made in my behalf. What right had I to such distinction? Nor could I at all conceive what interest the emperor could feel in being so well informed of my route.
I imparted all my doubts to my wife, but she only laughed at them. Having accepted an invitation from a lady distinguished both by her rank and virtues, at whose house much company usually resorted, we spoke of the contents of this letter, agreeably to the different manner in which they had affected us, and every one present not only discountenanced my apprehensions, but pronounced them to be unreason
able and ill-founded. To believe the emperor capable of laying a snare for me, was considered by them as an offence against the sacred faith of sovereigns.
I became more easy: and if anything still continued to create anxiety, it was the circumstance of the term of four months being omitted in the body of the passport which I afterwards received. This omission was distressing, as it might tend to prevent my return; and I therefore had recourse to the following expedient: I had the honour to be dramatic writer to the emperor of Germany, and in that quality I procured a written leave of absence from the court of Vienna for the above mentioned space of time ; and I reserved this instrument to shew to the Austrian minister at St Petersburgh, in case my return should be at all impeded.
Having thus provided for my departure, my wife and myself, accompanied by three young children, left Weimar on the 10th of April 1800. We arrived at Berlin, where I found several letters which my friends in Livonia and Petersburgh had written to me at the same time. They appeared to have acted in concert, in advising me to consider how far I was able to encounter the severe cold of a northern climate. This concealed manner of warning me had not the effect they had reason to expect: I did not follow their advice, but considered their apprehensions as exaggerated or chimerical.
I waited on baron de Krudener. I was already known to that estimable man, who is a friend to letiers and humanity. He received me with his accustomed kindness; and I requested him, on taking my leave, to consider me as the father of a numerous family, and tell me in the sincerity of his heart, if he thought my return would be attended with any difficulties. My suspicions were confined entirely to that particular, and I must confess that M. de Krudener replied like a man who knew how to unite the rigorous obligations of duty with those of humanity. "Iņ your place,” said he, " I would write once more; you may however proceed on your journey, but wait at Konigsberg till your
doubts are removed." The advice was good, and I was inclined to follow it; but my wife, whom I consulted on the occasion, and who had solely her children and her country before her eyes, did not value it as it deserved. We both indeed treated the matter too lightly; and being furnished with a passport in the name and by the emperor of all the Russias, we ventured to proceed.
Every one who has travelled through the Prussian dominions knows that the post-horses there are very sluggish.* I frequently got out of my carriage and walked, and without any exertion was often a German mile before it. In this manner I one day arrived at a little town in Pomerania, which I think is called Zanert; I walked through it, and when I came to its extremity found several roads, without knowing which to take. An old man who was near, set me right; he was a tall thin figure, and probably belonged to the gate. He asked me whither I was going; and when I told him I was on my way to Russia, his voice altered. He advised me not to think of going thither, made use of the strongest reasons in support of his advice, and betrayed a solicitude so tender and paternal, that he seemed like an angel sent to counsel me. At last, finding that his advice was unavailing, he concluded with this short exclamation : “ God help the man who goes into Russia !" I laughed exceedingly, and continued my way: but how often have these emphatic words since struck me! How often have I been tempted to think that this man was a prophet who had foretold my destiny!
These repeated admonitions had, in spite of my reason, made some impression on me, and I felt it still
* Some new regulations have taken place, to the advantage of the traveller. Of this I am unable to speak from my own experience, having now left off travelling post in Prussia and Pomerania.
increase as I approached the confines of Russia. Such was the effect they had on me, that frequently on the road, and particularly at Memel, I seriously proposed to my wife that she should continue the journey by herself, and I would return to that city and wait for her; but my fate was decreed-she could not resolve upon this measure
When we left Memel I took the precaution to leave my books there, in order to avoid disputes with M. Tummanski of Riga, a man too well-known for the ridiculous severity of his inquisitions.
The following pages were written in Siberia, after my arrival at the place of my destination, at a time when the remembrance of my sufferings was still fresh and keen. I shall be obliged to rectify several passages, having since my return been furnished with farther information relative to many objects, and to several personages, not always to their advantage. I reserve however the rectification, for the sequel of this narrative. Not a word of what I wrote on the spot shall be suppressed; the reader will thus see, without disguise, what then were my sensations, my thoughts, and my hopes.
We came in sight of the frontiers; we passed the line, and were now on the territory of Russia. We could however have returned. No soldier stopped us; no river, no bridge, not the slightest barrier sepa. rated us from the Prussian dominions. Silent and with a heavy heart, I cast my eyes to the left: all the admonitions I had received, now assailed me; I could scarcely breathe.
My wife too had her alarms, which she has since owned. She looked at me without saying a word. Still we had time to retreat, but the wheel of fortune was turned, and we were about to undergo our destiny.
“ Halt !” eried a Cossack, armed with a long pike.
We were at the foot of a bridge that led over a small brook, the guard-house lay on our left; the officer made his appearance. “Your passport, sir !"-" Here it is.”—The officer opened it and examined the signa. ture. “What name is this?”. Krudener.”_“You are come from Berlin ?"_“Yes.”—“Very well, pray go on, sir." He made a sign, the barrier opened, the carriage rolled with a heavy sound over the bridge, the barrier shut behind us, and I heaved a deep sigh.
* Here we are,” said I to my wife, affecting to be gay. Heaven knows, however, that all my uneasiness was confined to the single point of my return; far was I from thinking that my personal safety was at all in danger.
We arrived in a few minutes at Polangen, a small town where the custom-house is established. At the head of this department was M. Sellin, a polite and humane man, formerly a lieutenant-colonel of a regiment quartered at Narva. He had resided at no great distance from my wife's patrimonial estate. When I last left Russia we had embraced on this same spot, and my wife and I were happy to find we were on the point of meeting him here ngain.
I alighted from my carriage, and Sellin appeared on the flight of steps before his door. I approached and embraced him, but he returned my salute with an air of gravity. I asked him if he did not recollect me: he made no reply, and strove afterwards to appear cordial. '- My wife now alighted, and the evident embarrassment of Sellin made her shudder. He received her however with politeness, and handed her into the house. Weyrauch, the comedian, who had accom, panied us from Memel, was likewise admitted without difficulty:
My wife assumed the easy gaiety of behaviour which takes place between old acquaintances: Sellin answered in an awkward manner, and at length, turning towards me, said, "Where is your passport?”