Commonplace Book – Pages 151-153
- November 1, 1753: 3:00 pm: The Palace catches fire. No one seems to have been hurt as everyone was evacuated and soldiers had immediately fired a musket to alarm everyone. The Empress goes to Pokrovskoe and Catherine goes to Choglokov’s.
- Mme Choglokov’s house: “Wind blew in on all sides”; “windows and doors were half rotten”; “the floor had cracks and gaps three or four fingers wide”; “it was filled with vermin”
- The Fire: The stokers came in to light the stoves in the main hall and it was filled with smoke. They put water on it, but the smoke only increased. Catherine’s books were saved, the Empress lost 4,000 dresses, the Grand Duke’s secret wine cupboard was saved; most of the furniture was saved.
- Catherine stays at Choglokov’s for 6 weeks then moves to the Bishop’s House. It had very old stoves and a fire started “two or three times…but each time were put out.” She gets a sore throat and high fever while she’s there.
- The Empress joins them at the Bishop’s House for the new year.
- Princess Gagarine obtains permission to marry Dmitri Matushkin.
- February, 1754: Catherine shows signs of pregnancy.
- Easter Day: M. Choglokov suffers from colic and gets worse.
- April 21: Choglokov is declared beyond recovery and taken to his house.
- April 25: M. Choglokov dies. At the moment of his death, a bird flew in and perched itself near Mme Choglokov. It left and she claimed it was her husband’s soul. No one could find the bird again.
- Alexander Shuvalov, Head of the State Inquiry Tribunal (the Secret Chancery) resumes Choglokov’s duties with the Grand Duke.
- May 10, 11: They leave Moscow for St. Petersburg.
- September 20: Catherine gives birth to a son. The Empress takes the child away, it is named Paul and Catherine is very neglected.
- A “magic charm” had been found near the Empress’ mattress. Suspicion falls on Anna Dumacheva and she is exiled to Moscow.
- On the sixth day her son is baptized, meanwhile “he had almost died from an ulceration in the mouth.”
- On the seventeenth day, Serge Saltikov is appointed to take the news of the newborn to Sweden. Princess Gagarine’s wedding is fixed for the coming week.
- November 1, 1754: Catherine’s six weeks of confinement ends. She reads “Histoire de l’Allemagne” and “Histoire Universelle” by Voltaire. Also 2 volumes of Baronivs, Montesquieu’s “Esprit des Lois” and “Annals” by Tacitus.
- December 26: Catherine gets a fever and stays through the New Year, 1755.
- Serge Saltikov returns from Sweden, but it is intended that he should go as Russian minister to Hamburg in place of Prince Alexander Galitzine. He then goes to a Freemason lodge with Count Roman Worontsov.
- February 10: Catherine appears in public and shows hostilities to the Shuvalovs.
- M. Brockdorff appears in Russia. “He held the office of Chamberlain to the Grand Duke in his capacity as Duke of Holstein.”
- After Easter, the Court goes to Oranienbaum. The gardener for Oranienbaum, Lambert, makes a prediction to Catherine, fixing a date when she would come to the throne.
Commonplace Book – Pages: 146-147
- Count Brummer and Chamberlain Bergholz are removed from the Grand Duke’s entourage, and General Prince Basile Repnine is appointed his escort.
- The Empress rages severely at Catherine. Her and the Grand Duke have been married about a year and still no pregnancy. Catherine has been upset for quite sometime and attempts suicide. A maid catches her and talks her out of it.
- The Grand Duke, after Catherine arrives in Moscow, obtains three valets-de-chambre, all three sons of grenadiers in the Empress’ bodyguard. One of them is named Andre Chernishev. Both the Grand Duke and Catherine become fond of him. The others think Andre and Catherine are in love.
- As Catherine is confronting Andre about this, Count Devier, (then Chamberlain to the Empress) summons her to the Grand Duke. The next day the three Chernishevs are sent to Orenburg and Mme Choglokov is appointed as Catherine’s lady-in-waiting.
- Court: “there was no coversation…and everybody cordially hated everybody else…science and art were never touched on…half the Court could hardly read…surprising if more than a third could write.”
- The Grand Duke takes a fancy to Mme Cedersparre.
- The Empress wants to go to Riga, but at the last minute changes her mind and returns to St. Petersburg. Two years, after Catherine’s accession, she finds an old chest and in it a long German paper, “written by a fanatic, a mad Lutheran, who begged the Empress in the name of God…to not go to Riga, where some people were waiting to kill her.”
- August: Simon Theodorski, Bishop of Pskov, questions her and the Duke about Andre Chernishev and tells the Empress it was all innocent.
- A ball is held in Oranienbaum and the Empress is in Tsarskoe-Selo.
- She reads the Letters of Mme de Sevigne and also becomes fond of Voltaire.
- She then suffers from continuous headaches and insomnia. Dr. Boerhave examines her skull and says that “though I was 17, my head was that of a child of six and that I should…not expose it to the cold…the [bones] would grow together when I was 25 or 26.”
- In winter, the Empress orders everyone to follow her on a pilgrimage to Tikhvin. Count Rasumovski has an attack of gout. Andre Chernishev and his brothers, at this time, are also under arrest at Ribachala Sloboda.
- Mme Choglokov’s husband: “thoroughly evil-minded”; arrogant; brutal; stupid; conceited; malicious; pompous; secretive; silent; “object of terror”; “with never a smile on his lips”
- The Prince Bishop of Lubeck is appointed bailiff, to administer the Grand Duke’s estates in Germany
- Lent, 1747: They go with the Empress to Gostilitsa. A few days later, Catherine learns that her father is dead. Count Santi tells the Empress that she had asked him “why Ambassadors had not offered me their condolences,” when she did not and the Master of Ceremonies is reprimanded accordingly.
- Court Chamberlain, Count Devier is made brigadier in the Army and dismissed. Vilbois, a gentleman-in-waiting is made colonel and is also dismissed.
- Winter: Prince Alexander Galitzine, Catherine’s Chamberlain, and Princess Daria Gagarine, her lady-in-waiting, are married.
- January 6: Catherine wakes with a sore throat and a fever. By the end of the day, it’s determined she has the measles.
- Lent: “another four men were removed from [the Grand Duke's] entourage, among them the three pages whom he liked best.”
Commonplace Book – Pages: 138-139
The generous French, as fierce as they’re polite,
Who to true glory constantly aspire;
Whilst obstinately they against thee fight,
Thy virtue and great qualities admire.
The French and Germans leagues by wondrous ties,
Make Christendom one dismal scene of woe;
And from their friendship greater ills
Than e’er did from their longest quarrels flow.
Thus from the equator and the frozen pole,
The impetuous winds drive on with headlong force
Two clouds, which as they on each other roll,
Forth from their sable skirts the thunder force.
Oh! Fleury, wise and venerable sage,
Whom good ne’er dazzles, danger ne’er alarms;
Who dost exceed the ancient Nestor’s age:
Must Europe never cease to be in arms?
Would France’s treasure were dispersed no more,
But prudently within the realm applied;
Opulence to our cities to restore,
And make them flourishing on every side.
Your arts from heaven, and from the muses sprung,
When Louis brought triumphant into France;
Too long your hands are idle, lyrics unstrung,
‘Tis time to start from so profound a trance.
Your labors are of lasting glory sure,
Whilst warlike pomps, the triumph of a day,
Blaze for a moment, never long endure,
But soon like fleeting shadows pass away.
Commonplace Book – Pages 112-113
- “I was born on the 28th of August, 1744 at Vaucouleurs.”
- “The Vaubernier family, to which my father belonged…”
- “My father, having no fortune…[was] a clerk at the Barrieres.”
- “Madame Dubreuil…proffered her services as my godmother.”
- “M. Billard du Monceau, a financier…had then for a godfather.”
- “I was baptized by the name of Marie-Jeanne…”
-”At the time I was fifteen…my godmother was dead. As to my godfather, he seemed to have forgotten [me]. [Then]…my father died.”
- “On the one side, my uncle Ange Gomart…in the convent of Picpus, and on the other M. Billard du Monceau…”
- “We went to live in the environs of the Place Royale…”
- “She stays with Monceau, and her mother is placed with Madame de Renage, widow of a farmer-general.”
- “I was placed in a boarding school in the Rue des Lions Saint-Paul”
- 15 yrs old: sent to convent of Saint-Aure for further education.
- 16 yrs old: “I was apprenticed to Madame Labille, milliner in the Rue Saint Honore, near the Oratoire and the Barriere des Sergents” – “I now commenced under the name of Mademoiselle Lancon…”
- She first fell in love with Genevieve Mathon’s (friend from boarding school) brother, Nicolas. Then the mousquetaire Comte d’Aubuisson
- 18 yrs old: Moved to live with Madame de Lagarde
- “Madame de Lagarde had two sons – the elder a farmer-general, his brother, a ‘maitre des requetes’, called M. Dudley.”
- “Celebrated characters who frequented the house of Madame de Lagarde:”
M. de Marmontel: “never pleased me; always pedantic; always air of dignity”
M. de Grimm: “cunning fox, witty; German; very ugly; very thin; philosopher; large eyes; white paint on his face; tanned; wrinkled; nicknamed Tyran-le-Blanc”
Diderot: he lays out for effect; calculation in his enthusiasm; “art in his simplicity”; “he was an excellent man, provided his self-love was not irritated, but unfortunately was wounded on the slightest occasion”
D’Alembert: Cannot stand Diderot, “with them the vanity of the author put to flight all philosophical modesty”; “exercised malice whist he sported”; had agreeable little ways
Voltaire: mighty genius; Barri is a great enthusiast of him; glory; reputation; nothing bad to say about him
‘Twas brillig and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogroves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxnome foe he sought-
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffing through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?”
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjou day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.
‘Twas brillig and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
Lines 415-419 of What Pleases the Ladies by Voltaire
O happy times of faerie deed,
Of elves and sprites and stories tall,
And kindly spirits tending mortal need.
People heard these marvellous tales and believed,
Seated round the hearth in every castle hall:
The chaplain was the teller, and father, mother,
Friend and daughter, neighbor, brother,
Listened rapt: for how could interest pall?
No matter what the fable, it held them in its thrall.
And now they’re banished spirits, fairies too,
Reason rules, a story must be true.
But the heart grows dull in a world of grey,
Where sense and logic may not brook demure,
And correctness is the order of the day.
Believe me when I say: it can be right to err.