Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The Almack’s Patroness VI

Pavlovsk Palace
Trip to Russia

Dorothea’s deferred trip to Russia finally got underway in June 1825. She arrived in July and stayed at the Pavlovsk Palace where the dowager Empress held her court. Dorothea found it difficult to re-adapt to the more formal behaviour required in the Russian court. As Czar Alexander lived as a recluse at Tsarkskoe Selo with his wife, court life centred round Maria Feodorovna.

Czar Alexander I
During her visit Dorothea had a 1½ hour meeting with Alexander; she took advantage of the meeting to deliver a critique of 

Metternich and Austrian policy. She then had a meeting with Count Nesselrode. That both Alexander and Nesselrode knew of her affair with Metternich only made them take her opinions more seriously. Following the meeting Alexander commented to Dorothea’s brother;

‘Last time I saw your sister she was an attractive girl; now she is a stateswoman.’[i]

A second interview with Alexander towards the end of Dorothea’s stay saw Alexander ask her opinion of Canning, whom he described as a Jacobin. On 19th August, immediately prior to her departure, Dorothea saw Nesselrode again; he informed her that Alexander believed that following Metternich’s advice over Greece benefitted only Austria. The Czar wanted to use Dorothea to persuade the English to open overtures with Russia. Dorothea asked for and received a note for Christopher informing him of this drastic change in Russian policy.

Back Home

Royal Lodge, Windsor
Dorothea’s return journey to England took a month and she arrived back in September. The speed of the journey so exhausted her she had to rest for ten days in Brighton, seeing no-one but Canning and Wellington.

Dorothea wrote to Alexander about her problem child;

‘I am delighted to hear that my mother-in-law is interesting herself in Constantine’s future, and I shall be most anxious to hear what becomes of her care.’[ii]

In October the Lievens stayed with the King in the Cottage at Windsor. Encouraged by Dorothea, George invited Canning to dinner and Canning was able to amuse the King. Dorothea viewed Canning as her protégé and advised him on court etiquette and international affairs. Canning was surprised to be visited by the Lievens on 24th October. They gave Canning details of the disagreements between Russia and her allies over Greece.

Czar Nicholas I
Then disaster struck; Czar Alexander died on 1st December 1825 to be replaced by his brother Czar Nicholas, the youngest of Dorothea’s mother-in-law’s charges. Dorothea was devastated, well aware that the new Czar would not entrust her with the responsibilities Alexander had;

‘I cannot sleep I can only weep, I weep from the bottom of my heart, all is over. He [Alexander] gave me a new interest in life. I had great political influence over him ad I should soon have had more.’[iii]

Christopher was recalled to Russia in March. Dorothea was concerned that Nicholas might want to keep Christopher in Russia.

‘He likes my husband, and respects him, and he likes and respects scarcely anybody else in the world….my husband will resist all proposals. He has not a spark of ambition in his make-up.’[iv]

With Christopher absent in Russia, Dorothea played the part of Russian ambassador from the new Russian embassy at Ashburnham House.

Canning sent Wellington to St Petersburg with detailed instructions; he was tasked with dissuading the new Czar from going to war with the Turks over Greece. Being unwell only added to Wellington's disinclination to visit Russia. He went very unwillingly and arrived in March 1826.

Canning ordered Wellington to urge that the Lievens be kept on in London. On 4th April 1826 Wellington signed the Protocol of St Petersburg[v] before returning home. He arrived back to find Dorothea and Christopher had been reporting unfavourably upon his actions in St Petersburg.

Social Elevation

When Wellington’s sister-in-law[vi] returned from Vienna in the spring of 1826 she brought home unwelcome news for Dorothea. Metternich had taken to visiting one Mademoiselle Antoinette von Leykam, a 19 year old who was to become his second wife the following year. Dorothea was cutting in her correspondence with Metternich.

Bored with the grasping Lady Conyngham, it was now that the king suggested that Dorothea became his mistress, having summonsed her down to Brighton, claiming;

‘[He had] been in love with me for thirteen years.....never dared tell me; he hoped I should find it out for myself......[she] alone could guide him; our minds are alike; our views agree; my tastes will be his.’[vii]

In Russia Dorothea’s family were the willing recipients of the new Czar’s patronage. Alexander von Benckendorf became head of the Russian secret police and was one of Nicholas’ key advisers and Christopher became a Prince when his mother was awarded the rank of Princess for her services to the royal family. Alexander von Lieven was hoping to be appointed to the United States Mission that his father had been under consideration for.

Dorothea’s elevation brought a spat with Princess Esterhazy; the two had never cared for one another. Now the waning of Dorothea’s relationship with Metternich meant the wife of the Austrian ambassador could vent her dislike, her public put-down of Dorothea at a party at Wellington’s house was greeted with general approbation. Princess Esterhazy was good-natured and well liked while the witty and sharp Dorothea was not popular.

Rising Star

Dorothea wrote her last letter to Metternich on 12th December 1826. When she heard that he had married the beautiful Mademoiselle Leykam, a bitter Dorothea commented unpleasantly that it was a shame that;

‘[The] Chevalier of the Holy Alliance had ended by concluding a mésalliance.’[viii]

Mrs Arbuthnot
Dorothea was at a crossroads and, in a complete volte-face, she now decided to befriend the rising star. Her political courtship of Canning caused amusement among those like Harriet Arbuthnot[ix] who could not forget that Canning’s mother was an actress. Mrs Arbuthnot attributed Dorothea’s political change of heart to the break-up of her friendship with Metternich.

Dorothea was of course now following the political star of one who wanted to undo much of what Metternich had wrought. Her conversion was viewed with disapproval; Canning was viewed as a dangerous liberal who would bring down revolution upon Europe. Her support of Canning also led to a break with Wellington. But Dorothea supported Canning because his policies coincided with Russian interests.

Christopher was busy getting Canning to support a policy opposed by the majority of the British cabinet. Dorothea found support for Canning’s idea of a solution to the Greek question in Lord Grey, who might be persuaded to prop up a Canning government.

Prime Minister

Sir Robert Peel
Liverpool suffered a stroke in February 1827 and George appointed the detested Canning as Prime Minister. Refusing to serve under Canning’s leadership, Wellington resigned as Master of the Ordnance and Commander in Chief of the armed forces.

Sir Robert Peel and other senior Tories also refused to work with the detested but brilliant Canning who had to rely on the support of the Whigs to remain afloat. Dorothea lent Canning her support and even discussed and approved of the appointment of Lord Dudley as Foreign Secretary.

Mrs Arbuthnot noted Dorothea’s activities in the enemy camp with a growing dismay;

‘She has gained great influence over Mr. Canning and
Lord Dudley
Lord Dudley and she manages Lieven as she pleases……it is curious enough that the loves and intrigues of une femme galante should have such an influence over the affairs of Europe.’[x]

Mrs Arbuthnot was wrong; Dorothea was having problems with Christopher; she told her brother that her husband ignored the fact that she was suffering from palpitations of the heart. Dorothea wrote to Christopher accusing him of no longer loving her. Christopher was not one for emotional scenes and her letters probably caused him acute embarrassment. To add to Dorothea’s troubles news about Constantine failed to arrive despite continued requests in her letters to her brother.


Naval base Portsmouth
Canning’s own health was not good and he had to expend much of his energies to keep his disparate cabinet working together. He died in the July, three months into his new job[xi]; Dorothea was greatly distressed by Canning’s death and it made her ill. She was unable to accompany Christopher to meet the Russian fleet which called into Portsmouth en route to the Mediterranean. Never one to under dramatize a situation Dorothea informed her brother;

‘My husband has started for Portsmouth to see our fleet, and I, very ill, am left behind. I was dying to see Russia again, but the wish could only be gratified at the risk of killing myself.’[xii]

The Turks had been given one month to accept the mediation of the great powers in its quarrel with Greece. Failure to do so would result in the recognition of Greek independence.

Duke of Devonshire
Dorothea took herself off to Chatsworth for the Doncaster races. The party included the Cowpers and Mr and Mrs Agar Ellis. The race meeting itself brought more friends; Lord Grey, Lord Worcester and Lord Londonderry. Christopher joined the group and immediately the pair were quarrelling again, writing notes to one another on disputed trivialities. Dorothea played the sympathy card once again;

‘Decide whether you can sacrifice your puerile vanity for the reasons I have given you, otherwise I must ask you to arrange that I can live apart from you…..I have just had a haemorrhage…..I think that you want at all costs to humiliate me and to tease me.’[xiii]

These dramatics were over the question as to whether Christopher should wear a red ribbon the Duke of Devonshire had requested he wear. Dorothea had assured him his host was making fun of her husband. Christopher was prepared to humour the Duke’s ‘enfantillage’ and Dorothea was infuriated. The couple returned to London in October but the infighting continued.


The Princess and the Politicians – John Charmley, Penguin Books 2006
Wellington – Christopher Hibbert, Harper Collins 1997
Paris Between Empires – Philip Mansel, Phoenix Press Paperback 2003
The Life and Times of George IV – Alan Palmer, Book Club Associates 1972
Princess Lieven’s Letters – Lionel G Robinson (ed), Longmans, Green & Co 1902
The Russian Empire – Hugh Seton-Watson, Oxford University Press 1988
Metternich – Desmond Seward, Viking 1991
Arch Intriguer – Priscilla Zamoyska, Heinemann Ltd 1957

[i] Arch Intriguer - Zamoyska
[ii] Princess Lieven’s Letters - Robinson
[iii] Arch Intriguer - Zamoyska
[iv] Ibid
[v] Allowing for British and Russian mediation with the Turks on the Greek question.
[vi] Wellington’s brother Henry Baron Cowley was ambassador to Vienna
[vii] The Princess and the Politicians - Charmley
[viii] Ibid
[ix] A Tory party hostess
[x] Arch Intriguer - Zamoyska
[xi] He had never recovered from an illness picked up while attending the Duke of York’s funeral in January
[xii] Princess Lieven’s Letters - Robinson
[xiii] Arch Intriguer - Zamoyska

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

The Almack’s Patroness V

Dorothea Lieven
Back in England

Almost as soon as her feet touched English soil George summonsed Dorothea to Brighton. He was interested in the paternity of his godson and namesake George Lieven. The king had ascertained a likeness to himself in young George, who looked very much like his father and even more so his grandmother (still going strong at 72).

George had a very vivid imagination, and was prone to telling his courtiers of the battles he had fought in during the Napoleonic wars. Dorothea was well aware of this propensity and informed Metternich;

‘Up to the present he says it as a joke; in a few days he will be saying it menacingly; later he will let it be understood that he had good reason for saying it; and still later he will persuade himself that he really can take the credit.’[i]

George, when not caught up in flights of fancy, was no fool and he was not pleased by the breakup of the Quintuple Alliance. George was well aware of the need to keep an eye on Canning. Dorothea flattered George by telling him that his presence at Verona had been sorely missed.

Spanish Intrigues

Stratfield Saye
Dorothea used the occasion of a visit to Stratfield Saye[ii] to stir up trouble between Wellington and Canning, who had embarrassed Wellington in Verona. January at Stratfield Saye was so cold that Dorothea had problems holding a pen[iii]. Dorothea found Wellington rather a bore who was mostly happy to tell long rambling stories about himself.

To counter Dorothea’s claims that he was a Jacobin Wellington showed Dorothea his copies of the despatches he’d sent to London about the situation in Spain.

Prince Esterhazy
‘Damme, I’ll show you what I wrote about Spain; and you will see if Metternich ever said anything stronger.’[iv]

Dorothea persuaded him to show the papers to Christopher and Prince Esterhazy[v] as well. But whatever Wellington’s opinion of matters in Spain, the British public was firmly against intervention.

When French troops marched into their neighbour’s country London shop windows were full of cartoons depicting Spanish patriots killing the invaders. Canning, who had his finger on the pulse of public opinion, refused to allow the sending of British troops to join the French.

The Anti-Canningites

Although popular with the country at large as a result of his inflammatory speeches, Canning was not popular amongst his fellow politicians and his sovereign detested him. Canning believed that a Europe disunited would be good for Britain. Something the Whigs, Wellington and George did not agree with.

Duke of Wellington
Canning’s unpopularity in political circles and abroad continued unabated. European politicians were not impressed by Canning’s attempts to align Britain with every revolutionary movement going. Canning hoped to take over leadership of the Tory party from Lord Liverpool whenever that worthy resigned; this put him at odds with Wellington who considered the succession as his.

The Lievens gave a dinner party for Canning and the Austrian, French[vi] and Prussian ambassadors were also guests. Wellington, sat on Dorothea’s right, spent the dinner whispering rude things about Canning, sat on Dorothea’s left. To counter Wellington, Canning showed off and even Lady Granville, one of his friends, was unable to smooth matters over. Dorothea was feeling unwell and not up to assisting Lady Granville. Afterwards Christopher reproached Dorothea for not spending more time talking to Canning himself

A Loyal Ambassadress

Alexander von Benckendorff
Paul had been sent back to school in Russia, under Alexander von Benckendorff’s supervision. Her letters to Alexander imply that Paul was viewed as a bad influence on his brothers;

‘I am delighted to know that he is at school , and equally pleased to know that you are prepared to show some sternness in dealing with him…..He has always been extremely idle….he has always hindered his brothers’ progress that we thought it advisable to separate them, and it must be allowed that since his departure they have been going on famously.’[vii]

Dorothea had long outgrown her childish admiration for Christopher who was called ‘Vraiment’ in diplomatic circles, as this was the word he used most often. Christopher was perfectly capable and used his wife dexterously to forward Russian interests. Round about this time Dorothea started writing reports for Nesselrode, supplementing the reports Christopher sent.

Dorothea was well-placed to act as liaison between Russia and Britain; she was intimate with George IV and Lady Conygham and was good friends with Wellington. Dorothea also kept Metternich informed with letters sent via the Austrian Embassy. But, as she informed her lover;

‘Somebody came and told me the other day, that I made an extremely clever compromise between my duties and my personal views. I replied that I must do it far from cleverly if people imagined that my duties and my personal views were not identical.’[viii]

Desperate to keep Metternich’s attention focussed on herself Dorothea kept dropping hints in her letters about a new admirer, Charles Lord Grey. It is possible that Dorothea began an affair with Grey around this time to make Metternich jealous.

Self-Imposed Exile

Dorothea suffered a setback in her health in May 1823 and she wondered whether she was going into a decline. In the summer Dorothea committed an indiscretion; giving out that she was travelling for her health which could not support another British winter, Dorothea arranged to meet Metternich in Milan.

Despite their imminent meeting Dorothea begged Metternich to continue writing to her with news of what was going on in the world;

‘My husband is the soul of prudence.....it is the same with the letters the Duke of Wellington will write me. So, without you, I run the risk of relapsing conventional feminine role; and it seems to me that it would be a pity.’[ix]

Dorothea got her kicks from being a powerful go-between and was naturally reluctant to relinquish the importance placed on her by Nesselrode and the Czar as a result of her liaison with a key player in Europe.

When she arrived in Milan Dorothea was disappointed to learn that she would have little time with him, despite his promises. Dorothea spent the winter in Florence, Rome where she met Lord Kinnaird[x], while Metternich travelled around Europe desperate to keep up support for the Greek insurrection. He did not reply to Dorothea’s letters or provocations.

Dorothea took four year old George with her to Italy and, as ever when she was apart from him, Dorothea missed her husband as did George.

‘At our age and with our experience, domestic happiness is the most important thing, one cannot replace the confidence and habits of a marriage….Mon bon ami, we are both suffering now because of our need for each other, which will still bring us great happiness.’[xi]

Christopher von Lieven
When Dorothea told Metternich that Christopher wanted her to come home he did not respond to this provocation either. Dorothea was caught by the lies she had told at home in order to travel abroad. Dorothea did not return home until May 1824, her passion for Metternich all but spent. She was met at Dover by Christopher and they travelled back to London.

Another Pregnancy

Dorothea now contemplated returning home to Russia to see old friends. The British government offered her the King’s yacht to take her to St Petersburg. She planned to meet Metternich in June en route.

Dorothea reached Dover when the journey halted, not to be resumed. Christopher was the one who stopped Dorothea’s travelling when Dorothea realised that she might be pregnant again. At the age of nearly forty this was to be her sixth child and the journey home to Russia was long and precipitous at the best of times.

Lady Conygnham
Dorothea was the link between George, Wellington and Metternich. Spending a lot of time at with George, Dorothea found herself subject to George’s amorous attentions much to the irritation of Lady Conyngham. Dorothea’s pregnancy was giving her the more voluptuous figure that George preferred.

In July Wellington gave a grand dinner for the King; the hated Canning and the Lievens were also invited. Dorothea flirted with and embarrassed Canning. Dorothea asked him to dine and he in turned picked her brains for information about the Parisian scene. They talked together at a reception hosted by Lady Hertford.

In the autumn Dorothea commenced a correspondence with Lord Grey. In later years she claimed that their relationship;

‘Remained natural to our situations, he very English and I very Russian; but we allowed ourselves a rare degree of confidence, which I never betrayed.’[xii]

In her correspondence Dorothea reported conversations verbatim, useful for any politician, and witty social and political gossip along with details of political events.

Dorothea and Christopher’s fifth son was born in late February 1825 and named Arthur after Dorothea’s friend Wellington who was his Godfather. The confinement had been difficult and for some time afterwards Dorothea was confined to bed or a sofa. She wrote to her brother;

‘I have another boy, much to our mutual regret…..he is remarkably pretty…..The news Paul tells me of himself gives me great pleasure….he is delighted with his start in life[xiii], and speaks in high praise of the Foreign Office.’[xiv]

When Metternich’s wife Eleanore died in Paris in March 1825 and Dorothea wrote to console her friend.


The Princess and the Politicians – John Charmley, Penguin Books 2006
Captain Gronow – Christopher Hibbert (ed), Kyle Cathie Ltd 1991
Wellington – Christopher Hibbert, Harper Collins 1997
Paris Between Empires – Philip Mansel, Phoenix Press Paperback 2003
The Life and Times of George IV – Alan Palmer, Book Club Associates 1972
Princess Lieven’s Letters – Lionel G Robinson (ed), Longmans, Green & Co 1902
The Russian Empire – Hugh Seton-Watson, Oxford University Press 1988
Metternich – Desmond Seward, Viking 1991
Arch Intriguer – Priscilla Zamoyska, Heinemann Ltd 1957

[i] The Princess and the Politicians - Charmley
[ii] Wellington’s country home, bought by a grateful nation in 1817 for £263,000; in 2014 the relative: historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £17,200,000.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £323,900,000.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £1,029,000,000.00 www.measuringworth.com
[iii] The Duchess of Wellington was not a capable lady of the house and the rooms at Stratfield Saye were insufficiently heated
[iv] Arch Intriguer - Zamoyska
[v] Austrian ambassador to Great Britain
[vii] Princess Lieven’s Letters – Robinson
[viii] Arch Intriguer - Zamoyska
[ix] The Princess and the Politicians - Charmley
[x] A friend of Byron’s
[xi] Arch Intriguer - Zamoyska
[xii] Ibid
[xiii] Nesselrode had given him a job
[xiv] Princess Lieven’s Letters – Robinson

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

The Almack’s Patroness IV

Countess Dorothea Lieven

Dorothea’s correspondence with Metternich provided him with a much needed insight into Russian and English political life. For the English 1820 was the year of the royal divorce; George III died in January and the Prince Regent finally became king. George IV was determined to get rid of his hated wife and Princess Caroline was determined to be acknowledged queen. The couple had lived separately since 1796 and Caroline had left England in 1814.

George’s plans for a divorce were scuppered when his advisers informed him that not only Caroline’s affairs but his own would become a matter of public knowledge.

‘The whole business has become such a party question, that there are no ties of family and friendship that still hold good.’[i]

George IV
Support for the divorce bill going through parliament slipped away, while the king worried about his upcoming coronation, Caroline had intimated her intention to attend.

Despite spending over a quarter of a million pounds[ii] on the ceremony and accompanying festivities, the attention was all outside the abbey where Caroline was refused admittance[iii], much to the delight of the spectators. During the five hour ceremony George was unable to keep his eyes off his latest mistress Lady Conyngham. According to spectators the king was;

‘Nodding and winking......and sighing and making eyes’[iv]

at his lover. Dorothea kept Metternich fully informed of the convolutions caused by the divorce attempt. The Duke of York attempted to play on his brother’s unpopularity with the masses and the result of his antics was a further lessening of the unflattering view held of the monarchy. George IV was not viewed with the love and respect that the British had given George III in his old age.

A Trip to Europe

Princess of Orange
Christopher was called back to St Petersburg to discuss Greece where the Czar’s co-religionists had rebelled against their Muslim masters, the Ottoman Turks. Dorothea travelled to Brussels with the 18 month old George. The Lievens travelled together to Rochester where Christopher left his wife and son.

‘I am quite miserable at our separation, I imagine storms and every possible contrary wind…..Baby is delicious, every time he sees me crying he comes and kisses me and says, “Papa, gone, gone.”’[v]

Dorothea travelled on to Dover and she and George crossed the channel in 2½ hours. In Brussels Dorothea was the guest of the Princess of Orange[vi]. From Brussels Dorothea travelled to Spa which she found very boring despite the attentions of Prince Louis de Rohan who’d travelled thence from Paris just to be with Dorothea. Dorothea’s main interest was in her post from England which she would forward to Christopher and sent tit-bits to Metternich. Wellington wrote to her detailing the trials and tribulations over the divorce and coronation.

Schloss Johannisberg
By July Dorothea was in Schlagenbad, a small watering place near Weisbaden. Schlagenbad was conveniently near Metternich’s country castle at Johannisberg. Dorothea had hoped to meet Metternich but he was too busy trying to sort out the Greek problem to take leave of absence. Dorothea visited in his absence and gloried in the view.

From Schlagenbad Dorothea moved to Frankfurt and it was here, in September, that a summons from George IV reached her. Her presence was required in Hanover where Christopher was expected en route from St Petersburg. Christopher did not arrive until the eve of George’s departure and Dorothea was able to spend her time in Hanover with Metternich who was also meeting with George.

Political Problems

Lady Castlereagh (National Portrait Gallery)
British politicians were becoming aware that to pass information on to Metternich they only needed to inform Dorothea. In turn Dorothea made use of the affection Lord Castlereagh had for her, to forward her letters to Metternich. Castlereagh liked talking to Dorothea and he insisted on waltzing with her. Castlereagh used to ride along Dorothea’s favourite walks in the hopes of meeting up with her.

Dorothea offered to act as an intermediary between Lady Conyngham who had conceived a violent dislike for Lady Castlereagh[vii], niece of George’s former lover Lady Hertford. Lady Conyngham refused to attend a banquet in honour of the Crown Prince of Denmark as Lady Castlereagh was also invited.

Despite despising the favourite for her grasping behaviour, Dorothea managed to persuade Lady Conyngham, much disliked by the court, that the Foreign Secretary and his wife were obliged to attend the banquet. Her work was made more difficult by Lady Castlereagh’s refusal to bend with the wind and curry favour with the favourite.

Castlereagh flew into a rage when Dorothea informed him of Lady Conyngham’s presumption;

‘Things cannot go on like this. We cannot put up with a Lady Conyngham who is powerful enough to offer us such affronts.’[viii]

He threatened to resign if matters deteriorated, despite Dorothea reminding him that such as Lady Conyngham had to be put up with. Castlereagh’s wild appearance and confused talk worried Dorothea. He was infuriated and humiliated that his wife’s presence at the banquet was solely due to the intervention of a foreign ambassadress.

Death of a Foreign Secretary

Lord Castlereagh
Castlereagh’s half-brother, Sir Charles Stewart, claimed that Castlereagh was suffering from overwork. Castlereagh felt he was not being supported by his colleagues and that the weight of government was borne on his shoulders. Castlereagh was a broken man fearing that his colleagues were conspiring to replace him with Wellington.

On 9th Castlereagh had an audience with the king and then met with several ambassadors including Christopher. He acted oddly during the meeting but Christopher was inured to the Foreign Secretary’s eccentricities and took no notice.

On 12th August Castlereagh committed suicide; he cut the artery in his neck with a penknife while his wife was in her dressing room. Dorothea was shocked by the loss of someone she counted as a friend. She wrote to Metternich;

‘I cannot get over it. I see him in front of me all the time; that noble face, so serene and handsome.’[ix]

George Canning
Castlereagh’s successor George Canning was no friend to Russia. His detractors were legion; the king disliked him[x], the Opposition hated him and even his own side distrusted him. Canning had ambition writ large upon him[xi]. Canning described the letter from the king offering the Foreign Office post as;

‘Exactly the same as being given a ticket for Almack’s and finding written on the back: “Admit the Rogue.”’[xii]

Dorothea had hoped the Foreign Secretary post would go to Wellington, who she counted as a personal friend. Indeed when Dorothea played waltzes on the pianoforte the unmusical Wellington had been known to accompany her on the triangle. Wellington also sufficiently unbent to act in country-house charades with Dorothea. He’d assured Dorothea that Britain’s policy towards Russia would not change as change would result in plunging Europe into chaos.

Congress of Verona

Marie Louise (1812)
In October 1820 the Lievens, Wellington[xiii] and the Metternichs all converged at the Congress of Verona, where Marie Louise Duchess of Palma[xiv] was among those who haunted Dorothea’s salon. Card tables and the hostess were the main attraction in the evenings. Mornings were reserved for Metternich, Nesselrode and Wellington.

‘The Princess de Lieven is my only refuge in society here. I pass every evening at her house, and most of the congress members follow my example’[xv]

Metternich wrote to his wife. The Czar and the Emperor of Austria also attended the congress.

The doyen of the Paris salons during the First Republic, Juliette Récamier was in Verona, as the mistress of the French representative the Vicomte de Chateaubriand.
Juliette Recamier
Chateaubriand was recently returned from America and full of stories of the animals he had seen there. He and Dorothea disliked one another. Dorothea characterised Chateaubriand as a bore while he, in turn, called her the ‘dowager’ of Verona and wrote spitefully of her in his memoirs

The congress had been convoked to deal with problems in Spain, Italy and the Ottoman Empire. Alexander and the French were ready to march into Spain where the king had called for help against the liberals, a project viewed with distate by Canning. On 30th October Wellington had to inform Metternich that Britain was not prepared to intervene in foreign affairs. Wellington was convinced that;

‘There is nothing so improper as for one government to interfere in the internal affairs of another.’[xvii]

He left the congress the day before it wound up and was back in London by Christmas.

Dorothea suffered a setback in her personal affairs; while in Verona she took advantage of her access to Nesselrode to press for the Lievens transfer to Vienna so she could be close to Metternich. Dorothea also urged her brother Alexander to ask the Czar to favour the move. But Nesselrode and Czar Alexander were worried about Dorothea’s trustworthiness and the move did not take place.


The Princess and the Politicians – John Charmley, Penguin Books 2006

Captain Gronow – Christopher Hibbert (ed), Kyle Cathie Ltd 1991

Wellington – Christopher Hibbert, Harper Collins 1997

Paris Between Empires – Philip Mansel, Phoenix Press Paperback 2003

The Life and Times of George IV – Alan Palmer, Book Club Associates 1972

The Russian Empire – Hugh Seton-Watson, Oxford University Press 1988

Metternich – Desmond Seward, Viking 1991

Arch Intriguer – Priscilla Zamoyska, Heinemann Ltd 1957


[i] Arch Intriguer - Zamoyska
[ii] In 2014 the relative: historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £17,850,000.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £332,200,000.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £1,009,000,000.00 www.measuringworth.com
[iii] She had not been given a ticket; George was frightened that Caroline would create a scene on his big day and demand to be crowned with him
[iv] George IV - Palmer
[v] Arch Intriguer - Zamoyska
[vi] Sister of the Czar
[vii] The feeling was mutual
[viii] The Princess and the Politicians - Charmley
[ix] Arch Intriguer - Zamoyska
[x] Canning had been Caroline’s ‘intimate adviser’
[xi] Ambition was distrusted by the landed politicians and Canning’s ambition was attributed by those who wished him ill to the fact that his mother had been an actress for a while
[xii] The Princess and the Politicians - Charmley
[xiii] In place of Castlereagh
[xiv] Napoleon’s widow
[xv] Arch Intriguer - Zamoyska
[xvii] Wellington - Hibbert