At first I thought the prince might be making a fool of me; but I quickly put aside the idea, and stepped forward and was about to kneel, but his majesty gave me his hand to kiss with exquisite grace, and as he was about to address me, Prince Adam shewed him the letter of the English ambassador, who was well known to the king. The king read it, still standing, and began to ask me questions about the Czarina and the Court, appearing to take great interest in my replies.
When supper was announced the king continued to talk, and led me into the supper-room, and made me sit down at his right hand. Everybody ate heartily except the king, who appeared to have no appetite, and myself, who had no right to have any appetite, even if I had not dined well with Prince Sulkouski, for I saw the whole table hushed to listen to my replies to the king's questions.
After supper the king began to comment very graciously on my answers. His majesty spoke simply but with great elegance. As he was leaving he told me he should always be delighted to see me at his Court, and Prince Adam said that if I liked to be introduced to his father, I had only to call at eleven o'clock the next morning.
The King of Poland was of a medium height, but well made. His face was not a handsome one, but it was kindly and intelligent. He was rather short-sighted, and his features in repose bore a somewhat melancholy expression; but in speaking, the whole face seemed to light up. All he said was seasoned by a pleasant wit.
I was well enough pleased with this interview, and returned to my inn, where I found Campioni seated amongst several guests of either sex, and after staying with them for half an hour I went to bed.
At eleven o'clock the next day I was presented to the great Russian Paladin. He was in his dressing-gown, surrounded by his gentlemen in the national costume. He was standing up and conversing with his followers in a kindly but grave manner. As soon as his son Adam mentioned my name, he unbent and gave me a most kindly yet dignified welcome. His manners were not awful, nor did they inspire one with familiarity, and I thought him likely to be a good judge of character. When I told him that I had only gone to Russia to amuse myself and see good company, he immediately concluded that my aims in coming to Poland were of the same kind; and he told me that he could introduce me to a large circle. He added that he should be glad to see me to dinner and supper whenever I had no other engagements.
He went behind a screen to complete his toilette, and soon appeared in the uniform of his regiment, with a fair peruke in the style of the late King Augustus II. He made a collective bow to everyone, and went to see his wife, who was recovering from a disease which would have proved fatal if it had not been for the skill of Reimann, a pupil of the great Boerhaave. The lady came of the now extinct family of Enoff, whose immense wealth she brought to her husband. When he married her he abandoned the Maltese Order, of which he had been a knight. He won his bride by a duel with pistols on horseback. The lady had promised that her hand should be the conqueror's guerdon, and the prince was so fortunate as to kill his rival. Of this marriage there issued Prince Adam and a daughter, now a widow, and known under the name of Lubomirska, but formerly under that of Strasnikowa, that being the title of the office her husband held in the royal army.
It was this prince palatine and his brother, the High Chancellor of Lithuania, who first brought about the Polish troubles. The two brothers were discontented with their position at the Court where Count Bruhl was supreme, and put themselves at the head of the plot for dethroning the king, and for placing on the throne, under Russian protection, their young nephew, who had originally gone to St. Petersburg as an attache at the embassy, and afterwards succeeded in winning the favour of Catherine, then Grand Duchess, but soon to become empress.
This young man was Stanislas Poniatowski, son of Constance Czartoryski and the celebrated Poniatowski, the friend of Charles III.