[p. 24] You must have heard of the intended rebellion in Russia during the reign of the great Czarina Elizabeth.1 It is indeed generally known that such a revolution was planned and nearly taking place. But the means by which it was discovered and prevented, are known but to a very few. I will therefore relate them to you in the same circumstantial manner Lord Tyrawley repeated them to Mr. Quin and myself that evening.
From his Lordship's residing so many years at the courts of Spain and Portugal, he had acquired a strong attachment to the natives of both those kingdoms. And as he was happy in every opportunity that offered for shewing his regard for them, they entertained the highest respect for his Lordship. During my Lord's residence at the court of Russia, he observed a Spaniard to walk frequently, for several days together, before the court-yard of his hotel. Excited by the national attachment just mentioned, his Lordship ordered one of his domestics to invite the [p. 25] Don to dine at the second table. The Spaniard accepted the invitation with the geatest readiness, and seemed glad to have an opportunity of laying by his long spado for some hours every day. This continued for several months, so that the stranger was at length considered as one of the family.
At the expiration of that time, he came late one evening, and requested the domestic in waiting to inform his Excellency, that he wished to have the honour to speak to him. The servant supposing his business was not of a nature to require his seeing his Lordship that night, desired he would call in the morning. But on the man's saying "The morning will not do, it must be immediately," his Lordship was informed of his request, and the Spaniard ordered to be admitted. Upon his being introduced, he thus accosted his Lordshop in Spanish, the moment they were alone, "I am come, My Lord, to repay all your civilities -- But before I explain myself, order your berlin to be got ready.
The mysterious air which the Spaniard assumed upon this occasion soon convinced his Lordship of what he had suspected for some time, that his new dependent belonged to that fraternity, so necessary to every power, termed spies. He therefore ordered his carriage to be got ready. When this was done, the stranger thus continued: "I [p. 26] have for some time, my Lord, formed a very strict intimacy with a Russian in the suite of the Marquis de Chattardy. After leaving your Excellency's hotel I generally go to spend some hours with him. Staying at the Marquiss's hotel a few evenings ago, later than usual, I saw a person come in who endeavoured to hide himself from observation, as if desirous to remain unknown. This, your Lordship may be assured, awoke my suspicions; and as from the glimpse I had of him, I could only guess who it was, I resolved if possible to arrive at some certainty about it. For this purpose, when my friend returned, I asked him, wth a careless air, 'whether the Comte -- (I have forgot the name of this nobleman, but he was the favourite confidential servant of the Empress) usually walked at that inclement season of the year.' I took no further notice at that time; but went as usual to visit my friend the following evening. I did not, however, ring at the gate of the hotel, till I saw the Comte go in, who I guessed would be there about the same time.
Having gained admittance soon after him, instead of going to my friend's apartment, being well acquainted with every part of the hotel, I gained, unobserved, the back stairs, and placed myself near the closet in which his Excellency the Marquis [p. 27] and the Comte were in conversation. There I overheard the latter say, among other things to the Marquis in Italian, 'I think the sooner you go the betttr. The credentiais will be ready by eleven o'clock.' As soon as I had heard this, I stole from my hiding-place, and went immediately to my friend, who chid me for being so late, as he could not now profit by my company, from having so much to do.
I asked him what he had to do at this time more than another. To this he replied that he could not betray his master's secrets, though indeed he merited it, as he had broke his promise in not taking him with him. I did not make any further enquiry, lest what he imparted to me should have been under the seal of secrecy; and a Spaniard, your Excellency knows, is so tenacious of his honour to betray any thing that is divulged to him in confidence.
'And what do you suppose,' said his Lordship 'are the motives and will be the consequences of the Marquis's stealing away?' -- 'A revolution;' replied the Spaniard; 'and if your Lordship does not make haste to the Empress, and inform her with what I tell you, it will be too late to prevent it. I am acquainted with the whole cirumstances, but am not at liberty to mention more. Your Lordship, [p. 28] however, may take my life, if the intelligence I give you proves false."
His Lordship having been already convinced from his own observations and the information he had received from other quarters, that there was something portentous to the welfare of the Russian empire in agitation; after having tried the Spaniard to the utmost, he gave credit to what he said; and was now satisfied that his informant had received some intelligence under the seal of secrecy, as he termed it, the particulars of which he made a point of honour not to disclose, although he thought it no breach of honour to repeat the substance of it.
The carriage being by this time ready, Lord Tyrawley and the Spaniard set out together for the Empress's palace, notwithstanding the lateness of the hour and the inclemency of the weather. The English Ambassador procured admittance to her majesty immediately. But the Empress seemed to doubt the possibility of his information, till the Spaniard was called in; who gave her such convincing proof of what was intended, that she could no longer doubt the truth of his assertions. Her majestry then proposed sending such a particular troop to prevent the designs, she had just been informed of, from being carried into execution. But the Spaniard exclaimed, "No, you must secure them, as they are now actually under arms against [p. 29] you." The light at the time shone full upon them, as they were part of her body guard, and her favourite, Wall, Colonel of them. Some troops were sent to prevent the escape of the Marquis de Cattardy, but he was already fled; and, though pursued, found means to make his escape. He had not however time to destroy his papers. These were secured and brought to the palace. The regiment suspected were found under arams, which created a certainty of their intended terason. The treachery of her favourite, the Comte, was fully proved. But through some remains of that regard which she once entertained for him, his life was spared, and he was banished to Siberia. Whilst all those whom he had prevailed upon to join in his treacherous veiws, were immediately executed. Her majesty took the Spaniard into her service, and rewarded him nobly. And the presents she made Lord Tyrawley for the services he rendered her on this occasion, though of immense value, were not, in his estimation, of so much worth as the friendship with which she honoured him to the day of her death.