But the Liberalism of his early years was gone for ever, and he had become reconciled to Metternich's view that, in an age of decay, the sole function of a statesman was to "prop up mouldering institutions."
It was not till 1801 that the last mouldering head of the Fettmilch company dropped unnoticed from the Rententurm, the old tower near the bridge.
It was a flourishing city several miles in circuit when it was destroyed by the Afghans in 1722, but is now a decayed place, with crumbled walls and mouldering towers and a population of barely 15,000.
He recognized that the fault of the government lay in the fact that it did not govern, and he deplored that his own function, in a decadent age, was but " to prop up mouldering institutions."
The rigid conservatism that resulted from this attitude served, indeed, a useful purpose in giving weight to Castlereaghs counsels in the European concert; for Metternich at least, wholly occupied with propping up mouldering institutions, could not have worked harmoniously with a minister suspected of an itch for reform.
I went a-chestnutting there in the fall, on windy days, when the nuts were dropping into the water and were washed to my feet; and one day, as I crept along its sedgy shore, the fresh spray blowing in my face, I came upon the mouldering wreck of a boat, the sides gone, and hardly more than the impression of its flat bottom left amid the rushes; yet its model was sharply defined, as if it were a large decayed pad, with its veins.