Imagens das páginas

the centennial of his accession to the throne. This is an equestrian statue of the czar by Falconet, representing him at full speed springing up a rock, with his hand extended, and the inscription, Petro Primo, Catharina Secunda, 1782." Full of expression as this masterpiece is, we can fancy that, amid the busy scenes of the day-that mercantile traffic which he called into existence-or, in the stillness of the night, beneath the starry clearness of a polar sky, the statue of the czar must seem like some yet presiding power, and awaken a thrill of emotion in even a stranger's heart. Yes—for deeds like his stretch their influence into a far future, and win a deathless memory.

PETER'S SUCCESSORS. Catherine only survived her husband two years; and during her short reign, was chiefly guided in the administration of government by Prince Menzikoff. She was succeeded by Peter II., grandson of Peter the Great, and son of the unfortunate Alexis; and on his death, which took place in 1730, Anne, daughter of Ivan, the brother of Peter the Great, was called to the throne, chiefly by the influence of the Dalgorouki faction: a family who, however, soon lost their power; many of its members being banished to Siberia for their political offences. In 1735, the Persian provinces seized by Peter the Great were restored, although the reverses at the Pruth were retaliated by a war in alliance with Austria against the Turks. Anne expired in 1740, having bequeathed the crown, under a regency, to her grand-nephew, a child of two months old. But the discontent of the Russians at this arrangement, and at the foreign ministers who were imposed upon them, broke out into revolt, and Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great and Catherine, was called to the throne.

A war with Sweden during this reign ended by the acquisition of part of Finland by Russia ; and an alliance with Maria Theresa in the war of the Austrian succession, and the appearance on the Rhine of thirty-six thousand Russian auxiliaries, made Russia for the first time a participator in the politics of western Europe. This princess died January 1762, sincerely regretted by her subjects, to whom she had endeared herself by the leniency of her administration. Elizabeth was succeeded by her nephew, Peter III., Duke of Holstein Gottorp, whose first act was to break the Austrian alliance, and conclude a peace with Prussia. He abolished the torture of criminals, and instituted several wise regulations for the protection of commerce; but he displeased his subjects by his innovations with regard to the church and the army, while his consort, Catherine of Anhalt Tjerbst, who had long been at variance with him, fomented these disturbances. After reigning only six months, he was dethroned, in consequence of a conspiracy, and was thrown into prison, where he died a week afterwards--not without suspicion of his death being occasioned by violence. His wife, a woman of masculine understanding, but unprincipled character, succeeded him on the throne by the title of Catherine II. ; and her ambition gave a fresh impulse to Russian policy, which assumed the aggressive character by which it has ever since been distinguished.

When the throne of Poland became vacant, it was a Russian army that dictated the choice of a king, although the country was distracted long afterwards by civil war. The complaints of the Porte at the

continual occupation of the country by Russian troops led to a Turkish war, in which the Russians were victorious both by sea and by land. The Porte was compelled to acknowledge the Crim Tartars independent, and to yield to Russia an extensive tract of country. About this time the first partition of Poland took place, which gave Polotsk and Moghilev to Russia, and laid the foundation of future oppressions. A dangerous conspiracy was also formed by an impostor who personated the deceased Peter III. It was, however, quelled, and he suffered death in 1775. The internal administration was simplified during this reign by the division of the empire into fortythree governments, with separate jurisdictions, and by the gradual promulgation of a new code of laws. Desert places were colonised, and hundreds of new towns built.

During the greater part of the reign of Elizabeth, the Russian policy had been opposed to that of England; but the outbreak of the French Revolution changed this disposition, and an alliance and a commercial treaty were concluded between the two powers in 1793; but no hostile part was taken by the empress against France, as her attention was engaged by the second partition of Poland, by which she gained Podolia and the Ukraine, and half Lithuania and Volhynia, besides her former acquisitions. A revolt of the Poles, however, ensued under Kosciusko and Medalinski; but it was quelled with a slaughter of twenty. thousand Poles, and the nationality of this unhappy people extinguished. The third partition now taking place, Russia added Courland and the remainder of Lithuania and Volhynia to her wide-spreading dominions.

Catherine II. having thus succeeded in the favourite object of her policy, died in 1796; and her son Paul, a weak, yet tyrannic prince, ascended the throne. He joined the second grand coalition against France, and the Russian troops under Suwarrow and others distinguished themselves in Switzerland and Italy in the campaign of 1799. But soon after this Paul abandoned his allies, and concluded a peace with the first consul, and put himself at the head of the Convention of the North-a union of the northern powers on the system of an armed neutrality against the maritime supremacy of Great Britain. A war with England seemed inevitable, when Paul was murdered in his palace by a band of conspirators in the year 1801.

He was succeeded by his son Alexander, whose first step was




to effect a pacification with England, and disband an army of 45,000 Cossacks, which Paul had assembled with the wild design of attacking India. The Russian relations with France, however, remained peaceful until 1805, when Alexander refused to acknowledge Napoleon Bonaparte as emperor, and, joining with Austria against him, was defeated at the famous battle of Aus. terlitz. În 1806, the renewed alliance of Turkey with France was made the excuse for occupying but the victories of the French led to Zoldavia and Wallachia; between Alexander and Napoleon, and the peace of Tilsit which followed. It is scarcely worth while to narrate the treaties and alliances made and broken during the few following

years. In 1812, a final rupture with France took place, and an alliance with England and Sweden was formed. Napoleon marched an army of 500,000 men into Rússia ; but the disasters of the French belong more to their history than to this. The country was everywhere laid waste, and the confiagration of Moscow, it is said by the orders of the governor, Rostopchin, deprived the invaders of food and shelter, and compelled their retreat in a winter of unexampled severity even for Russia. Ninetenths of this vast body perished amid indescribable sufferings. Such are the horrors of war! Napoleon himself escaped only by flight.

After the restoration of the Bourbons to the crown of France in 1815, Russia became the head of the “Holy Alliance” entered into by Russia, Austria, Prussia, and France, for the suppression of revolutionary principles; and for the remainder of his reign, Alexander occupied himself chiefly with the internal affairs of his vast empire. The frontier provinces were strengthened by the establishment of military colonies ; and the emperor investigated in person the affairs of the interior provinces. It was during one of these tours of inspection that Alexander died at a place called Taganrog, on the river Don, December 1825, aged forty-eight. He left no children, and was succeeded by his brother Nicholas, the present emperor, the third son of Paul; Constantine, the second brother, having previously renounced the succession. This arrangement occasioned several insurrections, which were ultimately quelled, but not without considerable severity and slaughter.

With fleets upon the Baltic and the Black Seas, and with a standing army of nominally nearly a million of men, Russia presents a most formidable aspect. But, on the other hand, the absolute despotism of her government naturally chills the ener, gies of her people, and weakens their resources. With so large à proportion of the population in ignorance and serfdom, and where almost everything is ordered and executed by government, and little or nothing left to individual enterprise, it must be long before Russia can attain the rank of a free and enlightened nation.





TUDE was born on the

25th March 1725, at a château near Montagnac, in the south of France, the seat of his father, the Marquis de la Tude, a knight of the military order of St Louis, and lieutenant-colonel of a regiment of dragoons. Young Henry was educated in

manner befitting his rank, which, according to of France at that

the custom

made it a matter of course that he should follow his father's profession. His taste for mathematics led him to the engineering branch

of military science; and, at the MHATTATO

Ami age of twenty-two, he was admitted a supernumerary officer, under a friend of his father, the commandant of Bergen-op-Zoom.

Unfortunately for so ardent and restless a spirit, the peace of 1748 came to prevent his being actively employed; and he was sent in consequence to Paris, to perfect both his mathematical and general education. Had his laudable ambition confined itself to proficiency in these studies, when opportunity for their exercise should arrive, all his subsequent misfortunes might have been evoided; nor must pity of the sincerest kind for their unparalleled depth and bitterness, and just horror at the cruelty of the authors of them, blind us to their being, in the first instance, the consequence of attempting to rise in the world by crooked and unjustifiable means.

The profligate monarch who then ruled in France, Louis XV., was governed by a woman of the most imperious and vindictive character-the infamous Marchioness de Pompadour; who, while she did not hesitate to sacrifice, for the slightest offence, or most trifling personal reflection on herself, the chief ministers of the king and first personages in the state, thought nothing of recklessly dooming to perpetual imprisonment, and worse than death, whole hosts of minor offenders against her pride and ill-acquired power. It was on this woman's suspicious jealousy that La Tude built an ambitious speculation, which, cruelly turning against himself, formed the misfortune of his whole life; though its comparative harmlessness, and the boyish simplicity with which it was planned and conducted, would, in a less vindictive quarter,

No. 105.


have subjected him to no worse punishment than disappointment, or at most a severe reprimand.

One day, in the month of April 1749, when seated on a bench in the garden of the Tuileries, he overheard two men expressing in the most unineasured terms the hatred and indignation then, so general against Madame de Pompadour, and the project erossed his brain which he so fatally for himself proceeded to execute; namely, to gain, by the denunciation of a pretended plot against her life, her all-powerful protection. He accordingly put his scheme in execution. Its pretended revelations were too shallow to escape detection. The marchioness at once detected the trick attempted to be put on her, and revenged the affront by causing its unsuspicious author to be taken into custody. By one of those lettres de cachet (sealed orders from the crown) which she could procure at pleasure, La Tude was arrested on the 1st of May, and conducted to the Bastile, the prison-fortress of Paris; there, without form of trial, or means of communication with the world, to be immured for years, perhaps for life.

Overwhelming as was this incarceration, its evils were so softened to him by the kindness of the lieutenant of police, Monsieur Berryer, who granted him the society of a fellow-prisoner, and by the hopes, so natural to youth, of speedy emancipation, that he seems to have suffered far more acutely on his transfer, at the end of four months, to the prison of Vincennes —not only from the inference the removal gave rise to, of protracted captivity, but from its coming upon him in the deceptive guise of liberation.

In the month of September 1749, three turnkeys came into the prison, and one of them addressing La Tude, told him the order for his release had arrived; and, to do him justice, one of his first thoughts on obtaining his liberty was the hope of being able to procure the same boon for his companion in misfortune. His feelings on finding he had but exchanged one dungeon for another must be given in his own words, translated and abridged from the original narrative.


Hardly had I crossed the threshold of my prison, than I was told I was to be transferred to Vincennes. The despair and horror with which this intelligence overwhelmed me, it would be impossible to describe.

I soon fell sick in my new prison; but it was yet well with me, for the good M. Berryer came again to my relief. All he could do for me, he did. He gave me the most cheerful apartment in the fortress, from which I enjoyed a magnificent view; but what power had even this solace over one to whom the idea of perpetual imprisonment would have embittered the sweetest gratifications? My courage was only kept up by the hope of one day achieving my liberty; and being convinced I must be

« AnteriorContinuar »