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BY THEOPHILUS SWIFT, ESQ.
THESE violets to my fair I bring,
Still as you charm, some flower we trace,
PETER THE GREAT.
TRANSLATED FROM THE RUSSIAN.
DURING the troubles occasioned by the unbounded ambition of the Princess Sophia*, it is
* Eldest sister of the Czar, who, on seeing her brother placed on the throne, made several attempts on his life. VOL. I.
well known, that the revolt of the Strelitz * brought the empire of Russia to the brink of ruin.
A brother of the famous Tottelawitau, named Osakoi, a colonel of this body, was beheaded. This execution was followed by the forfeiture of all his property. The Colonel left a son behind him, in the most deplorable state. The young man miraculously escaped the officers of justice, whom Peter had sent in pursuit of him in every direction, and was so lucky as to reach the cottage of a slave who had lived many years with his father, where he remained concealed for some months. This domestic,' who had shared the confidence of the father, was very much affected with the situation of the
young son, as heir of one of the most illustrious houses in Russia ; and as he had committed no offence, he thought the Emperor ought to have been satisfied with the blood of his family, that flowed on the scaffold. These considerations dwelt so powerfully on the mind of the old man, that he formed a plan, which he commu
, nicated to Osakoi, and which was neither more nor less than the assassination of the Czar. Notwithstanding he had worked up the feelings of the youth to a great height, yet he trembled at
* A militia, similar, in many respects, to that of the Preto rian amongst the Romans, or rather, the Turkish Janissaries.
the proposition : his personal safety, however, taught him to dissemble the impression that it made, so far as to listen to the means by which it was to be carried into 'execution. The slave, having supposed that he had succeeded in silencing the voice of religion and conscience, proposed that he should set out for Moscow, where he assured him he would meet with a trusty band of conspirátors, ready to place him at their head. Actuated at last perhaps by the infernal spirit of revenge, or the victim of weakness, Osakoi followed his conductor. They arrived at night, and took up their lodging in an inn, near Kremlin, the residence of the Emperor.
The slave having found his friends, it was agreed, that, as no time was to be lost, they should hold a council that very night in the ruins of a house within a short distance of the palace.
During all this time, Osakoi had not been able to draw from his guide any knowledge of the number or quality of the conspirators : he pressed him 'earnestly on these important points, but in vain.
“ The hour of meeting approaches,” said the slave; “ you are now going to join a number of persons, animated with a spirit of revenge. Notwithstanding your youth and inexperience, they have chosen you as their head. The humiliating state to which you are reduced, and
the blood of your father, which cries aloud for vengeance, ought to nerve your arm and inflame your courage : resolution is all that is wanted to crown the attempt with success !"
These words made Osakoi tremble, especially as the inn was full of a great number of Russians, who, according to the custom of the country, drank for the sake of drink.
It is true the slave spoke in a low voice, and in a dialect little known to the Russians at MosCOW;
but that was no reason that some one might not have overheard and understood the discourse.
The slave and Osakoi repaired to the place of meeting, where they found all the conspirators already assembled.
“ You see,” said one of them, who appeared to be the principal, addressing himself to Osakoi, “a circle of unhappy men, who have escaped the tyranny of the Czar. The greater part of our brethren the Strelitz have perished by the hands of the common executioner, and some of them even by the hands of the barbarian himself: he has not, however, been able to extend his fury to us. Heaven has reserved us for the instruments of its justice. The moment is now arrived : young Osakoi, I followed your father to the scaffold; I saw his blood stream down the block, but I could not save him. From that