Sidor som bilder

half a mile distant. The younger of the two put his horse into a gallop, and soon came up to the fire. "It was a log-house, and the roof was in a blaze in three places. On entering the house, he was met at the threshold by the piteous cry of an old man, who was lying on a trundle-bed in one corner, entirely crippled with rheumatism, and as helpless as an infant. 'Oh, sir, cried he, 'for mercy's sake, tak me out, or I shall be burned up alive!' He became a little more calm when assured that he was not in immediate danger, and that he would be taken care of in time. In the loft above was found his aged wife, terror-stricken, who had been trying in vain to extinguish the fire with a little tin bucket half full of water, and a small gourd.

“As soon as the young minister found an axe, he went heartily to work; and after knocking off a large portion of the roof, succeeded in extinguishing the fire, and had the pleasure of assuring the old couple that the danger was over, and all was safe. They expressed their gratitude with tears and many thanks. The minister told them give thanks to God, whose providence alone had saved them,—that they intended to have taken another road, but had been led this way.

“Wonderful mercy!' said the old man; and turning pale at the thought, he added, 'Oh! had you gone by the court-house, we by this time should have been burned to ashes. What a mercy! what a mercy !' he continued to repeat; and said, “Oh! how wicked" I have been! I have never believed in a Providence. I laughed at it, and hated the thought that God took any notice of us; but now I feel there is a Providence ! Yes, there is a Providence that sent you here to save us from the fire.'

“He then inquired who we were, and where from ; and when told that we were clergymen, and that one of us lived twenty-five miles, and the other one hundred miles distant, he was deeply affected, and said, 'How strange it is! I have always hated ministers, and would not permit them to cross the threshold of my door; and now God has sent two of them to save such an old, vile, crippled creature as I am from death!' He began to confess the sins of his past life, and particularly expressed regret that he had so long opposed his wife, who, he said, always wanted to be a Christain. He had been a soldier, and had learned to drink liquor, to scoff at religion, and to make Tom Paine’s book his Bible; and now, said he, 'I begin to feel the guilt of it all ; it comes upon me like a mountain load.'

“They were told that their sins had kindled the more dreadful fire of perdition, from which no human arm can save ; and they were both urged to flee from the wrath to come, and lay hold on the Hand that was nailed to the cross.

“A small tract, giving an account of the conversion of John Price, was then read to them. It contains a brief notice of the downward course of an habitual drinker and gamester, and of his wonderful reformation and conversion to God. One of the most touching passages in the tract is that in which he asks his little daughter to read the Bible to him. She read the 51st and 103rd Psalms. The father was much affected, and wept, and said, 'Surely, God made her choose those two Psalms.'

The old couple, both in tears, listened to the reading; and when it was completed he said, “Surely, God made you choose that tract for

us, every word of it comes home to my heart; and now will you be kind enough to read to us the same chapters of the Bible that the little girl read to her father?' The request was gladly complied with, and the 51st Psalm was read, very distinctly and slowly. There he lay upon his bed, a man of large frame, and expanded chest, but with his arms and legs so contracted by rheumatism, that for sixteen years he had been unable to move himself without aid ; and as the reading proceeded, the tears ran down his cheeks in a stream. On hearing the fourth verse, 'Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,' he cried out, "Oh, yes! that is the worst of it ; it is all against God-all against God. Have mercy upon me, O God!' He became more composed as the reading was continued ; and when it was finished he said, in a low, subdued tone, "That is God's word, and seems made on purpose for me.

.'"-Christian Spectator.


The following sketch is taken from "An account of Russia before the time of Peter the Great." The individual whose outlines it purports to describe, was the son of Vassili Ivanovitch, King of Russia, by the Princess Helen,-a woman whose profligacy of manners and blood-thirstiness of disposition, led to her being poisoned by the connivance of her own family. The son was worthy of his pedigree. He grew up an embodiment of his mother's worst qualties, and is known in history as Ivan the Terrible. “His boyish amusement was to ride down old men and women, and to worry them with dogs. His subjects called his minority a “minority of blood." He was partially brought to reason, however, by the inhabitants of Moscow, who, made desperate by his ferocious rule, fired the city in several places in one night, and nearly burnt him in his bed. He first established a Russian militia, the wellknown “strelitz,” by which means he doubled the military force at his command. He compelled the khan to be baptized, and overthrew the Turks with their whole army of 80,000 men. Siberia, with its mines of gold and silver, was added to Russia in his reign, a territory extending across the north of Asia, from the frozen ocean to the frontiers of China. During the life of his wife Anastasia, who had great influence over him, Ivan had restrained his passions within tolerable bounds ; but after her death he became a perfect monster of ferocity. His first act was to exile his prudent advisers, and persecute their friends ; one of them he stabbed with his own hands, while the victim was devoutly praying in church. His chief delight was to witness the agonies of the torture which he causelessly inflicted. He constantly carried an iron rod, with which he chastised those who brought him unwelcome intelligence, and would coolly read the letters while the blood was streaming from their persons. The inhabitants of Novogorod offended him, and he revenged himself by a massacre which endured five weeks, from 500 to 1000 being slaughtered every day, hundreds of them by his own hand. A volume might be filled with a bare recapitulation of the details of his bloody and disgusting tyranny. He yet thought himself a fit subject for an English alliance, and sent to queen Elizabeth, demanding the hand of the lady Mary Hastings in marriage. The crowning atrocity of this miscreant was the murder of his favourite son, whom in a moment of suspicion he accused of conspiring against him, and felled to the ground with his iron rod. The prince perished from the blow, and Ivan the Terrible never smiled after. He died in the agonies of remorse on the 17th of March, 1584, leaving behind him a character for cool, gratuitous ferocity and cruelty, unparalleled in human history."



Catherine II. was an extraordinary woman in all respects, except, indeed, that she seems to have been wholly divested of moral principle. Her apparently virtuous acts turn out, on examination, to have been only strokes of policy; and nothing is so clear as that she always kept her eye steadily fixed on herself in all her movements. Hear the testimony of her biographer :

“The early years of her reign were signalized by the progress of many domestic ameliorations, and by exertions really extraordinary, the object and tendency of which were to place Russia on a level with the civilized countries of the south. She encouraged men of science, and rewarded them liberally. In 1767 she commissioned Dr. Pallas, in conjunction with several of the most eminent professors of Europe, to undertake a personal survey of her vast dominions, in order to ascertain the geography of the extensive and almost unknown territories over which she ruled-to determine the position of the chief towns, and to describe the temperature, soil, and productions of the various districts. This survey of her empire proved of extensive service to literature and science, and stands foremost amidst all the triumphs of her reign. Historians have agreed that, by the countenance she afforded to intellectual and scientific pursuits, to which the Russians hitherto had manifested but little inclination, she did more towards civilizing her barbarous subjects than even Peter the Great himself. She founded in St. Petersburg alone, thirty-one seminaries in which about seven thousand children of both sexes were educated, at an annual expense of above three-fourths of a million of roubles. She personally superintended the education of her own grandchildren, and even compiled works for their instruction. She earned the eulogiums of men of letters by the patronage she bestowed upon literature in the persons of its adherents. She received at her table the emigrant philosophers of France, and courted their praise at royal banquets ; but she had not the magnanimity to tolerate the freedom of French wit, and banished Diderot for a repartee. She acknowledged the merit of the British statesman Fox, by placing his bust between those of Cicero and Demosthenes in her library. She purchased the libraries, letters, and papers of Voltaire and D'Alembert, professed her admiration of the infidel philosophy they promulgated, and figured for some time in the eyes of Europe as the imperial Amphytrion of the errant and exiled Encyclopædists.

“From the above summary of the acts of Catherine, it will be seen that, looking at one side of her character, she may be deservedly ranked among the greatest of the sovereigns who have occupied the Russian throne-restricting the sense of the word 'greatness," however, so that it comprehends neither virtue nor goodness. Looking at her character in its moral aspect, it was incomparably the most vile and disgusting ever presented by the history of governors for the contemplation of the governed, As we have no wish to defile our columns even by the barest outline of her sensualities, we pass this part of the subject, merely stating that in our opinion, to call her the Messalina of her country and her day, is to libel the abandoned woman who bore that name. Always insanely ambitious, she was always cruel and unscrupulous in the means she employed for the attainment of her ends. She conferred the kingdom of Poland upon one of her paramours, but deprived him of it when she found him disposed to thwart her wishes by bestowing a constitution upon his subjects. Conscious of her part in the bloody tragedy which had placed the empire beneath her sway, she was perpetually haunted by the dread of being hurled, by some plot or revolution, secret and sudden, from the throne she had usurped. To prevent this, she hesitated at the commission of no crime, however disgraceful or revolting. She caused Ivan, whom her husband had generously liberated from prison, to be privately assassinated. By the treacherous agency of Alexis Orloff, she got the princess Tarakanoff

, daughter of the empress Elizabeth, into her

power, and had her confined in a prison from which she was never released. She regarded even her own son Paul as a rival, and always manifested for bim the utmost aversion ; and it is conjectured would have put him to death, to smooth the path of her favourite Potemkin, if the deed could have been done with impunity. On one occasion, when it was given out that prince Paul was indisposed, the people, ever mindful of the tragedy of Peter III., congregated in multitudes around the palace, and demanded with loud cries that he should be produced. The Empress, pale and trembling, fearful for her own safety, brought him forward. To this legitimate terror, inspired by the people,' says a French historian of the time, they owe the existence of the prince. She was meditating a new war with the Turks, when she was suddenly seized with apoplexy on the morning of the 9th of November, and died at ten o'clock in the evening of the following day. 3. THE MASTER-PIECE OF DUPLICITY AND MEANNESS :



Nicholas was not heir to the throne of the Czars. The throne of Russia was inherited by his brother Constantine, but “ Alexander," as his biographer states, “had prevailed upon his brother, the grand duke Constantine, whose frenzied temper rendered him unfit to govern, to sign a resignation of his right to the throne in favour of his brother Nicholas. The measure, though a wise one-for Constantine was the impersonation of mere idiotic and savage fury-led to fatal consequences. No sooner was Alexander known to be dead, than a crowd of conspiracies burst into action, each having different objects in view, but all determined in the establishment of a more liberal governing policy, The resignation of the grand duke was disbelieved by the soldiery, who, headed by a party of conspirators who had purposely intoxicated them, paraded the streets and squares of St. Petersburg, shouting "Long live Constantine !"

The confusion that prevailed, and the want of any settled plan, and still more of any recognised leader, proved the safety of the dynasty. The royal family, assembled in the Emperor's palace, in anxiety and horror awaited the result. After some hours of wretched uncertainty, the Ministers of State urged Nicholas to shew himself to the troops, and risk his succession and his life upon their loyalty. The Czar hesitated for some time, but at length accompanied by Count Miloradovitch and a staff of officers, rode towards the insurgents. The Count attempted to address them, but immediately fell dead by a pistol shot. Nicholas ordered his followers to charge, and a deadly strife ensued, which, enduring for some time, was put an end to by the arrival of artillery. A close discharge of grape-shot among the masses of the rebels mowed them down with frightful havoc. Above five hundred were slain on the spot, and a far greater number were made prisoners. It was observed on this occasion that Nicholas, once face to face with the rebels, showed great presence of mind.”

There was in the south another conspiracy, which he quelled with equal success, but he displayed on the occasion, a vindictiveness that can find no justification, except in the logic of barbarism. Paul Pestal and his accomplices, were refused a public trial, and the council was packed with the monarch's own creatures, which determined the fate of the conspirators. The common soldiers were pardoned; but, pardoned for reasons of policy, and not from motives of pity: Of those, who were accused as leaders, more than fourscore were banished for limited periods ; one and thirty for life; and five were hanged.

The breaking out of the Polish Revolution, supplied Europe with fresh indications of the character of Nicholas. “The insurgent Poles had attacked his brother Constantine in his palace at Warsaw, and compelled


him and his wife to save themselves by flight. The Czar, in revenge, poured his troops on that devoted country, and completed, it is to be feared, for ever, its political destruction, after a heroic struggle on the part of the patriots of more than seven months. Their subjugation was followed by the infliction of barbarities unheard of, in civilised warfare. The unfortunate people were hunted like wild beasts; the captives were driven in herds to recruit the military detachments of Russia at the frozen outposts of its vast dominions, over roads strewed with the dead and dying, who perished miserably by the way, General Diebitsch, who opened the campaign against Poland, wished to conciliate as well as to vanquish his enemies. It is thought, that on this account, he was superseded in the command by Paskievitch; he died shortly after; some say from mortification, others say by poison, but most probably by an attack of cholera. The grand duke Constantine died in the same year, and the same suspicions have been mooted concerning his death.”

On the occasion of cholera attacking St. Petersburgh ; Europe was supplied with a singular specimen of the Russian people, and we may add, a most unique specimen of their august ruler. “The ignorant population, imagining that the plague was the work of the foreigners, whom they regarded as secret enemies, rose in insurrection, and sacrificed a number of strangers to their blind and ignorant fury. It is impossible to say to what extremities they might have proceeded, had not the Emperor, who had retired with his family from the city when the disorder broke out, appeared among his distracted and furious subjects at the critical moment. He drove suddenly into the frenzied crowd, and addressing them sternly, told them the direful visitation had been sent from heaven as a punishment for their sins, adding in a loud voice ; “Instead of doing penance and praying for forgiveness, you double your faults and load your consciences with fresh crimes. On your knees, unhappy beings, and ask pardon from me and Christ !" Terrified by his majestic bearing, and awed by his words, the populace prostrated themselves in submission, Those who had been most violent were severely punished, and order was restored.”

He boasts that he is “the father of his people.” But what is such a boast good for when the great body of that people are in a state of serfdom ; when he sacrifices them by tens of thousands, for the aggrandisement of his dynasty; when the shops for the consumption of the brandy, of which, he is the great monopolist, are to schools, in the ratio of a million to one. What is such a boast good for ? when he will sacrifice “thousands of lives, for the gratification of a luxurious whim” in the sudden rebuilding of his winter palace ; when to gratify an implacable resentment, he consigns the helpless children of political offenders to the wilds of Siberia, and is deaf to cries for mercy uttered imploringly, after a quarter of a century's endurance of unmerited punishment. Nicholas may be a kind father to that portion of the Russian family that dwells in his palace, but most assuredly he deserves no such

character with respect to his people in general; while as a statesman in European affairs, he is, for knavery and ambition, not a whit inferior to the most accomplished of his predecessors. Let his biographer speak ;-“The war which he secretly, prepared against France, and which was proved beyond the probability of doubt, by the seizure of state-papers at Warsaw, in the portfolio of the grand duke Constantine, show that he deceived Louis Philippe at that critical period. That he was equally false and treacherous towards Austria, was shown by documents seized at the same time. Later, his proposal for the annihilation of the Turkish empire, and the division of its territory between Russia, France, and England, as disclosed the other day by Sir Hamilton Seymour, our Ambassador, manifests that he has no reluctance to any extremes of political duplicity or injustice to

« FöregåendeFortsätt »