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tion, that the former* were the ancient unrighteous crown, for a youth apand only nobility of Russia. Their peared, in 1694, pretending to be Deorigin cannot now be known, but they metrius, whom he asserted Gudenof are always spoken of, in the old bis- had vainly attempted to murder. Being torians, as the great persons of dis- supported by the Poles, he troubled tinction. Their dignity emanated from and perplexed Boris during his life, the sovereign, and was entirely per- and caused that disastrous period sonal, not descending from father to known as “the attempt of the false
The title is now obsolete, having Demetrius," during which Russia was merged into that of Prince, which the harassed and torn by sanguinary old Boyars most probably all received broils, on the change, ranking next the But heaven had also decreed that princes of the royal blood. The mo- the punishment of the murderer should dern nobility are far more numerous, be complete, for Demetrius finally less powerful, and consist of several succeeded in driving the son and succlasses. Princes, of which there are cessor of Boris from the throne, and many, are connexions of the reigning in seizing the sceptre for himself
. family, or created, which often hap- Yet the instrument of Divine venpens, for State reasons. The pre-emi- geance, baving fulfilled his mission, nent among the latter, however, are was destined to experience that falsethose who receive their “diplomas" hood and violence cannot meet the from the German Emperor. Among success of truth and right; for though the rest may be classed the Khans of he had been fully acknowledged, and various tribes subject to Russia, and had even obtained the hand of a Po. the Ataman, or Hetman, of the Cos- lish princess, he fell in a tumult of the sacks.
populace, which had been excited Counts are much fewer in number, against him by a confederate of his and their creation recent, dating from own. This new adventurer was Vasthe commencement of the eighteenth sili Ivanovnitch Zuskoi, “thestranger," century, the German title of “ Graf” who, in his turn, did not long enjoy being adopted into the Russian lan- the reward of his treachery, being guage.
in a short time deposed by a now irriBarons, or “Freyhern ” (free lords), tated and feverish nation. are contemporaneous with the Counts, The Poles had taken advantage of and also of very limited extent. all those miseries and contentions to
Simple noblemen, which is a very make greater aggressions on Russia ; large class, including some remarkably and gained so firm a footing, by causwealthy families, and others in the ing and increasing the storms that greatest poverty, some villages in Si. agitated the nation, that they resolved beria being entirely inhabited by these now to seriously interfere with the unnoblemen, who perform their own settled succession. hand labour, like the “petty poblesse” Having gained a portion of the in Poland.
Boyars, on holding out great hopes The Russian nobility are much more and promises, they forced the election numerous than that of other states, of Uladislof, son of Sigismund their for patents can be obtained by military king. The ambition of the latter rose service, by alien pedigree, and by extravagantly with an unhoped for sucforeign diploma.
cess; and conceiving that the favourBoris Feodorovitch Gudenof, being able opportunity had arrived for anelected Czar, ascended the throne in nexing the entire of Russia, he pre1598; but the hand of heaven, as if prepared, with cruel deliberation, for indignant at the national complicity in this grand consummation. The Poles his crime, marked his reign by one of in Russia being well armed, and nearly the most dreadful faminest ever visited all soldiers, had greatly the advantage ; upon any country in the world.
and Sigismund, that he might create The sufferings of the Jews during the greater coufusion, ordered Moscow their memorable siege were equalled, to be set on fire in several parts, if not exceeded; and Gudenof soon which left the terrified inhabitants an felt the disquietude of a usurped and easier prey to their enemies. But the
Lomonof, p. 37.
exasperated Russians, turning with the who ever took advantage of the diffury of despair on their destroyers, ficulties of the empire to add to their the merited result was the final over- own influence and authority. The peothrow and expulsion of Sigismund and ple paid them more reverence than their his son.
princes, by which they gained so much The Russians now resolved to end of the ascendant, that while Alexey their distractions, and to solemnly deposed the haughty patriarch Nikon, elect a Czar by universal suffrage, he could never fully recover absolute whose sway should be indisputably re- dominion. Tumults and confusion also cognised by common consent; and arose from the contradictory and uncerwith their choice commences a new tain state of the law, and the jarring era and a new line.
claims of the border nobles. An “ Em“ In a general assembly of the manoy ukase," or order of the soveBoyars and other states of the coun- reign, signed by his own hand, had try,'* it was decreed that as the male ever been the supreme law of Russia, line of Ruric was extinct, the nearest and superseded all others. Successive relative to the old Czarian family monarchs, therefore, having granted should be immediately selected, when ukases at different periods, and under Mikhaila Feodorovitch Romanof, a various prejudices, it is not surprising youth of seventeen, without either ex- that the legal code should often have pecting or soliciting so great a dignity, been found both conflicting and perwas raised to the throne in 1613, hav- plexing, ing "a charter of it executed to him It was the clear mind of Alexey that and all his posterity,"t which they hold first perceived the necessity of a settled to the present day.
digest of laws for the guidance and reThis complete union in the election of gulation of the courts, and for this a sovereign has long been as conducive purpose, having“ assembled the Boyars to the progress of Russia, as the pecu- and clergy,” he selected from the edicts liar family fixed upon to rule her desti- of his predecessors such as had been nies has been suited to act upon her generally current for one hundred years expansive powers ; and though previ- before. Supposing these to be founded ously but little known, she has, under on the greatest justice, and adapted to the Romanof dynasty, appeared all at the people, he had them arranged in an once, in full character, as it were, upon intelligible form, and this celebrated the great European theatre, and, after and useful compilation was called the a short trial of her powers, become the “ Uloshenie," or selection, and remains umpire and arbitress of the North. to this day the common law of Russia,
But though elected by the unanimous as it is also a lasting memorial of the voice of his
country, the founder of the wisdom and ability of Alexey MikhaiRomanof line, in consequence of his lovitch. recent elevation, was compelled to pur- The contentions of the Boyars were chase the repose of his dominions by occasioned by some families having the sacrifice of Ingria and Karelia to been charged with the defence of the the Swedes, and Smolensko and Tcher- old borders ; but when, by the conquest nikof to the Poles. But this was the of Casan, the frontier was so greatly last occasion on which the Russian em. extended, those nobles being relieved pire had to temporarily retrograde, or of the great burden, found the former submit to the misfortune of any dimi- scanty allowance profitable under the nution. Those losses were recovered altered circumstances. Disputes about after the death of Mikhaila, which hap- the right of guarding certain districts pened in 1646, by his son Alexey Mik- were the results, and the proofs of the hailovitch, and from that period Rus- titles were both tedious and intricate. sia has steadily exceeded her ancient The Czar ordered the family archives possessions.
of all the nobility, as those of the disWhile the reign of Alexey was dis- putants, and all references establishing quieted by enemies from without, it their respective claims, to be brought to was, in reality, more disturbed by in- Moscow, where he lodged them in a ternal struggles, caused by the rising large wooden edifice erected for the power and pride of an ambitious clergy, purpose. While his decision was yet
eagerly looked for, he took care that tune to make an extensive and blood. the wooden receptacle and all its con- less addition to his dominions, and he tents should be consumed by fire; and is as distinguished for his wise and in the morning he calmly informed the successful administration, as for being Boyars, that " since their much-prized the father of the first and most illusdocuments were unfortunately lost, trious Emperor of Russia. He was from that moment the several ranks succeeded in 1676 by his son, Feodor and degrees were no longer private but Alexeyvitch, whose partiality fixed national, and that he was the dispenser upon his youngest brother, Peter, as of rewards and justice for all, and to heir to the throne. But his sister, the all ;” and from thenceforth honours, Princess Sophia, having formed a titles, and precedence, remained for strong party in favour of his other ever vested in the Crown.
brother, Ivan, they were both proBut the grand event which distin- claimed joint sovereigns on the death guishes the reign of this remarkable of Feodor, with Sophia for their guarCzar, was the voluntary reunion of the dian, and the regent of the nation, principality of Kief, which had been Sophia soon employed her influence in torn from the empire by Gedimin, in forming a conspiracy against the life 1320, and subsequently with Lithuania, of Peter, which being discovered, she incorporated with Poland.
was condemned to perpetual confineThe Kievians, since their separation ment in a convent, and Ivan, an in. from Russia, had ever found the domi. firm prince, afflicted with epilepsy, nation of the Polish kings extremely continued a nominal sovereign until tyrannical and severe; a multitude of 1696, when by his demise the sole and them, therefore, abandoned their coun. supreme power reverted to his immor. try, and settling in the lower region of tal brother. thc Dnieper, speedily formed a petty The good genius of Russia presided state. By degrees they spread as far over the birth of Peter, and for his as the Bug and Dniester, being perpe- hand it was reserved to effectually tually engaged, like the Knights of St. shape the unwieldy Colossus of the emJohn, in wars with the Turks and Tar- pire into a vigorous and powerful tars. King Sigismund immediately form. perceived the importance of a military His was one of those wonderful and community as a barrier to Poland comprehensive minds, that appear the against the infidels, and fostering and special instruments of Providence, in encouraging the Cossacks, made over accomplishing its decrees, and deveto them a vast tract above the cataracts loping the course of time; that create of the Dnieper; and Stephen Battori new eras for nations, and rising above gave them a “ Hetman," or supreme the past, act conspicuously upon the commander. But their successors de present, while they throw that influence parted from this wise policy, they for- over the future which makes posterity bade the Cossacks to quarrel with the familiar with the existence of a great Turks, and forcing themselves into man, and writes his name indelibly in the Republic, obliged it to renounce the annals of the world. the Patriarch of Constantinople, and Previous to the accession of this reto acknowledge the supremacy of the markable prince, Russia had neither Pope.
regular navy nor standing army; but Irritated by this persecuting intru- in 1698, the Czar went in the suite of sion, the Cossacks determined upon his own_ambassador into Holland, throwing off the Polish yoke, and ac- where “ Peter Mikhailof" worked as a cordingly, under their Hetman Bogdan humble ship carpenter at Amsterdam. Khmelnitzki, they formally submitted Not conceiving, however, that he themselves to Czar Alexey Mikhailo- was afforded the means of deriving in vitch, a.d. 1654.
this place the benefit and informaThis example was soon followed by tion that he desired, he transferred their kinsmen on the other side of the himself to the dockyards of England, Dnieper, and thus Kief, with all the where he laboured assiduously, by pertowns and villages of « Little Rus- mission of King William III., and resia," was once more added to the pro- turned to Russia with a sixty-gun ship, gress of the great empire.
the commencement of his navy, and If Alexy Mikhailovitch was not a built principally by his own hands. warlike monarch, he had the good for- The nucleus of his army was a company of fifty men, which he equipped The bold firmness and superior abiafter the German manner, and placed lity of Peter had fully recovered the over them foreign officers, becoming despotic authority of the ancient Czars, himself their drummer, as the lowest and at the same time that he had grade, and never promoting himself to opened his dominions to all foreigners any rank, except in his unquestionable of intelligence and enterprise, the turn as a soldier of fortune.
wealthiest and most important of his By strenuous personal exertions, own subjects were ordered to traand liberally rewarding artisans from vel into other countries, to improve all parts of Europe, he added vessel their knowledge and their learning. after vessel to his fleet, and incessantly These innovations caused serious reinforcing and exercising his army, discontents among a people wedded he soon got together a considerable to their ignorance and barbarism, body of disciplined troops (which he but the murmurings were fatally knew were alone valuable), until, in suppressed by the discovery of a con1700, he reviewed thirty thousand of spiracy to dethrone the Czar, which his guards. With this force, trained was punished with terrifying rigour. under himself, he defeated the Turks Once only was Peter I. in imminent in a bloody engagement at Azove, danger, and the star of Russia near depriving them of that important for. setting in irreparable gloom. In 1712, tress; and while he viewed with satis- he was completely surrounded by the faction bis ships destroying those of Turks on the banks of the Pruth, and the enemy on the neighbouring sea, he nothing could have saved him and his emphatically exclaimed, that "if Rus- army from destruction, had not the sia owed her navy to him, he owed his address and prudence of Catherine, knowledge, and the art of constructing his consort, bribed the vizier, and deit, to England.”
livered the Russians. His success, in a sea which was shut The alliance which Peter had enup by the Dardenelles, turned the tered into with Gustavus of Poland eyes of the indefatigable Czar to the against Charles XII., had been folBaltic, and in 1703, a low, fenny, lowed by the battle of Pultowa, so uncultivated island, formed by the disastrous to the arms of the Scandi. branches of the Neva before they fall navian monarch ; but it was not until into the Gulf of Finland, resounded after a celebrated and protracted war with the hum and the labour of three of twenty years, which our limits adhundred thousand men.
Dreary fo- mit not of tracing, that Livonia and rests were opened, swamps drained, Esthonia, the old causes of blood and dykes raised, causeways laid, and with discord, which Ivan Vassilievitch had them the foundations of a new city. contended for in vain, together with The fort of Nattebourg was taken, Ingria, Kexholm, and Vyborg, were and the town of Nuschanz being de- finally ceded to the sceptre of the molished, the materials and the inha- Czar; and this consolidation, so long bitants were the first transported to aimed at, was soon followed by the the chosen locality. One hundred annexation of Lapland, and the northousand men perished under the seve
thern extension of Russia was comrity of the labour, but the work was pleted to the shores of the Frozen pressed on with such incredible vigour, Ocean. that in little more than one year the The Czar was ably assisted in all fortress, wbich is encircled on all sides his enterprises by Alexander Mensby the Neva, was the centre of a city chikoff, one of those peculiar children containing thirty thousand habitations. of fortune who improve the great ad. To these were invited merchants, me- vantages she affords, by a talent to chanics, and artificers, from all parts perceive, and an address to seize, of the civilised world; a thousand fa- every favourable and happy opportumilies were withdrawn from Moscow, nity. To these qualities, possessed in the nobility were compelled to quit an eminent degree, Menschikoff owed their palaces and their villas for a much of his rise, having been origicomfortless climate, and an ukase was nally an humble apprentice to a pastryissued directing the merchandise hi- cook, near the palace in Moscow. therto landed at Archangel, to be From this proximity he contrived to conveyed through the Baltic to St. gain a subordinate situation in the Petersburgh.
household of Peter I., where he first
became remarkable for his proficiency been received into the Greek Church, as a linguist, to which attractive ac. and baptised by the name of Cathequirement he had judiciously and suc- rine, became the Czarina of Russia, cessfully devoted his natural powers. and Menschikoff was created a prince, A bappy occasion made the Czar ac- and gratified with the government of quainted with this convenient accom- Ingria. plishment, and Menschikoff was ad. It was now that Peter, at the sum. vanced to personal attendance on a so- mit of fortune, with a victorious army vereign who valued industry and abi. modelled after the most military nality above every attribute.
tions, and a fleet of his own creating The cautious and plausible domestic in every sea that washed a shore of his soon made himself agreeable to his dominions, assumed, A.D. 1721, at the master, and gradually became useful instance of his principal subjects, the and necessary. His capacity was equal highest title of dignity known to manto his advancement, and did credit to kind, and became the first, as he was the judgment of Peter; for on being the greatest, Emperor of Russia. But raised to the rank of major-general, earthly elevation, magnificence, and Menschikoff signalised himself by his prosperity, cannot free man from the successes in Poland, in 1708.
taint and yellow clay of our fallen naBut another and secret influence ture, and Peter, with all his magnanipromoted the rise of the fortunate fa. mity and greatness, was addicted to vourite. A young female, named Mar. intemperance and cruelty. tha, had accidentally entered his ser- The unhappy Czarcvitch, Alexey, vice during his first prosperity, whose had ever been an object of aversion to eventful career brought her into singu- his sire, who at length sacrificed him to lar contact with another individual, his dislike, violating the sacred tribumarked out for a lofty and unlooked. nal of justice with the mock form that for destiny:
preceded his execution, and the unna. This girl was the daughter of a pea- tural plea on which the Emperor disant woman, and born at Ringen, in lated in his speech to the council, Livonia, April 5th, 1687, while that “ that his son was totally unfit to ocprovince belonged to Sweden. The cupy the throne.” mother and daughter were supported, The unfortunate Lapuchin, the broaccording to custom, by Count Rosan, ther of Ottokessa, shared the same a colonel in the Swedish service, and fate; nor did the hatred of Peter the proprietor of the village, who was spare his own confessor, whose only also supposed to be the father of Mar. crime had been a noble remonstrance tha.
on behalf of the condemned Prince. When only three years of age, the This black transaction is contrasted child lost her mother, and the Count with the gratitude and tenderness dying about the same time, she was left which caused Catherine to be publicly so destitute, that the parish clerk of crowned at Moscow, in 1724, when the the village charitably received her into Emperor particularly specified her conhis house. From this she was taken duct at the Pruth, on which critical by M. Gluck, the Lutheran minister occasion her judicious interference of Marienburgh, as an attendant on alone gave him an opportunity to sign his children, in which capacity she re- a truce, which rescued him from defeat mained until she married a dragoon of and disgrace. the garrison, in her fourteenth year. Soon after her coronation, the influ. This man soon deserted her, and when ence of Catherine saved her friend Marienburgh surrendered to the Rus- Menschikoff froin degradation; for, sians, Martha was taken possession of being accused and convicted of emby General Baur, froin whose service bezzling public money, he was fined she passed into the establishment of three hundred thousand crowns; but Menschikoff, where, at the age of seven- the deserved punishment was remitted, teen, she was first accidentally beheld and he got the command of the army by the Czar, and transferred to the of the Ukraine. Notwithstanding her palace in 1704.
interest, however, Menschikoff was Peter I. had been early married to again near forfeiting his position and Ottokessa Lapuchin, from whom he his fortune, in his over-zeal to make had been long divorced, and on the sure of preserving them, when his now 29th of May, 1711, Martha, having visibly declining master should be finally