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ribbon. This says that city which he loves so heartily. The wish of your good subjects--and they are a considerable number—is that the successor to the favourite may have no further function entrusted to him than that of pleasing his amiable benefactress; and this is the wish, too, of a man who will have the name of Catherine engraved on marble, jasper, and granite.
The empress replied to this : “ Zeal dictated your postscript: I have burnt it.” These mutual naïve confessions show the intimate terms on which they stood. But in all probability she showed the billet to Potemkin, for from this time he pursued Sievers with a rancour which eventually caused his downfal. But Sievers was in the seventh heaven of business: he was earnestly engaged in carrying out all the reforms the empress desired, and created bimself a rare number of enemies by his exertions to stop corruption. His chief enemy was the procureur-general, Prince Wäsemski, who thwarted his plans in every possible way. The character of this prince will be found admirably portrayed in the Princess Dashkoff's Memoirs, which created so great a sensation some twenty years back.
In the mean while the empress was losing all feelings of womanly dignity, and the people were growing more and more disgusted at the reckless extravagance. It seemed Catherine's misfortune to be continually giving to the nation with one hand and taking away with the other. The rejoicings produced by the new constitution had scarce terminated when the Russians saw themselves more than ever humiliated by the uncontrolled passions of the empress. Hence they joyfully greeted the unespected appearance of Alexei Orlow at court, for they saw in him the only man who could make a stand against the omnipotent Potemkin. Catherine immediately sent for him, received him in the most flattering manner, and implored him to become a friend to Potemkin, in order that the “ marvellous man," guided by him, might not utterly embitter her life.
Alexei, true to his reckless character, declared himself her slave, and his life at her service. If Potemkin disturbed her peace of mind, she had only to command: he should disappear at once, and she would never be troubled by him again. But he could not enter into court intrigues, to gain the attachment of a man whom he must despise and ever regard as the greatest enemy of the state. Here the empress burst into tears. Orlow retired, but returned in a few moments, and continued: “I know for certain that Potemkin has no real devotion to your majesty. He only regards his own interest: cunning is his prominent talent; and lie is striving to withdraw you from business, and lull you into a state of careless sloth, that he may assume the power himself. He has injured your fleet, ruined your army, and, worse than all
, lowered your reputation in the eyes of other powers, and turned away the hearts of your subjects. If you decide on removing so dangerous a man, you may dispose of my life; but if you cleave to him, I can be of no service to you in the execution of measures in which flattery, falsehood, and corruption are the most necessary qualifications." “ The empress,” Harris continues, who has treasured up this
was greatly affected by this extraordinary speech, confessed her belief in all he said of Potemkin, thanked him most fervently for his zealous offer, but said she could not endure the idea of such harsh treatment. She wished that the count would not think of leaving Petersburg, as she felt sure she should require his counsel and assistance."
Potemkin soon upset her resolutions by asserting that the Orlows had
gone over to the grand duke. Catherine was so weak as to insult Count Orlow seriously, and embittered both brothers to such a degree, that they spoke openly against her. This only drew her closer to Potemkin, who now began to carry out all his infernal designs. In the first place, he closed up all access to the empress, and then he pursued his machinations to get rid of Sievers, for he was jealous of his long and confidential correspondence with Catherine. Before long an opportunity was afforded him to sever the two old friends : Madame de Sievers refused to accompany her husband to Twer, and soon after quitted his roof for ever with Prince Putiätin, to whom she was eventually married. The empress mixed herself up in the matter very zealously, and certainly behaved with great injustice to Sievers. She had been gained over to the opposite party, and she would hear nothing he had to say. . He was condemned without the evidence being heard. In his fury, Sievers took a precipitate step, which utterly ruined him : before the arbitration was terminated he went to the house of one of his brothers-in-law, and carried off his three little daughters. This drew from the empress a very severe letter, in which she heaped reproaches on Sievers, and drove him nearly mad. Still, in the midst of his domestic misery, he did not neglect business ; but the determined way in which the empress thwarted his every wish, compelled him to demand his dismissal, which was eventually partially conceded. He gave up his governorship, but was obliged to retain the supervision of the water communication.
In the mean time the empress was more and more losing her taste for the administration of her kingdom, and her caprices drew from Potemkin the following just appreciation of her character: “She has sunk beyond all description ; never remains of the same opinion for a day; was unacquainted with the wants of her own kingdom; suspected her friends and trusted her enemies; was so jealous of her own opinion, that she would follow no advice that did not agree with it; she had become quite careless of renown, and only listened to the grossest flattery. In short, her character yielded to the first blast of passion, and healthy counsel and logical sequence were lost upon her." Sievers, indeed, grew so convinced of the fallacy of attempting to carry out any of the great designs he had at heart, that he begged for his entire dismissal, which was granted him, and he retired tranquilly to his estate in Livonia, whence he watched the progress of affairs with an aching heart.
With the death of Frederick the Great, Potemkin had full scope to carry out all his ambitious designs, and his first step was to subjugate the Crimea, which had been declared independent in the last treaty of Kutchuk-Kainardji
. In this campaign Potemkin displayed all his tigerlike propensities. Out of 50,000 fighting men the Crimea possessed, only 17,000 were left alive. The hero received the title of the Taurian, and, in addition to other presents, the Tauric palace. He also had an opportunity of pocketing three millions of roubles which the empress had given him for the administration of the new territory. When Catherine decided on her journey to the Crimea, he was obliged to confess the peculation, but the empress was so engrossed by him, that she advanced still larger sums, which he again appropriated. On the 7th of January, 1787, she swelled Potemkin's triumph by commencing her progress to the Crimea. At Cherson she was joined by the Emperor Joseph, who
accompanied her to the end of her journey. Ten millions of roubles were expended in festivities, and yet these were found insufficient. In 1798, the Turks were goaded into a declaration of war by the brutal conduct of Prince Bulgakow, and Potemkin assumed the command of the Ekatherinoslaw army. His exploits, however, were confined to the capture of the fortress of Otschakow, which nobly withstood him till the 17th of December of the same year. In the mean time, Russia was threatened on the other side by the Swedes, who prepared to attack Petersburg itself. In such a state of things Sievers could not remain quiet, and he addressed a long letter of advice to the empress,
followed by another soon after, in which he makes the following curious remark relative to Cronstadt :
I congratulate your majesty on the victory lately gained. Admiral Gregh fulfilled my expectations. But in my former letter, referring to the open roads to the capital, I forgot to speak of the most dangerous-namely, the shallows between Cronstadt and the Sisterberg; gun-boats could easily pass through these, and possibly half-galleys as well. I heard this from the late Admiral Mordwinow, when accident enabled me to see a ground chart of this portion of the gulf on his table. And will not such vessels pass between Cronstadt and the coast ? Pardon, most gracious lady, the zeal of your faithful subject.
Gustavus III. was betrayed by his nobles, and Russia saved from this danger. In the south the war terminated after the fourth campaign with the capture of Ismail, and Potemkin hurried to Petersburg to induce the empress to further his ambitious views of utterly destroying Turkey. He was most brilliantly received, but the empress was in great embarrassment. All the great powers were pressing her to terminate the war, while Potemkin wanted to carry it on. "His presence was, therefore, necessary with the army, but he could not make
She wished him away, but did not dare tell him so. So great was the terror of his name, that no one would venture to hand him his orders for departure. At length the empress took heart, and gave him directions to make peace at any price, and the order to depart at once. Strange to say, the violent man yielded without a word, and set out for the army at once.
In the mean while, Repnin, to whom he had entrusted the command of the army on his departure for Petersburg, had gained a brilliant victory over the Turks at Matschin. The grand vizier sued for peace, and Repnin signed the preliminaries at Galatz. The next day Potemkin arrived, and bitterly reproached Prince Repnin, who had gained such a magnificent victory for his country. Potemkin's plans were thus utterly thwarted. He felt that his charm was broken. The court, which had hitherto obeyed his nod, had dismissed him. Now the reins of the army even slipped from his grasp, and he had been building his boldest schemes for years on holding these. How far his plans went, who can say? People talk of princely berrets and royal, nay, imperial crowns, at which he aimed. He was capable of anything. He had gradually crushed or removed every one that stood in his path by that impudence peculiar to himself. He had exhausted the resources of the empire, and had gained possession of all the remaining strength. And for what purpose ? Evidently to deal a traitorous blow, for which his courage deserted him at the decisive moment. Catherine understood him thoroughly: she knew
what she might venture against him, and, when the hour arrived, threw him overboard with the greatest gentleness. Repnin would certainly not have acted as he did had he not been confirmed by privy instructions from his mistress.
Potemkin was forced to put up with everything. He could not even prevent the conclusion of the separate treaty between the Turks and the court of Vienna. He must even offer his assistance in paving the way for peace at Jassy. But his hour arrived before this was completed. He had appeared at Jassy with all the Oriental pomp in which he revelled. It was not difficult to foresee that such indulgences must overcome even a stronger man than himself, and it had been noticed, on his last visit to Petersburg, that he was strangely altered. When he arrived at Jassy, the Moldavian fever was raging there, and it attacked him too. Still this put no bounds on his luxurious course of life, as the best physicians recommended : he ate and drank all he thought proper. The restlessness which always tormented him now became insupportable, and drove him away from Jassy. But he had hardly travelled twenty miles before he asked to be lifted from his carriage.
beneath a tree. Here, in the arms of his niece, the Countess Branicka, who had lived with him for the last few years, the death overtook him which he had tried to fly from, on the 15th of October, 1791.
We really shudder on a closer examination of this man. We know not which most to admire, the man who, without any particular talent, managed to remain at the pinnacle of fortune for years with the dexterity of a rope-dancer; the empress, who, in spite of the cares and sorrow he ever occasioned her, looked with renewed satisfaction on the antics of the creature she had raised; or, lastly, the people who were robbed, oppressed, and trampled on by him, thousands of whom he led to death as victims of his hollow ambition and infertile vanity, and which yet treasures him in its memory as a national hero. The news of his death drew from Sievers the remark: “So then the fearful man, who once said in jest he would yet become a monk and archbishop, is dead ; but how? naturally ? or did Providence find an avenging hand ? or was it the Moldavian fever ?-a present of the land which he had rendered so miserable before he had the government of it.” We can see that in those days everything was thought possible.
And bere we must leave our Russian Statesman contented on his Sabine farm, until his oppressed country summons him once more to her aid. Up to the present, only two volumes of his mémoires pour servir to the History of Russia have been published, but so soon as the others have appeared, we shall return to the subject with great interest. We think, though, we have shown sufficiently that the life of such a man as Sievers deserved to be made known to the world.
THE ILLUSTRIOUS STRANGER;
A NIGHT AT MESS IN THE COLONIES.
MR. Brignt left the house of L., X., and Co. joyously enough one morning in 18— A bill just cashed, where money was wanted, gave a lightsome heart, and he descended the steps with a sort of triumphant bound and smiling countenance, as much as to say, “Well, 'tis all right now." He was just in the humour to do a generous act or to enjoy fun.
A group of four or five persons standing near the house-at first scarcely observed-presently attracted his notice. One amongst them was an acquaintance, the other a stranger. Yes, decidedly a new comer - a fresh arrival—an importation-quite a novel bale of goods.
Which side had been kept uppermost during the voyage 'twould have been hard to say. His head was of vast space, of the pumpkin form; his brow did not in the least “speak the nature of a tragic volume;" on the contrary, the general expression was exceedingly like “ long odds and long faces” in the Comic Annual, at the settling for “the Derby," after an outsider (say “Dangerous”) had won. Now the proportion of the brow to the remainder of the face was as the heel might be to the rest of a foot; his eye had o'er no particular expression “mastery,” though, as the sequel will show, it did * sound the parley of provocation;" for the trunk, or body (as they say in the riding-school), it was a fair medium between that of Falstaff and a certain lean apothecary described as riding on a white horse. If his face was not an index of his mind, perhaps his understandings were, for they were enormous! If Hogarth be taken as an index, and that the line of beauty be a curve, his legs were beautiful, from their convexity; they were no twinkling feet, his, but “made to tread, not skim the earth.”
Mr. Bright joined the group, and accosted the stranger, Mr. Longhead. Two Hottentots had that
morning, at an early hour, suffered the extreme penalty of the law on Gallows Point, near Imhoff Battery; their crime murder. Apparently their execution had formed the subject of conversation, for Mr. Longhead observed that “ he had never seen a man hung;" and shortly afterwards, when the topic turned upon a dinner-party, that “ he had never seen a military mess. Mr. Bright was in uniform, and in a bland, gentle, and winning manner expressed his extreme regretthat—"really—he could not promise to gratify his first desire at so short a notice-people were so infernally particular in these days; but as to the latter, he was sure that—(eagh!)—he should only be so-so glad if Mr. Longhead would do himself and brother officers the honour of-(eagh!)—dining with them—had a cook, really—(eagh !)—shall send you á regular invitation. Good morning—good morning, Mr. Longhead-good morning.”
At mess that night Mr. Bright did not fail to mention the oc