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Title: Peter the Great
Author: Abbott, Jacob, 1803-1879
Language: English
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Makers of History




With Engravings


New York and London
Harper & Brothers Publishers

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight
hundred and fifty-nine, by
Harper & Brothers,
In the Clerk's office of the District Court of the Southern District of
New York.

Copyright, 1887, by Benjamin Vaughan Abbott, Austin Abbott, Lyman
Abbott, and Edward Abbott.


There are very few persons who have not heard of the fame of Peter the
Great, the founder, as he is generally regarded by mankind, of Russian
civilization.  The celebrity, however, of the great Muscovite sovereign
among young persons is due in a great measure to the circumstance of
his having repaired personally to Holland, in the course of his efforts
to introduce the industrial arts among his people, in order to study
himself the art and mystery of shipbuilding, and of his having worked
with his own hands in a ship-yard there.  The little shop where Peter
pursued these practical studies still stands in Saardam, a
ship-building town not far from Amsterdam.  The building is of wood,
and is now much decayed; but, to preserve it from farther injury, it
has been incased in a somewhat larger building of brick, and it is
visited annually by great numbers of curious travelers.

The whole history of Peter, as might be expected from the indications
of character developed by this incident, forms a narrative that is full
of interest and instruction for all.

[Transcriber's note: In the original book, each page had a header
summarizing the contents of that page.  These headers have been
collected into introductory paragraphs at the start of each chapter.
The headers also contain the year in which the events on the page took
place.  These dates have been placed between the chapter title and the
introductory paragraph, in the form of a date range, e.g., for Chapter
I, "1676-1684."]





   PORTRAIT OF PETER . . . . . . . . . . . . _Frontispiece_.















Parentage of Peter--His father's double marriage--Death of his
father--The princesses--Their places of seclusion--Theodore and
John--Sophia uneasy in the convent--Her request--Her probable
motives--Her success--Increase of her influence--Jealousies--Parties
formed--The imperial guards--Their character and
influence--Dangers--Sophia and the soldiers--Sophia's continued
success--Death of Theodore--Peter proclaimed--Plots formed by
Sophia--Revolution--Means of exciting the people--Poisoning--Effect of
the stories that were circulating--Peter and his mother--The Monastery of
the Trinity--Natalia's flight--Narrow escape of Peter--Commotion in the
city--Sophia is unsuccessful--Couvansky's schemes--Sophia's attempt to
appease the soldiers--No effect produced--Couvansky's views--His plan of
a marriage for his son--Indignation of Sophia--A stratagem--Couvansky
falls into the snare--Excitement produced by his
death--Galitzin--Measures adopted by him--They are successful

The circumstances under which Peter the Great came to the throne form a
very remarkable--indeed, in some respects, quite a romantic story.

The name of his father, who reigned as Emperor of Russia from 1645 to
1676, was Alexis Michaelowitz.  In the course of his life, this Emperor
Alexis was twice married.  By his first wife he had two sons, whose names
were Theodore and John,[1] and four daughters.  The names of the
daughters were Sophia, Catharine, Mary, and Sediassa.  By his second wife
he had two children--a son and a daughter.  The name of the son was
Peter, and that of the daughter was Natalia Alexowna.  Of all these
children, those with whom we have most to do are the two oldest sons,
Theodore and John, and the oldest daughter, Sophia, by the first wife;
and Peter, the oldest son by the second wife, the hero of this history.
The name of the second wife, Peter's mother, was Natalia.

Of course, Theodore, at his father's death, was heir to the throne.  Next
to him in the line of succession came John; and next after John came
Peter, the son of the second wife; for, by the ancient laws and usages of
the Muscovite monarchy, the daughters were excluded from the succession
altogether.  Indeed, not only were the daughters excluded themselves from
the throne, but special precautions were taken to prevent their ever
having sons to lay claim to it.  They were forbidden to marry, and, in
order to make it impossible that they should ever violate this rule, they
were all placed in convents before they arrived at a marriageable age,
and were compelled to pass their lives there in seclusion.  Of course,
the convents where these princesses were lodged were very richly and
splendidly endowed, and the royal inmates enjoyed within the walls every
comfort and luxury which could possibly be procured for them in such
retreats, and which could tend in any measure to reconcile them to being
forever debarred from all the pleasures of love and the sweets of
domestic life.

Now it so happened that both Theodore and John were feeble and sickly
children, while Peter was robust and strong.  The law of descent was,
however, inexorable, and, on the death of Alexis, Theodore ascended to
the throne.  Besides, even if it had been possible to choose among the
sons of Alexis, Peter was at this time altogether too young to reign, for
at his father's death he was only about four years old.  He was born in
1672, and his father died in 1676.

Theodore was at this time about sixteen.  Of course, however, being so
young, and his health being so infirm, he could not take any active part
in the administration of government, but was obliged to leave every thing
in the hands of his counselors and ministers of state, who managed
affairs as they thought proper, though they acted always in Theodore's

There were a great many persons who were ambitious of having a share of
the power which the young Czar thus left in the hands of his
subordinates; and, among these, perhaps the most ambitious of all was the
Princess Sophia, Theodore's sister, who was all this time shut up in the
convent to which the rules and regulations of imperial etiquette
consigned her.  She was very uneasy in this confinement, and wished very
much to get released, thinking that if she could do so she should be able
to make herself of considerable consequence in the management of public
affairs.  So she made application to the authorities to be allowed to go
to the palace to see and take care of her brother in his sickness.  This
application was at length complied with, and Sophia went to the palace.
Here she devoted herself with so much assiduity to the care of her
brother, watching constantly at his bedside, and suffering no one to
attend upon him or to give him medicines but herself, that she won not
only his heart, but the hearts of all the nobles of the court, by her
seemingly disinterested sisterly affection.

Indeed, it is not by any means impossible that Sophia might have been at
first disinterested and sincere in her desire to minister to the wants of
her brother, and to solace and comfort him in his sickness.  But, however
this may have been at the outset, the result was that, after a time, she
acquired so much popularity and influence that she became quite an
important personage at court.  She was a very talented and accomplished
young woman, and was possessed, moreover, of a strong and masculine
character.  Yet she was very agreeable and insinuating in her manners;
and she conversed so affably, and at the same time so intelligently, with
all the grandees of the empire, as they came by turns to visit her
brother in his sick chamber, that they all formed a very high estimate of
her character.

She also obtained a great ascendency over the mind of Theodore himself,
and this, of itself, very much increased her importance in the eyes of
the courtiers.  They all began to think that, if they wished to obtain
any favor of the emperor, it was essential that they should stand well
with the princess.  Thus every one, finding how fast she was rising in
influence, wished to have the credit of being her earliest and most
devoted friend; so they all vied with each other in efforts to aid in
aggrandizing her.

Things went on in this way very prosperously for a time; but at length,
as might have been anticipated, suspicions and jealousies began to arise,
and, after a time, the elements of a party opposed to the princess began
to be developed.  These consisted chiefly of the old nobles of the
empire, the heads of the great families who had been accustomed, under
the emperors, to wield the chief power of the state.  These persons were
naturally jealous of the ascendency which they saw that the princess was
acquiring, and they began to plot together in order to devise means for
restricting or controlling it.

But, besides these nobles, there was another very important power at the
imperial court at this time, namely, the army.  In all despotic
governments, it is necessary for the sovereign to have a powerful
military force under his command, to maintain him in his place; and it is
necessary for him to keep this force as separate and independent as
possible from the people.  There was in Russia at this time a very
powerful body of troops, which had been organized by the emperors, and
was maintained by them as an imperial guard.  The name of this body of
troops was the Strelitz; but, in order not to encumber the narrative
unnecessarily with foreign words, I shall call them simply the Guards.

Of course, a body of troops like these, organized and maintained by a
despotic dynasty for the express purpose, in a great measure, of
defending the sovereign against his subjects, becomes in time a very
important element of power in the state.  The officers form a class by
themselves, separate from, and jealous of the nobles of the country; and
this state of things has often led to very serious collisions and
outbreaks.  The guards have sometimes proved too strong for the dynasty
that created them, and have made their own generals the real monarchs of
the country.  When such a state of things as this exists, the government
which results is called a military despotism.  This happened in the days
of the Roman empire.  The army, which was originally formed by the
regular authorities of the country, and kept for a time in strict
subjection to them, finally became too powerful to be held any longer
under control, and they made their own leading general emperor for many
successive reigns, thus wholly subverting the republic which originally
organized and maintained them.

It was such a military body as this which now possessed great influence
and power at Moscow.  The Princess Sophia, knowing how important it would
be to her to secure the influence of such a power upon her side, paid
great attention to the officers, and omitted nothing in her power which
was calculated to increase her popularity with the whole corps.  The
result was that the Guards became her friends, while a great many of the
old nobles were suspicious and jealous of her, and were beginning to
devise means to curtail her increasing influence.

But, notwithstanding all that they could do, the influence of Sophia
increased continually, until the course of public affairs came to be, in
fact, almost entirely under her direction.  The chief minister of state
was a certain Prince Galitzin, who was almost wholly devoted to her
interests.  Indeed, it was through her influence that he was appointed to
his office.  Things continued in this state for about six years, and
then, at length, Theodore was taken suddenly sick.  It soon became
evident that he could not live.  On his dying bed he designated Peter as
his successor, passing over his brother John.  The reason for this was
that John was so extremely feeble and infirm that he seemed to be wholly
unfit to reign over such an empire.  Besides various other maladies under
which he suffered, he was afflicted with epilepsy, a disease which
rendered it wholly unsuitable that he should assume any burdens whatever
of responsibility and care.

It is probable that it was through the influence of some of the nobles
who were opposed to Sophia that Theodore was induced thus to designate
Peter as his successor.  However this may be, Peter, though then only ten
years old, was proclaimed emperor by the nobles immediately after
Theodore's death.  Sophia was much disappointed, and became greatly
indignant at these proceedings.  John was her own brother, while Peter,
being a son of the second wife, was only her half-brother.  John, too, on
account of his feeble health, would probably never be able to take any
charge of the government, and she thought that, if he had been allowed to
succeed Theodore, she herself might have retained the real power in her
hands, as regent, as long as she lived; whereas Peter promised to have
strength and vigor to govern the empire himself in a few years, and, in
the mean time, while he remained in his minority, it was natural to
expect that he would be under the influence of persons connected with his
own branch of the family, who would be hostile to her, and that thus her
empire would come to an end.

So she determined to resist the transfer of the supreme power to Peter.
She secretly engaged the Guards on her side.  The commander-in-chief of
the Guards was an officer named Couvansky.  He readily acceded to her
proposals, and, in conjunction with him, she planned and organized a

In order to exasperate the people and the Guards, and excite them to the
proper pitch of violence, Sophia and Couvansky spread a report that the
late emperor had not died a natural death, but had been poisoned.  This
murder had been committed, they said, by a party who hoped, by setting
Theodore and his brother John aside, to get the power into their hands in
the name of Peter, whom they intended to make emperor, in violation of
the rights of John, Theodore's true heir.  There was a plan also formed,
they said, to poison all the principal officers of the Guards, who, the
conspirators knew, would oppose their wicked proceedings, and perhaps
prevent the fulfillment of them if they were not put out of the way.  The
poison by which Theodore had been put to death was administered, they
said, by two physicians who attended upon him in his sickness, and who
had been bribed to give him poison with his medicine.  The Guards were to
have been destroyed by means of poison, which was to have been mixed with
the brandy and the beer that was distributed to them on the occasion of
the funeral.

These stories produced a great excitement among the Guards, and also
among a considerable portion of the people of Moscow.  The guards came
out into the streets and around the palaces in great force.  They first
seized the two physicians who were accused of having poisoned the
emperor, and killed them on the spot.  Then they took a number of nobles
of high rank, and officers of state, who were supposed to be the leaders
of the party in favor of Peter, and the instigators of the murder of
Theodore, and, dragging them out into the public squares, slew them
without mercy.  Some they cut to pieces.  Others they threw down from the
wall of the imperial palace upon the soldiers' pikes below, which the men
held up for the purpose of receiving them.

Peter was at this time with his mother in the palace.  Natalia was
exceedingly alarmed, not for herself, but for her son.  As soon as the
revolution broke out she made her escape from the palace, and set out
with Peter in her arms to fly to a celebrated family retreat of the
emperor's, called the Monastery of the Trinity.  This monastery was a
sort of country palace of the Czar's, which, besides being a pleasant
rural retreat, was also, from its religious character, a sanctuary where
fugitives seeking refuge in it might, under all ordinary circumstances,
feel themselves beyond the reach of violence and of every species of
hostile molestation.

Natalia fled with Peter and a few attendants to this refuge, hotly
pursued, however, all the way by a body of the Guards.  If the fugitives
had been overtaken on the way, both mother and son would doubtless have
been cut to pieces without mercy.  As it was, they very narrowly escaped,
for when Natalia arrived at the convent the soldiers were close upon her.
Two of them followed her in before the doors could be closed.  Natalia
rushed into the church, which formed the centre of the convent inclosure,
and took refuge with her child at the foot of the altar.  The soldiers
pursued her there, brandishing their swords, and were apparently on the
point of striking the fatal blow; but the sacredness of the place seemed
to arrest them at the last moment, and, after pausing an instant with
their uplifted swords in their hands, and uttering imprecations against
their victims for having thus escaped them, they sullenly retired.

In the mean time the commotion in the city went on, and for several days
no one could foresee how it would end.  At length a sort of compromise
was effected, and it was agreed by the two parties that John should be
proclaimed Czar, not alone, but in conjunction with his brother Peter,
the regency to remain for the present, as it had been, in the hands of
Sophia.  Thus Sophia really gained all her ends; for the retaining of
Peter's name, as nominally Czar in conjunction with his brother, was of
no consequence, since her party had proved itself the strongest in the
struggle, and all the real power remained in her hands.  She had obtained
this triumph mainly through Couvansky and the Guards; and now, having
accomplished her purposes by means of their military violence, she
wished, of course, that they should retire to their quarters, and resume
their habits of subordination, and of submission to the civil authority.
But this they would not do.  Couvansky, having found how important a
personage he might become through the agency of the terrible organization
which was under his direction and control, was not disposed at once to
lay aside his power; and the soldiers, intoxicated with the delights of
riot and pillage, could not now be easily restrained.  Sophia found, as a
great many other despotic rulers have done in similar cases, that she had
evoked a power which she could not now control.  Couvansky and the troops
under his command continued their ravages in the city, plundering the
rich houses of every thing that could gratify their appetites and
passions, and murdering all whom they imagined to belong to the party
opposed to them.

Sophia first tried to appease them and reduce them to order by
conciliatory measures.  From the Monastery of the Trinity, to which she
had herself now retreated for safety, she sent a message to Couvansky and
to the other chiefs of the army, thanking them for the zeal which they
had shown in revenging the death of her brother, the late emperor, and in
vindicating the rights of the true successor, John, and promising to
remember, and in due time to reward, the great services which they had
rendered to the state.  She added that, now, since the end which they all
had in view in the movement which they had made had been entirely and
happily accomplished, the soldiers should be restrained from any farther
violence, and recalled to their quarters.

This message had no effect.  Indeed, Couvansky, finding how great the
power was of the corps which he commanded, began to conceive the idea
that he might raise himself to the supreme command.  He thought that the
Guards were all devoted to him, and would do whatever he required of
them.  He held secret conferences with the principal officers under his
command, and endeavored to prepare their minds for the revolution which
he contemplated by representing to them that neither of the princes who
had been proclaimed were fit to reign.  John, he said, was almost an
imbecile, on account of the numerous and hopeless bodily infirmities to
which he was subject.  Peter was yet a mere boy; and then, besides, even
when he should become a man, he would very likely be subject to the same
diseases with his brother.  These men would never have either the
intelligence to appreciate or the power to reward such services as the
Guards were capable of rendering to the state; whereas he, their
commander, and one of their own body, would be both able and disposed to
do them ample justice.

Couvansky also conceived the design of securing and perpetuating the
power which he hoped thus to acquire through the army by a marriage of
his son with one of the princesses of the imperial family.  He selected
Catharine, who was Sophia's sister--the one next in age to her--for the
intended bride.  He cautiously proposed this plan to Sophia, hoping that
she might be induced to approve and favor it, in which case he thought
that every obstacle would be removed from his way, and the ends of his
ambition would be easily and permanently attained.

But Sophia was perfectly indignant at such a proposal.  It seemed to her
the height of presumption and audacity for a mere general in the army to
aspire to a connection by marriage with the imperial family, and to a
transfer, in consequence, of the supreme power to himself and to his
descendants forever.  She resolved immediately to adopt vigorous measures
to defeat these schemes in the most effectual manner.  She determined to
kill Couvansky.  But, as the force which he commanded was so great that
she could not hope to accomplish any thing by an open contest, she
concluded to resort to stratagem.  She accordingly pretended to favor
Couvansky's plans, and seemed to be revolving in her mind the means of
carrying them into effect.  Among other things, she soon announced a
grand celebration of the Princess Catharine's fête-day, to be held at the
Monastery of the Trinity, and invited Couvansky to attend it.[2]
Couvansky joyfully accepted this invitation, supposing that the occasion
would afford him an admirable opportunity to advance his views in respect
to his son.  So Couvansky, accompanied by his son, set out on the
appointed day from Moscow to proceed to the monastery.  Not suspecting
any treachery, he was accompanied by only a small escort.  On the road he
was waylaid by a body of two hundred horsemen, whom Galitzin, Sophia's
minister of state, had sent to the spot.  Couvansky's guard was at once
overpowered, and both he and his son were taken prisoners.  They were
hurried at once to a house, where preparations for receiving them had
already been made, and there, without any delay, sentence of death
against them both, on a charge of treason, was read to them, and their
heads were cut off on the spot.

The news of this execution spread with great rapidity, and it produced,
of course, an intense excitement and commotion among all the Guards as
fast as it became known to them.  They threatened vengeance against the
government for having thus assassinated, as they expressed it, their
chief and father.  They soon put themselves in motion, and began
murdering, plundering, and destroying more furiously than ever.  The
violence which they displayed led to a reaction.  A party was formed,
even among the Guards, of persons that were disposed to discountenance
these excesses, and even to submit to the government.  The minister
Galitzin took advantage of these dissensions to open a communication with
those who were disposed to return to their duty.  He managed the affair
so well that, in the end, the great body of the soldiers were brought
over, and, finally, they themselves, of their own accord, slew the
officers who had been most active in the revolt, and offered their heads
to the minister in token of their submission.  They also implored pardon
of the government for the violence and excess into which they had been
led.  Of course, this pardon was readily granted.  The places of
Couvansky and of the other officers who had been slain were filled by new
appointments, who were in the interest of the Princess Sophia, and the
whole corps returned to their duty.  Order was now soon fully restored in
Moscow, rendering it safe for Sophia and her court to leave the monastery
and return to the royal palace in the town.  Galitzin was promoted to a
higher office, and invested with more extended powers than he had yet
held, and Sophia found herself finally established as the real sovereign
of the country, though, of course, she reigned, in the name of her

[1] The Russian form of these names is Foedor [Transcriber's note:
Feodor?] and Ivan.

[2] These celebrations were somewhat similar to the birthday celebrations
of England and America, only the day on which they were held was not the
birth-day of the lady, but the fête-day, as it was called, of her patron
saint--that is, of the saint whose name she bore.  All the names for
girls used in those countries where the Greek or the Catholic Church
prevails are names of saints, each one of whom has in the calendar a
certain day set apart as her fête-day.  Each girl considers the saint
from whom she is named as her patron saint, and the fête-day of this
saint, instead of her own birth-day, is the anniversary which is
celebrated in honor of her.




Sophia at the height of her power--Military expeditions--The Cham of
Tartary--Mazeppa--Origin and history--His famous punishment--Subsequent
history--The war unsuccessful--Sophia's artful policy--Rewards and
honors to the army--The opposition--Their plans--Reasons for the
proposed marriage--The intended wife--Motives of politicians--Results
of Peter's marriage--Peter's country house--Return of Galitzin--The
princess's alarm--The Cossacks--Sophia's plot--The commander of the
Guards--Prince Galitzin--Details of the plot--Manner in which the plot
was discovered--Messengers dispatched--The sentinels--The detachment
arrives--Peter's place of refuge--Sophia's pretenses--The
Guards--Sophia attempts to secure them--They adhere to the cause of
Peter--Sophia's alarm--Her first deputation--Failure of the
deputation--Sophia appeals to the patriarch--His mission
fails--Sophia's despair--Her final plans--She is repulsed from the
monastery--The surrender of Thekelavitaw demanded--He is brought to
trial--He is put to the torture--His confessions--Value of them--Modes
of torture applied--Various punishments inflicted--Galitzin is
banished--His son shares his fate--Punishment of Thekelavitaw--Decision
in respect to Sophia--Peter's public entry into Moscow--He gains sole
power--Character and condition of John--Subsequent history of Sophia

The Princess Sophia was now in full possession of power, so that she
reigned supreme in the palaces and in the capital, while, of course,
the ordinary administration of the affairs of state, and the relations
of the empire with foreign nations, were left to Galitzin and the other
ministers.  It was in 1684 that she secured possession of this power,
and in 1689 her regency came to an end, so that she was, in fact, the
ruler of the Russian empire for a period of about five years.

During this time one or two important military expeditions were set on
foot by her government.  The principal was a campaign in the southern
part of the empire for the conquest of the Crimea, which country,
previous to that time, had belonged to the Turks.  Poland was at that
period a very powerful kingdom, and the Poles, having become involved
in a war with the Turks, proposed to the Russians, or Muscovites, as
they were then generally called, to join them in an attempt to conquer
the Crimea.  The Tartars who inhabited the Crimea and the country to
the northeastward of it were on the side of the Turks, so that the
Russians had two enemies to contend with.

The supreme ruler of the Tartars was a chieftain called a Cham.  He was
a potentate of great power and dignity, superior, indeed, to the Czars
who ruled in Muscovy.  In fact, there had been an ancient treaty by
which this superiority of the Cham was recognized and acknowledged in a
singular way--one which illustrates curiously the ideas and manners of
those times.  The treaty stipulated, among other things, that whenever
the Czar and the Cham should chance to meet, the Czar should hold the
Cham's stirrup while he mounted his horse, and also feed the horse with
oats out of his cap.

In the war between the Muscovites and the Tartars for the possession of
the Crimea, a certain personage appeared, who has since been made very
famous by the poetry of Byron.  It was Mazeppa, the unfortunate
chieftain whose frightful ride through the tangled thickets of an
uncultivated country, bound naked to a wild horse, was described with
so much graphic power by the poet, and has been so often represented in
paintings and engravings.

Mazeppa was a Polish gentleman.  He was brought up as a page in the
family of the King of Poland.  When he became a man he mortally
offended a certain Polish nobleman by some improprieties in which he
became involved with the nobleman's wife.  The husband caused him to be
seized and cruelly scourged, and then to be bound upon the back of a
wild, ungovernable horse.  When all was ready the horse was turned
loose upon the Ukrain, and, terrified with the extraordinary burden
which he felt upon his back, and uncontrolled by bit or rein, he rushed
madly on through the wildest recesses of the forest, until at length he
fell down exhausted with terror and fatigue.  Some Cossack peasants
found and rescued Mazeppa, and took care of him in one of their huts
until he recovered from his wounds.

Mazeppa was a well-educated man, and highly accomplished in the arts of
war as they were practiced in those days.  He soon acquired great
popularity among the Cossacks, and, in the end, rose to be a chieftain
among them, and he distinguished himself greatly in these very
campaigns in the Crimea, fought by the Muscovites against the Turks and
Tartars during the regency of the Princess Sophia.

If the war thus waged by the government of the empress had been
successful, it would have greatly strengthened the position of her
party in Moscow, and increased her own power; but it was not
successful.  Prince Galitzin, who had the chief command of the
expedition, was obliged, after all, to withdraw his troops from the
country, and make a very unsatisfactory peace; but he did not dare to
allow the true result of the expedition to be known in Moscow, for fear
of the dissatisfaction which, he felt convinced, would be occasioned
there by such intelligence; and the distance was so great, and the
means of communication in those days were so few, that it was
comparatively easy to falsify the accounts.  So, after he had made
peace with the Tartars, and began to draw off his army, he sent
couriers to Moscow to the Czars, and also to the King in Poland, with
news of great victories which he had obtained against the Tartars, of
conquests which he made in their territories, and of his finally having
compelled them to make peace on terms extremely favorable.  The
Princess Sophia, as soon as this news reached her in Moscow, ordered
that arrangements should be made for great public rejoicings throughout
the empire on account of the victories which had been obtained.
According to the custom, too, of the Muscovite government, in cases
where great victories had been won, the council drew up a formal letter
of thanks and commendations to the officers and soldiers of the army,
and sent it to them by a special messenger, with promotions and other
honors for the chiefs, and rewards in money for the men.  The princess
and her government hoped, by these means, to conceal the bad success of
their enterprise, and to gain, instead of losing, credit and strength
with the people.

But during all this time a party opposed to Sophia and her plans had
been gradually forming, and it was now increasing in numbers and
influence every day.  The men of this party naturally gathered around
Peter, intending to make him their leader.  Peter had now grown up to
be a young man.  In the next chapter we shall give some account of the
manner in which his childhood and early youth were spent; but he was
now about eighteen years old, and the party who adhered to him formed
the plan of marrying him.  So they proceeded to choose him a wife.

The reasons which led them to advocate this measure were, of course,
altogether political.  They thought that if Peter were to be married,
and to have children, all the world would see that the crown must
necessarily descend in his family, since John had no children, and he
was so sickly and feeble that it was not probable that even he himself
would long survive.  They knew very well, therefore, that the marriage
of Peter and the birth of an heir would turn all men's thoughts to him
as the real personage whose favor it behooved them to cultivate; and
this, they supposed, would greatly increase his importance, and so add
to the strength of the party that acted in his name.

It turned out just as they had anticipated.  The wife whom the
councilors chose for Peter was a young lady of noble birth, the
daughter of one of the great boiars, as they were called, of the
empire.  Her name was Ottokessa Federowna.  The Princess Sophia did all
in her power to prevent the match, but her efforts were of no avail.
Peter was married, and the event greatly increased his importance among
the nobles and among the people, and augmented the power and influence
of his party.  In all cases of this kind, where a contest is going on
between rival claimants to a throne, or rival dynasties, there are some
persons, though not many, who are governed in their conduct, in respect
to the side which they take, by principles of honor and duty, and of
faithful adherence to what they suppose to be the right.  But a vast
majority of courtiers and politicians in all countries and in all ages
are only anxious to find out, not which side is right, but which is
likely to be successful.  Accordingly, in this case, as the marriage of
Peter made it still more probable than it was before that he would in
the end secure to his branch of the family the supreme power, it
greatly increased the tendency among the nobles to pay their court to
him and to his friends.  This tendency was still more strengthened by
the expectation which soon after arose, that Peter's wife was about to
give birth to a son.  The probability of the appearance of a son and
heir on Peter's side, taken in connection with the hopeless
childlessness of John, seemed to turn the scales entirely in favor of
Peter's party.  This was especially the case in respect to all the
young nobles as they successively arrived at an age to take an interest
in public affairs.  All these young men seemed to despise the
imbecility, and the dark and uncertain prospects of John, and to be
greatly charmed with the talents and energy of Peter, and with the
brilliant future which seemed to be opening before him.  Thus even the
nobles who still adhered to the cause of Sophia and of John had the
mortification to find that their sons, as fast as they came of age, all
went over to the other side.

Peter lived at this time with his young wife at a certain country
palace belonging to him, situated on the banks of a small river a few
miles from Moscow.  The name of this country-seat was Obrogensko.

Such was the state of things at Moscow when Prince Galitzin returned
from his campaigns in the Crimea.  The prince found that the power of
Sophia and her party was rapidly waning, and that Sophia herself was in
a state of great anxiety and excitement in respect to the future.  The
princess gave Galitzin a very splendid reception, and publicly rewarded
him for his pretended success in the war by bestowing upon him great
and extraordinary honors.  Still many people were very suspicious of
the truth of the accounts which were circulated.  The partisans of
Peter called for proofs that the victories had really been won.  Prince
Galitzin brought with him to the capital a considerable force of
Cossacks, with Mazeppa at their head.  The Cossacks had never before
been allowed to come into Moscow; but now, Sophia having formed a
desperate plan to save herself from the dangers that surrounded her,
and knowing that these men would unscrupulously execute any commands
that were given to them by their leaders, directed Galitzin to bring
them within the walls, under pretense to do honor to Mazeppa for the
important services which he had rendered during the war.  But this
measure was very unpopular with the people, and, although the Cossacks
were actually brought within the walls, they were subjected to such
restrictions there that, after all, Sophia could not employ them for
the purpose of executing her plot, but was obliged to rely on the
regular Muscovite troops of the imperial Guard.

The plot which she formed was nothing else than the assassination of
Peter.  She saw no other way by which she could save herself from the
dangers which surrounded her, and make sure of retaining her power.
Her brother, the Czar John, was growing weaker and more insignificant
every day; while Peter and his party, who looked upon her, she knew,
with very unfriendly feelings, were growing stronger and stronger.  If
Peter continued to live, her speedy downfall, she was convinced, was
sure.  She accordingly determined that Peter should die.

The commander-in-chief of the Guards at this time was a man named
Theodore Thekelavitaw.  He had been raised to this exalted post by
Sophia herself on the death of Couvansky.  She had selected him for
this office with special reference to his subserviency to her
interests.  She determined now, accordingly, to confide to him the
execution of her scheme for the assassination of Peter.

When Sophia proposed her plan to Prince Galitzin, he was at first
strongly opposed to it, on account of the desperate danger which would
attend such an undertaking.  But she urged upon him so earnestly the
necessity of the case, representing to him that unless some very
decisive measures were adopted, not only would she herself soon be
deposed from power, but that he and all his family and friends would be
involved in the same common ruin, he at length reluctantly consented.

The plan was at last fully matured.  Thekelavitaw, the commander of the
Guards, selected six hundred men to go with him to Obrogensko.  They
were to go in the night, the plan being to seize Peter in his bed.
When the appointed night arrived, the commander marshaled his men and
gave them their instructions, and the whole body set out upon their
march to Obrogensko with every prospect of successfully accomplishing
the undertaking.

But the whole plan was defeated in a very remarkable manner.  While the
commander was giving his instructions to the men, two of the soldiers,
shocked with the idea of being made the instruments of such a crime,
stole away unobserved in the darkness, and ran with all possible speed
to Obrogensko to warn Peter of his danger.  Peter leaped from his bed
in consternation, and immediately sent to the apartments where his
uncles, the brothers of his mother, were lodging, to summon them to
come to him.  When they came, a hurried consultation was held.  There
was some doubt in the minds of Peter's uncles whether the story which
the soldiers told was to be believed.  They thought it could not
possibly be true that so atrocious a crime could be contemplated by
Sophia.  Accordingly, before taking any measures for sending Peter and
his family away, they determined to send messengers toward the city to
ascertain whether any detachment of Guards was really coming toward

These messengers set off at once; but, before they had reached half way
to Moscow, they met Thekelavitaw's detachment of Guards, with
Thekelavitaw himself at the head of them, stealing furtively along the
road.  The messengers hid themselves by the wayside until the troop had
gone by.  Then hurrying away round by a circuitous path, they got
before the troop again, and reached the palace before the assassins
arrived.  Peter had just time to get into a coach, with his wife, his
sister, and one or two other members of his family, and to drive away
from the palace before Thekelavitaw, with his band, arrived.  The
sentinels who were on duty at the gates of the palace had been much
surprised at the sudden departure of Peter and his family, and now they
were astonished beyond measure at the sudden appearance of so large a
body of their comrades arriving at midnight, without any warning, from
the barracks in Moscow.

[Illustration: The escape.]

Immediately on his arrival at the palace, Thekelavitaw's men searched
every where for Peter, but of course could not find him.  They then
questioned the sentinels, and were told that Peter had left the palace
with his family in a very hurried manner but a very short time before.
No one knew where they had gone.

There was, of course, nothing now for Thekelavitaw to do but to return,
discomfited and alarmed, to the Princess Sophia, and report the failure
of their scheme.

In the mean time Peter had fled to the Monastery of the Trinity, the
common refuge of the family in all cases of desperate danger.  The news
of the affair spread rapidly, and produced universal excitement.
Peter, from his retreat in the monastery, sent a message to Sophia,
charging her with having sent Thekelavitaw and his band to take his
life.  Sophia was greatly alarmed at the turn which things had taken.
She, however, strenuously denied being guilty of the charge which Peter
made against her.  She said that the soldiers under Thekelavitaw had
only gone out to Obrogensko for the purpose of relieving the guard.
This nobody believed.  The idea of taking such a body of men a league
or more into the country at midnight for the purpose of relieving the
guard of a country palace was preposterous.

The excitement increased.  The leading nobles of the country began to
flock to the monastery to declare their adhesion to Peter, and their
determination to sustain and protect him.  Sophia, at the same time,
did all that she could do to rally her friends.  Both sides endeavored
to gain the good-will of the Guards.  The princess caused them to be
assembled before her palace in Moscow, and there she appeared on a
balcony before them, accompanied by the Czar John; and the Czar made
them a speech--one, doubtless, which Sophia had prepared for him.  In
this speech John stated to the Guards that his brother Peter had
retired to the Monastery of the Trinity, though for what reason he knew
not.  He had, however, too much reason to fear, he said, that he was
plotting some schemes against the state.

"We have heard," he added, "that he has summoned you to repair thither
and attend him, but we forbid your going on pain of death."

Sophia then herself addressed the Guards, confirming what John had
said, and endeavoring artfully to awaken an interest in their minds in
her favor.  The Guards listened in silence; but it seems that very
little effect was produced upon them by these harangues, for they
immediately afterward marched in a body to the monastery, and there
publicly assured Peter of their adhesion to his cause.

Sophia was now greatly alarmed.  She began to fear that all was lost.
She determined to send an embassage to Peter to deprecate his
displeasure, and, if possible, effect a reconciliation.  She employed
on this commission two of her aunts, her father's sisters, who were, of
course, the aunts likewise of Peter, and the nearest family relatives,
who were equally the relatives of herself and of him.  These ladies
were, of course, princesses of very high rank, and their age and family
connection were such as to lead Sophia to trust a great deal to their

She charged these ladies to assure Peter that she was entirely innocent
of the crime of which she was suspected, and that the stories of her
having sent the soldiers to his palace with any evil design were
fabricated by her enemies, who wished to sow dissension between herself
and him.  She assured him that there had been no necessity at all for
his flight, and that he might now at any time return to Moscow with
perfect safety.

Peter received his aunts in a very respectful manner, and listened
attentively to what they had to say; but, after they had concluded
their address to him, he assured them that his retreat to the monastery
was not without good cause: and he proceeded to state and explain all
the circumstances of the case, and to show so many and such conclusive
proofs that a conspiracy to destroy him had actually been formed, and
was on the eve of being executed, that the princesses could no longer
doubt that Sophia was really guilty.  They were overwhelmed with grief
in coming to this conviction, and they declared, with tears in their
eyes, that they would not return to Moscow, but would remain at the
monastery and share the fortunes of their nephew.

When Sophia learned what had been the result of her deputation she was
more alarmed than ever.  After spending some time in perplexity and
distress, she determined to apply to the patriarch, who was the head of
the Church, and, of course, the highest ecclesiastical dignitary in the
empire.  She begged and implored him to act as mediator between her and
her brother, and he was at length so moved by her tears and entreaties
that he consented to go.

This embassage was no more successful than the other.  Peter, it seems,
was provided with proof, which he offered to the patriarch, not only of
the reality of the conspiracy which had been formed, but also of the
fact that, if it had been successful, the patriarch himself was to have
been taken off, in order that another ecclesiastic more devoted to
Sophia's interests might be put in his place.  The patriarch was
astonished and shocked at this intelligence, and was so much alarmed by
it that he did not dare to return to Sophia to make his report, and
decided, as the ladies had done before him, to take up his abode with
Peter in the monastery until the crisis should be passed.

The princess was now almost in a state of despair.  Prince Galitzin, it
is true, still remained with her, and there were some others in the
palace who adhered to her cause.  She called these few remaining
friends together, and with them held a sorrowful and anxious
consultation, in order to determine what should now be done.  It was
resolved that Thekelavitaw and one or two others who were deeply
implicated in the plot for the assassination of Peter should be secured
in a place of close concealment in the palace, and then, that the
princess herself, accompanied by Galitzin and her other leading
friends, should proceed in a body to the Monastery of the Trinity, and
there make a personal appeal to Peter, in hopes of appeasing him, and
saving themselves, if possible, from their impending fate.  This plan
they proceeded to carry into effect; but before Sophia, and those who
were with her, had reached half way to the palace, they were met by a
nobleman who had been sent from the monastery to intercept them, and
order them, in Peter's name, to return to Moscow.  If the princess were
to go on, she would not be received at the monastery, the messenger
said, but would find the gates closed against her.

So Sophia and her train turned, and despairingly retraced their steps
to Moscow.

The next day an officer, at the head of a body of the Guards three
hundred in number, was dispatched from the monastery to demand of the
Princess Sophia, at her palace, that she should give up Thekelavitaw,
in order that he might be brought to trial on a charge of treason.
Sophia was extremely unwilling to comply with this demand.  She may
naturally be supposed to have desired to save her instrument and agent
from suffering the penalties of the crime which she herself had planned
and had instigated him to attempt; but the chief source of her extreme
reluctance to surrender the prisoner was her fear of the revelations
which he would be likely to make implicating her.  After hesitating for
a time, being in a state during the interval of great mental distress
and anguish, she concluded that she must obey, and so Thekelavitaw was
brought out from his retreat and surrendered.  The soldiers immediately
took him and some other persons who were surrendered with him, and,
securing them safely with irons, they conveyed them rapidly to the

Thekelavitaw was brought to trial in the great hall of the monastery,
where a court, consisting of the leading nobles, was organized to hear
his cause.  He was questioned closely by his judges for a long time,
but his answers were evasive and unsatisfactory, and at length it was
determined to put him to torture, in order to compel him to confess his
crime, and to reveal the names of his confederates.  This was a very
unjust and cruel mode of procedure, but it was in accordance with the
rude ideas which prevailed in those times.

The torture which was applied to Thekelavitaw was scourging with a
knout.  The knout was a large and strong whip, the lash of which
consists of a tough, thick thong of leather, prepared in a particular
way, so as greatly to increase the intensity of the agony caused by the
blows inflicted with it.  Thekelavitaw endured a few strokes from this
dreadful instrument, and then declared that he was ready to confess
all; so they took him back to prison and there heard what he had to
say.  He made a full statement in respect to the plot.  He said that
the design was to kill Peter himself, his mother, and several other
persons, near connections of Peter's branch of the family.  The
Princess Sophia was the originator of the plot, he said, and he
specified many other persons who had taken a leading part in it.

These statements of the unhappy sufferer may have been true or they may
have been false.  It is now well known that no reliance whatever can be
placed upon testimony that is extorted in this way, as men under such
circumstances will say any thing which they think will be received by
their tormentors, and be the means of bringing their sufferings to an

However it may have been in fact in this case, the testimony of
Thekelavitaw was believed.  On the faith of it many more arrests were
made, and many other persons were put to the torture to compel them to
reveal additional particulars of the plot.  It is said that one of the
modes of torment of the sufferers in these trials consisted in first
shaving the head and tying it in a fixed position, and then causing
boiling water to be poured, drop by drop, upon it, which in a very
short time produced, it is said, an exquisite and dreadful agony which
no mortal heroism could long endure.

After all these extorted confessions had been received, and the persons
accused by the wretched witnesses had been secured, the court was
employed two days in determining the relative guilt of the different
criminals, and in deciding upon the punishments.  Some of the prisoners
were beheaded; others were sentenced to perpetual imprisonment; others
were banished.  The punishment of Prince Galitzin was banishment for
life to Siberia.  He was brought before the court to hear his sentence
pronounced by the judges in form.  It was to this effect, namely, "That
he was ordered to go to Karga, a town under the pole, there to remain,
as long as he lived, in disgrace with his majesty, who had,
nevertheless, of his great goodness, allowed him threepence a day for
his subsistence; but that his justice had ordained all his goods to be
forfeited to his treasury."

Galitzin had a son who seems to have been implicated in some way with
his father in the conspiracy.  At any rate, he was sentenced to share
his father's fate.  Whether the companionship of his son on the long
and gloomy journey was a comfort to the prince, or whether it only
redoubled the bitterness of his calamity to see his son compelled to
endure it too, it would be difficult to say.  The female members of the
family were sent with them too.

As soon as the prince had been sent away, officers were dispatched to
take possession of his palace, and to make an inventory of the property
contained in it.  The officers found a vast amount of treasure.  Among
other things, they discovered a strong box buried in a vault, which
contained an immense sum of money.  There were four hundred vessels of
silver of great weight, and many other rich and costly articles.  All
these things were confiscated, and the proceeds put into the imperial

Thekelavitaw, the commander-in-chief of the Guards, had his head cut
off.  The subordinate officer who had the immediate command of the
detachment which marched out to Obrogensko was punished by being first
scourged with the knout, then having his tongue cut out, and then being
sent to Siberia in perpetual banishment, with an allowance for his
subsistence of one third the pittance which had been granted to
Galitzin.  Some of the private soldiers of the detachment were also
sentenced to have their tongues cut out, and then to be sent to Siberia
to earn their living there by hunting sables.

Peter was not willing that the Princess Sophia, being his sister,
should be publicly punished or openly disgraced in any way, so it was
decreed that she should retire to a certain convent, situated in a
solitary place a little way out of town, where she could be closely
watched and guarded.  Sophia was extremely unwilling to obey this
decree, and she would not go to the convent of her own accord.  The
commander of the Guards was thereupon directed to send a body of armed
men to convey her there, with orders to take her by force if she would
not go willingly; so Sophia was compelled to submit, and, when she was
lodged in the convent, soldiers were placed not only to keep sentinel
at the doors, but also to guard all the avenues leading to the place,
so as effectually to cut the poor prisoner off from all possible
communication with any who might be disposed to sympathize with her or
aid her.  She remained in this condition, a close prisoner, for many

Two days after this--every thing connected with the conspiracy having
been settled--it was determined that Peter should return to Moscow.  He
made a grand triumphant entry into the city, attended by an armed
escort of eighteen thousand of the Guards.  Peter himself rode
conspicuously at the head of the troops on horseback.  His wife and his
mother followed in a coach.

On arriving at the royal palace, he was met on the staircase by his
brother John, who was not supposed to have taken any part in Sophia's
conspiracy.  Peter greeted his brother kindly, and said he hoped that
they were friends.  John replied in the same spirit, and so the two
brothers were reinstated again as joint possessors, nominally, of the
supreme power, but, now that Sophia was removed out of the way, and all
her leading friends and partisans were either beheaded or banished, the
whole control of the government fell, in fact, into the hands of Peter
and of his counselors and friends.

John, his brother Czar, was too feeble and inefficient to take any part
whatever in the management of public affairs.  He was melancholy and
dejected in spirit, in consequence of his infirmities and sufferings,
and he spent most of his time in acts of devotion, according to the
rites and usages of the established church of the country, as the best
means within his knowledge of preparing himself for another and happier
world.  He died about seven years after this time.

The Princess Sophia lived for fifteen years a prisoner.  During this
period several efforts were made by those who still adhered to her
cause to effect her release and her restoration to power, but they were
all unsuccessful.  She remained in close confinement as long as she




Troublous times in the family--Peter's first governor--His
qualifications--Peter's earliest studies--His disposition and
character--Sophia's jealousy of him--Her plans for corrupting his
morals--The governor is dismissed--New system adopted--Sophia's
expectations--Peter's fifty playmates--The plot does not succeed--Peter
organizes a military school--Peter a practical mechanic--His ideas and
intentions--His drumming--His wheelbarrow--Progress of the
school--Results of Peter's energy of character

We must now go back a little in our narrative, in order to give some
account of the manner in which the childhood and early youth of Peter
were spent, and of the indications which appeared in this early period
of his life to mark his character.  He was only eighteen years of age
at the time of his marriage, and, of course, all those contests and
dissensions which, for so many years after his father Alexis's death,
continued to distract the family, took place while he was very young.
He was only about nine years old when they began, at the time of the
death of his father.

The person whom Peter's father selected to take charge of his little
son's education, in the first instance, was a very accomplished general
named Menesius.  General Menesius was a Scotchman by birth, and he had
been well educated in the literary seminaries of his native country, so
that, besides his knowledge and skill in every thing which pertained to
the art of war, he was well versed in all the European languages, and,
having traveled extensively in the different countries of Europe, he
was qualified to instruct Peter, when he should become old enough to
take an interest in such inquiries, in the arts and sciences of western
Europe, and in the character of the civilization of the various
countries, and the different degrees of progress which they had
respectively made.

At the time, however, when Peter was put under his governor's charge he
was only about five years old, and, consequently, none but the most
elementary studies were at that time suited to his years.  Of course,
it was not the duty of General Menesius to attend personally to the
instruction of his little pupil in these things, but only to see to it
that the proper teachers were appointed, and that they attended to
their duties in a faithful manner.

Every thing went on prosperously and well under this arrangement as
long as the Czar Alexis, Peter's father, continued to live.  General
Menesius resided in the palace with his charge, and he gradually began
to form a strong attachment to him.  Indeed, Peter was so full of life
and spirit, and evinced so much intelligence in all that he did and
said, and learned what was proper to be taught him at that age with so
much readiness and facility, that he was a favorite with all who knew
him; that is, with all who belonged to or were connected with his
mother's branch of the family.  With those who were connected with the
children of Alexis' first wife he was an object of continual jealousy
and suspicion, and the greater the proofs that he gave of talent and
capacity, the more jealous of him these his natural rivals became.

At length, when Alexis, his father, died, and his half-brother Theodore
succeeded to the throne, the division between the two branches of the
family became more decided than ever; and when Sophia obtained her
release from the convent, and managed to get the control of public
affairs, in consequence of Theodore's imbecility, as related in the
first chapter, one of the first sources of uneasiness for her, in
respect to the continuance of her power, was the probability that Peter
would grow up to be a talented and energetic young man, and would
sooner or later take the government into his own hands.  She revolved
in her mind many plans for preventing this.  The one which seemed to
her most feasible at first was to attempt to spoil the boy by
indulgence and luxury.

She accordingly, it is said, attempted to induce Menesius to alter the
arrangements which he had made for Peter, so as to release him from
restraint, and allow him to do as he pleased.  Her plan was also to
supply him with means of pleasure and indulgence very freely, thinking
that a boy of his age would not have the good sense or the resolution
to resist these temptations.  Thus she thought that his progress in
study would be effectually impeded, and that, perhaps, he would
undermine his health and destroy his constitution by eating and
drinking, or by other hurtful indulgences.

But Sophia found that she could not induce General Menesius to
co-operate with her in any such plans.  He had set his heart on making
his pupil a virtuous and an accomplished man, and he knew very well
that the system of laxity and indulgence which Sophia recommended would
end in his ruin.  After a considerable contest, Sophia, finding that
Menesius was inflexible, manoeuvred to cause him to be dismissed from
his office, and to have another arrangement made for the boy, by which
she thought her ends would be attained.  So Menesius bade his young
charge farewell, not, however, without giving him, in parting, most
urgent counsels to persevere, as he had begun, in the faithful
performance of his duty, to resist every temptation to idleness or
excess, and to devote himself, while young, with patience,
perseverance, and industry to the work of storing his mind with useful
knowledge, and of acquiring every possible art and accomplishment which
could be of advantage to him when he became a man.

After General Menesius had been dismissed, Sophia adopted an entirely
new system for the management of Peter.  Before this time Theodore had
died, and Peter, in conjunction with John, had been proclaimed emperor,
Sophia governing as regent in their names.  The princess now made an
arrangement for establishing Peter in a household of his own, at a
palace situated in a small village at some distance from Moscow, and
she appointed fifty boys to live with him as his playmates and amusers.
These boys were provided with every possible means of indulgence, and
were subject to very little restraint.  The intention of Sophia was
that they should do just as they pleased, and she had no doubt that
they would spend their time in such a manner that they would all grow
up idle, vicious, and good for nothing.  There was even some hope that
Peter would impair his health to such an extent by excessive
indulgences as to bring him to an early grave.

Indeed, the plot was so well contrived that there are probably not many
boys who would not, under such circumstances, have fallen into the
snare so adroitly laid for them and been ruined; but Peter escaped it.
Whether it was from the influence of the counsels and instructions of
his former governor, or from his own native good sense, or from both
combined, he resisted the temptations that were laid before him, and,
instead of giving up his studies, and spending his time in indolence
and vice, he improved such privileges as he enjoyed to the best of his
ability.  He even contrived to turn the hours of play, and the
companions who had been given to him as mere instruments of pleasure,
into means of improvement.  He caused the boys to be organized into a
sort of military school, and learned with them all the evolutions, and
practiced all the discipline necessary in a camp.  He himself began at
the very beginning.  He caused himself to be taught to drum, not merely
as most boys do, just to make a noise for his amusement, but regularly
and scientifically, so as to enable him to understand and execute all
the beats and signals used in camp and on the field of battle.  He
studied fortification, and set the boys at work, himself among them, in
constructing a battery in a regular and scientific manner.  He learned
the use of tools, too, practically, in a shop which had been provided
for the boys as a place for play; and the wheelbarrow with which he
worked in making the fortification was one which he had constructed
with his own hands.

He did not assume any superiority over his companions in these
exercises, but took his place among them as an equal, obeying the
commands which were given to him, when it came to his turn to serve,
and taking his full share of all the hardest of the work which was to
be done.

Nor was this all mere boys' play, pursued for a little time as long as
the novelty lasted, and then thrown aside for something more amusing.
Peter knew that when he became a man he would be emperor of all Russia.
He knew that among the populations of that immense country there were a
great many wild and turbulent tribes, half savage in habits and
character, that would never be controlled but by military force, and
that the country, too, was surrounded by other nations that would
sometimes, unless he was well prepared for them, assume a hostile
attitude against his government, and perhaps make great aggressions
upon his territories.  He wished, therefore, to prepare himself for the
emergencies that might in future arise by making himself thoroughly
acquainted with all the details of the military art.  He did not
expect, it is true, that he should ever be called upon to serve in any
of his armies as an actual drummer, or to wheel earth and construct
fortifications with his own hands, still less to make the wheelbarrows
by which the work was to be done; but he was aware that he could
superintend these things far more intelligently and successfully if he
knew in detail precisely how every thing ought to be done, and that was
the reason why he took so much pains to learn himself how to do them.

As he grew older he contrived to introduce higher and higher branches
of military art into the school, and to improve and perfect the
organization of it in every way.  After a while he adopted improved
uniforms and equipments for the pupils, such as were used at the
military schools of the different nations of Europe; and he established
professors of different branches of military science as fast as he
himself and his companions advanced in years and in power of
appreciating studies more and more elevated.  The result was, that
when, at length, he was eighteen years of age, and the time arrived for
him to leave the place, the institution had become completely
established as a well-organized and well-appointed military school, and
it continued in successful operation as such for a long time afterward.

It was in a great measure in consequence of the energy and talent which
Peter thus displayed that so many of the leading nobles attached
themselves to his cause, by which means he was finally enabled to
depose Sophia from her regency, and take the power into his own hands,
even before he was of age, as related in the last chapter.




Conditions of success in life--The selection of agents--Building a
house--Secret of success--Peter's youth--Le Fort and Menzikoff--Merchants
of Amsterdam--Le Fort in the counting-house--He goes to Copenhagen--He
becomes acquainted with military life--The ambassador--Le Fort an
interpreter--He attracts the attention of the emperor--His judicious
answers--Gratification of the emperor--The embassador's opinion--The
glass of wine--Le Fort given up to the emperor--His appointment at
court--His subsequent career--Uniforms--Le Fort's suggestion--An
embassador's train--Surprise and pleasure of the Czar--Le Fort undertakes
a commission--Making of the uniforms--He enlists a company--The company
appears before the emperor--The result--New improvements
proposed--Changes--Remodeling of the tariff--Effects of the change--The
finances--Carpenters and masons brought in--New palace--Le Fort's
increasing influence--His generosity--Peter's violent temper--Le Fort an
intercessor--Prince Menzikoff--His early history--He sets off to seek his
fortune--His pies and cakes--Negotiations with the emperor--Menzikoff in
Le Fort's company--Menzikoff's real character--Quarrel between Peter and
his wife--Cause of the quarrel--Ottokesa's cruel fate--Grave faults in
Peter's character

Whatever may be a person's situation in life, his success in his
undertakings depends not more, after all, upon his own personal ability
to do what is required to be done, than it does upon his sagacity and the
soundness of his judgment in selecting the proper persons to co-operate
with him and assist him in doing it.  In all great enterprises undertaken
by men, it is only a very small part which they can execute with their
own hands, and multitudes of most excellently contrived plans fail for
want of wisdom in the choice of the men who are depended upon for the
accomplishment of them.

This is true in all things, small as well as great.  A man may form a
very wise scheme for building a house.  He may choose an excellent place
for the location of it, and draw up a good plan, and make ample
arrangements for the supply of funds, but if he does not know how to
choose, or where to find good builders, his scheme will come to a
miserable end.  He may choose builders that are competent but dishonest,
or they may be honest but incompetent, or they may be subject to some
other radical defect; in either of which cases the house will be badly
built, and the scheme will be a failure.

Many men say, when such a misfortune as this happens to them, "Ah! it was
not my fault.  It was the fault of the builders;" to which the proper
reply would be, "It _was_ your fault.  You should not have undertaken to
build a house unless, in addition to being able to form the general plan
and arrangements wisely, you had also had the sagacity to discern the
characters of the men whom you were to employ to execute the work."  This
latter quality is as important to success in all undertakings as the
former.  Indeed, it is far more important, for good _men_ may correct or
avoid the evils of a bad plan, but a good plan can never afford security
against the evil action of bad men.

The sovereigns and great military commanders that have acquired the
highest celebrity in history have always been remarkable for their tact
and sagacity in discovering and bringing forward the right kind of talent
for the successful accomplishment of their various designs.

When Peter first found himself nominally in possession of the supreme
power, after the fall of the Princess Sophia, he was very young, and the
administration of the government was really in the hands of different
nobles and officers of state, who managed affairs in his name.  From time
to time there were great dissensions among these men.   They formed
themselves into cliques and coteries, each of which was jealous of the
influence of the others.  As Peter gradually grew older, and felt
stronger and stronger in his position, he took a greater part in the
direction and control of the public policy, and the persons whom he first
made choice of to aid him in his plans were two very able men, whom he
afterward raised to positions of great responsibility and honor.  These
men became, indeed, in the end, highly distinguished as statesmen, and
were very prominent and very efficient instruments in the development and
realization of Peter's plans.  The name of the first of these statesmen
was Le Fort; that of the second was Menzikoff.  The story which is told
by the old historians of both of these men is quite romantic.

Le Fort was the son of a merchant of Geneva.  He had a strong desire from
his childhood to be a soldier, but his father, considering the hardships
and dangers to which a military life would expose him, preferred to make
him a merchant, and so he provided him with a place in the counting-house
of one of the great merchants of Amsterdam.  The city of Amsterdam was in
those days one of the greatest and wealthiest marts of commerce in the

Very many young men, in being thus restrained by their fathers from
pursuing the profession which they themselves chose, and placed, instead,
in a situation which they did not like, would have gone to their duty in
a discontented and sullen manner, and would have made no effort to
succeed in the business or to please their employers; but Le Fort, it
seems, was a boy of a different mould from this.  He went to his work in
the counting-house at Amsterdam with a good heart, and devoted himself to
his business with so much industry and steadiness, and evinced withal so
much amiableness of disposition in his intercourse with all around him,
that before long, as the accounts say, the merchant "loved him as his own
child."  After some considerable time had elapsed, the merchant, who was
constantly sending vessels to different parts of the world, was on one
occasion about dispatching a ship to Copenhagen, and Le Fort asked
permission to go in her.  The merchant was not only willing that he
should go, but also gave him the whole charge of the cargo, with
instructions to attend to the sale of it, and the remittance of the
proceeds on the arrival of the ship in port.  Le Fort accordingly sailed
in the ship, and on his arrival at Copenhagen he transacted the business
of selling the cargo and sending back the money so skillfully and well
that the merchant was very well pleased with him.

Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark, and the Danes were at that time
quite a powerful and warlike nation.  Le Fort, in walking about the
streets of the town while his ship was lying there, often saw the Danish
soldiers marching to and fro, and performing their evolutions, and the
sight revived in his mind his former interest in being a soldier.  He
soon made acquaintance with some of the officers, and, in hearing them
talk of their various adventures, and of the details of their mode of
life, he became very eager to join them.  They liked him, too, very much.
He had made great progress in learning the different languages spoken in
that part of the world, and the officers found, moreover, that he was
very quick in understanding the military principles which they explained
to him, and in learning evolutions of all kinds.

About this time it happened that an embassador was to be sent from
Denmark to Russia, and Le Fort, who had a great inclination to see the
world as well as to be a soldier, was seized with a strong desire to
accompany the expedition in the embassador's train.  He already knew
something of the Russian language, and he set himself at work with all
diligence to study it more.  He also obtained recommendations from those
who had known him--probably, among others, from the merchant in
Amsterdam, and he secured the influence in his favor of the officers in
Copenhagen with whom he had become acquainted.  When these preliminary
steps had been taken, he made application for the post of interpreter to
the embassy; and after a proper examination had been made in respect to
his character and his qualifications, he received the appointment.  Thus,
instead of going back to Amsterdam after his cargo was sold, he went to
Russia in the suite of the embassador.

The embassador soon formed a very strong friendship for his young
interpreter, and employed him confidentially, when he arrived in Moscow,
in many important services.  The embassador himself soon acquired great
influence at Moscow, and was admitted to quite familiar intercourse, not
only with the leading Russian noblemen, but also with Peter himself.  On
one occasion, when Peter was dining at the embassador's--as it seems he
was sometimes accustomed to do--he took notice of Le Fort, who was
present as one of the party, on account of his prepossessing appearance
and agreeable manners.  He also observed that, for a foreigner, he spoke
the Russian language remarkably well.  The emperor asked Le Fort some
questions concerning his origin and history, and, being very much pleased
with his answers, and with his general air and demeanor, he asked him
whether he should be willing to enter into his service.  Le Fort replied
in a very respectful manner, "That, whatever ambition he might have to
serve so great a monarch, yet the duty and gratitude which he owed to his
present master, the embassador, would not allow him to promise any thing
without first asking his consent."

"Very well," replied the Czar; "_I_ will ask your master's consent."

"But I hope," said Le Fort, "that your majesty will make use of some
other interpreter than myself in asking the question."

Peter was very much pleased with both these answers of Le Fort--the one
showing his scrupulous fidelity to his engagements in not being willing
to leave one service for another, however advantageous to himself the
change might be, until he was honorably released by his first employer,
and the other marking the delicacy of mind which prompted him to wish not
to take any part in the conversation between the emperor and the
embassador respecting himself, as his office of interpreter would
naturally lead him to do, but to prefer that the communication should be
made through an indifferent person, in order that the embassador might be
perfectly free to express his real opinion without any reserve.

Accordingly, the Czar, taking another interpreter with him, went to the
embassador and began to ask him about Le Fort.

"He speaks very good Russian," said Peter.

"Yes, please your majesty," said the embassador, "he has a genius for
learning any thing that he pleases.  When he came to me four months ago
he knew very little of German, but now he speaks it very well.  I have
two German interpreters in my train, and he speaks the language as well
as either of them.  He did not know a word of Russian when he came to my
country, but your majesty can judge yourself how well he speaks it now."

In the mean time, while Peter and the embassador were talking thus about
Le Fort, he himself had withdrawn to another part of the room.  The Czar
was very much pleased with the modesty of the young gentleman's behavior;
and, after finishing the conversation with the embassador, without,
however, having asked him to release Le Fort from his service, he
returned to the part of the room where Le Fort was, and presently asked
him to bring him a glass of wine.  He said no more to him at that time in
respect to entering his service, but Le Fort understood very well from
his countenance, and from the manner in which he asked him for the wine,
that nothing had occurred in his conversation with the embassador to lead
him to change his mind.

The next day Peter, having probably in the mean time made some farther
inquiries about Le Fort, introduced the subject again in conversation
with the embassador.  He told the embassador that he had a desire to have
the young man Le Fort about him, and asked if he should be willing to
part with him.  The embassador replied that, notwithstanding any desire
he might feel to retain so agreeable and promising a man in his own
service, still the exchange was too advantageous to Le Fort, and he
wished him too well to make any objection to it; and besides, he added,
he knew too well his duty to his majesty not to consent readily to any
arrangement of that kind that his majesty might desire.

The next day Peter sent for Le Fort, and formally appointed him his first
interpreter.  The duties of this office required Le Fort to be a great
deal in the emperor's presence, and Peter soon became extremely attached
to him.  Le Fort, although we have called him a young man, was now about
thirty-five years of age, while Peter himself was yet not twenty.  It was
natural, therefore, that Peter should soon learn to place great
confidence in him, and often look to him for information, and this the
more readily on account of Le Fort's having been brought up in the heart
of Europe, where all the arts of civilization, both those connected with
peace and war, were in a much more advanced state than they were at this
time in Russia.

Le Fort continued in the service of the emperor until the day of his
death, which happened about ten years after this time; and during this
period he rose to great distinction, and exercised a very important part
in the management of public affairs, and more particularly in aiding
Peter to understand and to introduce into his own dominions the arts and
improvements of western Europe.

The first improvement which Le Fort was the means of introducing in the
affairs of the Czar related to the dress and equipment of the troops.
The Guards had before that time been accustomed to wear an old-fashioned
Russian uniform, which was far from being convenient.  The outside
garment was a sort of long coat or gown, which considerably impeded the
motion of the limbs.  One day, not long after Le Fort entered the service
of the emperor, Peter, being engaged in conversation with him, asked him
what he thought of his soldiers.

"The men themselves are very well," replied Le Port, "but it seems to me
that the dress which they wear is not so convenient for military use as
the style of dress now usually adopted among the western nations."

Peter asked what this style was, and Le Fort replied that if his majesty
would permit him to do so, he would take measures for affording him an
opportunity to see.

Accordingly, Le Fort repaired immediately to the tailor of the Danish
embassador.  This tailor the embassador had brought with him from
Copenhagen, for it was the custom in those days for personages of high
rank and station, like the embassador, to take with them, in their train,
persons of all the trades and professions which they might require, so
that, wherever they might be, they could have the means of supplying all
their wants within themselves, and without at all depending upon the
people whom they visited.  Le Fort employed the tailor to make him two
military suits, in the style worn by the royal guards at Copenhagen--one
for an officer, and another for a soldier of the ranks.  The tailor
finished the first suit in two days.  Le Fort put the dress on, and in
the morning, at the time when, according to his usual custom, he was to
wait upon the emperor in his chamber, he went in wearing the new uniform.

The Czar was surprised at the unexpected spectacle.  At first he did not
know Le Fort in his new garb; and when at length he recognized him, and
began to understand the case, he was exceedingly pleased.  He examined
the uniform in every part, and praised not only the dress itself, but
also Le Fort's ingenuity and diligence in procuring him so good an
opportunity to know what the military style of the western nations really

Soon after this Le Fort appeared again in the emperor's presence wearing
the uniform of a common soldier.  The emperor examined this dress too,
and saw the superiority of it in respect to its convenience, and its
adaptedness to the wants and emergencies of military life.  He said at
once that he should like to have a company of guards dressed and equipped
in that manner, and should be also very much pleased to have them
disciplined and drilled according to the western style.  Le Fort said
that if his majesty was pleased to intrust him with the commission, he
would endeavor to organize such a company.

The emperor requested him to do so, and Le Port immediately undertook the
task.  He went about Moscow to all the different merchants to procure the
materials necessary--for many of these materials were such as were not
much in use in Moscow, and so it was not easy to procure them in
sufficient quantities to make the number of suits that Le Fort required.
He also sought out all the tailors that he could find at the houses of
the different embassadors, or of the great merchants who came from
western Europe, and were consequently acquainted with the mode of cutting
and making the dresses in the proper manner.  Of course, a considerable
number of tailors would be necessary to make up so many uniforms in the
short space of time which Le Fort wished to allot to the work.

Le Fort then went about among the strangers and foreigners at Moscow,
both those connected with the embassadors and others, to find men that
were in some degree acquainted with the drill and tactics of the western
armies, who were willing to serve in the company that he was about to
organize.  He soon made up a company of fifty men.  When this company was
completed, and clothed in the new uniform, and had been properly drilled,
Le Fort put himself at the head of them one morning, and marched them,
with drums beating and colors flying, before the palace gate.  The Czar
came to the window to see them as they passed.  He was much surprised at
the spectacle, and very much pleased.  He came down to look at the men
more closely; he stood by while they went through the exercises in which
Le Fort had drilled them.  The emperor was so much pleased that he said
he would join the company himself.  He wished to learn to perform the
exercise personally, so as to know in a practical manner precisely how
others ought to perform it.  He accordingly caused a dress to be made for
himself, and he took his place afterward in the ranks as a common
soldier, and was drilled with the rest in all the exercises.

From this beginning the change went on until the style of dress and the
system of tactics for the whole imperial army was reformed by the
introduction of the compact and scientific system of western Europe, in
the place of the old-fashioned and cumbrous usages which had previously

The emperor having experienced the immense advantages which resulted from
the adoption of western improvements in his army, wished now to make an
experiment of introducing, in the same way, the elements of western
civilization into the ordinary branches of industry and art.  He proposed
to Le Fort to make arrangements for bringing into the country a great
number of mechanics and artisans from Denmark, Germany, France, and other
European countries, in order that their improved methods and processes
might be introduced into Russia.  Le Fort readily entered into this
proposal, but he explained to the emperor that, in order to render such a
measure successful on the scale necessary for the accomplishment of any
important good, it would be first requisite to make some considerable
changes in the general laws of the land, especially in relation to
intercourse with foreign nations.  On his making known fully and in
detail what these changes would be, the emperor readily acceded to them,
and the proposed modifications of the laws were made.  The tariff of
duties on the products and manufactures of foreign countries was greatly
reduced.  This produced a two-fold effect.

In the first place, it greatly increased the importations of goods from
foreign countries, and thus promoted the intercourse of the Russians with
foreign merchants, manufacturers, and artisans, and gradually accustomed
the people to a better style of living, and to improved fashions in
dress, furniture, and equipage, and thus prepared the country to furnish
an extensive market for the encouragement of Russian arts and
manufactures as fast as they could be introduced.

In the second place, the new system greatly increased the revenues of the
empire.  It is true that the tariff was reduced, so that the articles
that were imported paid only about half as much in proportion after the
change as before.  But then the new laws increased the importations so
much, that the loss was very much more than made up to the treasury, and
the emperor found in a very short time that the state of his finances was
greatly improved.  This enabled him to take measures for introducing into
the country great numbers of foreign manufacturers and artisans from
Germany, France, Scotland, and other countries of western Europe.  These
men were brought into the country by the emperor, and sustained there at
the public expense, until they had become so far established in their
several professions and trades that they could maintain themselves.
Among others, he brought in a great many carpenters and masons to teach
the Russians to build better habitations than those which they had been
accustomed to content themselves with, which were, in general, wooden
huts of very rude and inconvenient construction.  One of the first
undertakings in which the masons were employed was the building of a
handsome palace of hewn stone in Moscow for the emperor himself, the
first edifice of that kind which had ever been built in that city.  The
sight of a palace formed of so elegant and durable a material excited the
emulation of all the wealthy noblemen, so that, as soon as the masons
were released from their engagement with the emperor, they found plenty
of employment in building new houses and palaces for these noblemen.

These and a great many other similar measures were devised by Le Fort
during the time that he continued in the service of the Czar, and the
success which attended all his plans and proposals gave him, in the end,
great influence, and was the means of acquiring for him great credit and
renown.  And yet he was so discreet and unpretending in his manners and
demeanor, if the accounts which have come down to us respecting him are
correct, that the high favor in which he was held by the emperor did not
awaken in the hearts of the native nobles of the land any considerable
degree of that jealousy and ill-will which they might have been expected
to excite.  Le Fort was of a very self-sacrificing and disinterested
disposition.  He was generous in his dealings with all, and he often
exerted the ascendency which he had acquired over the mind of the emperor
to save other officers from undeserved or excessive punishment when they
displeased their august master; for it must be confessed that Peter,
notwithstanding all the excellences of his character, had the reputation
at this period of his life of being hasty and passionate.  He was very
impatient of contradiction, and he could not tolerate any species of
opposition to his wishes.  Being possessed himself of great decision of
character, and delighting, as he did, in promptness and energy of action,
he lost all patience sometimes, when annoyed by the delays, or the
hesitation, or the inefficiency of others, who were not so richly endowed
by nature as himself.  In these cases he was often unreasonable, and
sometimes violent; and he would in many instances have acted in an
ungenerous and cruel manner if Le Fort had not always been at hand to
restrain and appease him.

Le Fort always acted as intercessor in cases of difficulty of this sort;
so that the Russian noblemen, or boyars as they were called, in the end
looked upon him as their father.  It is said that he actually saved the
lives of great numbers of them, whom Peter, without his intercession,
would have sentenced to death.  Others he saved from the knout, and
others from banishment.  At one time, when the emperor in a passion, was
going to cause one of his officers to be scourged, although, as Le Fort
thought, he had been guilty of no wrong which could deserve such a
punishment, Le Fort, after all other means had failed, bared his own
breast and shoulders, and bade the angry emperor to strike or cut there
if he would, but to spare the innocent person.  The Czar was entirely
overcome by this noble generosity, and, clasping Le Fort in his arms,
thanked him for his interposition, at the same time allowing the
trembling prisoner to depart in peace, with his heart full of gratitude
toward the friend who had so nobly saved him.

Another of the chief officers in Peter's service during the early part of
his reign was the Prince Menzikoff.  His origin was very humble.  His
Christian name was Alexander, and his father was a laboring man in the
service of a monastery on the banks of the Volga.  The monasteries of
those times were endowed with large tracts of valuable land, which were
cultivated by servants or vassals, and from the proceeds of this
cultivation the monks were supported, and the monastery buildings kept in
repair or enlarged.

Alexander spent the early years of his life in working with his father on
the monastery lands; but, being a lad of great spirit and energy, he
gradually became dissatisfied with this mode of life; for the peasants of
those days, such as his father, who tilled the lands of the nobles or of
the monks, were little better than slaves.  Alexander, then, when he
arrived at the age of thirteen or fourteen, finding his situation and
prospects at home very gloomy and discouraging, concluded to go out into
the world and seek his fortune.

So he left his father's hut and set out for Moscow.  After meeting with
various adventures on the way and in the city, he finally found a place
in a pastry-cook's shop; but, instead of being employed in making and
baking the pies and tarts, he was sent out into the streets to sell them.
In order to attract customers to his merchandise, he used to sing songs
and tell stories in the streets.  Indeed, it was the talent which he
evinced in these arts, doubtless, which led his master to employ him in
this way, instead of keeping him at work at home in the baking.

The story which is told of the manner in which the emperor's attention
was first attracted to young Menzikoff is very curious, but, as is the
case with all other such personal anecdotes related of great sovereigns,
it is very doubtful how far it is to be believed.  It is said that Peter,
passing along the street one day, stopped to listen to Menzikoff as he
was singing a song or telling a story to a crowd of listeners.  He was
much diverted by one of the songs that he heard, and at the close of it
he spoke to the boy, and finally asked him what he would take for his
whole stock of cakes and pies, basket and all.  The boy named the sum for
which he would sell all the cakes and pies, but as for the basket he said
that belonged to his master, and he had no power to sell it.

[Illustration: Menzikoff selling his cakes.]

"Still," he added, "every thing belongs to your majesty, and your majesty
has, therefore, only to give me the command, and I shall deliver it up to

This reply pleased the Czar so much that he sent for the boy to come to
him, and on conversing with him farther, and after making additional
inquiries respecting him, he was so well satisfied that he took him at
once into his service.

All this took place before Le Fort's plan was formed for organizing a
company to exhibit to the emperor the style of uniform and the system of
military discipline adopted in western Europe, as has already been
described.  Menzikoff joined this company, and he took so much interest
in the exercises and evolutions, and evinced so great a degree of
intelligence, and so much readiness in comprehending and in practicing
the various manoeuvres, that he attracted Le Fort's special attention.
He was soon promoted to office in the company, and ultimately he became
Le Fort's principal co-operator in his various measures and plans.  From
this he rose by degrees, until in process of time he became one of the
most distinguished generals in Peter's army, and took a very important
part in some of his most celebrated campaigns.

In reading stories like these, we are naturally led to feel a strong
interest in the persons who are the subjects of them, and we sometimes
insensibly form opinions of their characters which are far too favorable.
This Menzikoff, for example, notwithstanding the enterprising spirit
which he displayed in his boyhood, in setting off alone to Moscow to seek
his fortune, and his talent for telling stories and singing songs, and
the interest which he felt, and the success that he met with, in learning
Le Fort's military manoeuvres, and the great distinction which he
subsequently acquired as a military commander, may have been, after all,
in relation to any just and proper standards of moral duty, a very bad
man.  Indeed, there is much reason to suppose that he was so.  At all
events, he became subsequently implicated in a dreadful quarrel which
took place between Peter and his wife, under circumstances which appear
very much against him.  This quarrel occurred after Peter had been
married only about two years, and when he was yet not quite twenty years
old.  As usual in such cases, very different stories are told by the
friends respectively of the husband and the wife.  On the part of the
empress it was said that the difficulty arose from Peter's having been
drawn away into bad company, and especially the company of bad women,
through the instrumentality of Menzikoff when he first came into Peter's
service.  Menzikoff was a dissolute young man, it was said, while he was
in the service of the pastry-cook, and was accustomed to frequent the
haunts of the vicious and depraved about the town; and after he entered
into Peter's service, Peter himself began to go with him to these places,
disguised, of course, so as not to be known.  This troubled Ottokesa, and
made her jealous; and when she remonstrated with her husband he was
angry, and by way of recrimination accused her of being unfaithful to
him.  Menzikoff too was naturally filled with resentment at the empress's
accusations against him, and he took Peter's part against his wife.
Whatever may have been the truth in regard to the grounds of the
complaints made by the parties against each other, the power was on
Peter's side.  He repudiated his wife, and then shut her up in a place of
seclusion, where he kept her confined all the remainder of her days.

Besides the unfavorable inferences which we might justly draw from this
case, there are unfortunately other indications that Peter,
notwithstanding the many and great excellences of his character, was at
this period of his life violent and passionate in temper, very impatient
of contradiction or opposition, and often unreasonable and unjust in his
treatment of those who for any reason became the objects of his suspicion
or dislike.  Various incidents and occurrences illustrating these traits
in his character will appear in the subsequent chapters of his history.




Peter's unlimited power--Extent of his dominions--Character--His wishes
in respect to his dominion--Embassy to China--Siberia--Inhospitable
climate--The exiles--Western civilization--Ship-building--The Dutch
ship-yards--Saardam--The barge at the country palace--The emperor's
first vessels--Sham-fights--Azof--Naval operations against
Azof--Treachery of the artilleryman--Defeat--New attempt--The Turkish
fleet taken--Fall of Azof--Fame of the emperor--His plans for building
a fleet--Foreign workmen--Penalties--His arbitrary proceedings--He
sends the young nobility abroad--Opposition--Sullen mood of
mind--National prejudices offended--The opposition party--Arguments of
the disaffected--Religious feelings of the people--The patriarch--An
impious scheme--Plan of the conspirators--Fires--Dread of them in
Moscow--Modern cities--Plan for massacring the foreigners--The day--The
plot revealed--Measures taken by Peter--Torture--Punishment of the
conspirators--The column in the market-place

Peter was now not far from twenty years of age, and he was in full
possession of power as vast, perhaps--if we consider both the extent of
it and its absoluteness--as was ever claimed by any European sovereign.
There was no written constitution to limit his prerogatives, and no
Legislature or Parliament to control him by laws.  In a certain sense,
as Alexander Menzikoff said when selling his cakes, every thing
belonged to him.  His word was law.  Life and death hung upon his
decree.  His dominions extended so far that, on an occasion when he
wished to send an embassador to one of his neighbors--the Emperor of
China--it took the messenger more than _eighteen months_ of constant
and diligent traveling to go from the capital to the frontier.

Such was Peter's position.  As to character, he was talented,
ambitious, far-seeing, and resolute; but he was also violent in temper,
merciless and implacable toward his enemies, and possessed of an
indomitable will.

He began immediately to feel a strong interest in the improvement of
his empire, in order to increase his own power and grandeur as the
monarch of it, just as a private citizen might wish to improve his
estate in order to increase his wealth and importance as the owner of
it.  He sent the embassador above referred to to China in order to make
arrangements for increasing and improving the trade between the two
countries.  This mission was arranged in a very imposing manner.  The
embassador was attended with a train of twenty-one persons, who went
with him in the capacity of secretaries, interpreters, legal
councilors, and the like, besides a large number of servants and
followers to wait upon the gentlemen of the party, and to convey and
take care of the baggage.  The baggage was borne in a train of wagons
which followed the carriages of the embassador and his suite, so that
the expedition moved through the country quite like a little army on a

It was nearly three years before the embassage returned.  The measure,
however, was eminently successful.  It placed the relations of the two
empires on a very satisfactory footing.

The dominions of the Czar extended then, as now, through all the
northern portions of Europe and Asia, to the shores of the Icy Sea.  A
very important part of this region is the famous Siberia.  The land
here is not of much value for cultivation, on account of the long and
dreary winters and the consequent shortness of the summer season.  But
this very coldness of the climate causes it to produce a great number
of fine fur-bearing animals, such as the sable, the mink, the ermine,
and the otter; for nature has so arranged it that, the colder any
climate is, the finer and the warmer is the fur which grows upon the
animals that live there.

The inhabitants of Siberia are employed, therefore, chiefly in hunting
wild animals for their flesh or their fur, and in working the mines;
and, from time immemorial, it has been the custom to send criminals
there in banishment, and compel them to spend the remainder of their
lives in these toilsome and dangerous occupations.  Of course, the
cold, the exposure, and the fatigue, joined to the mental distress and
suffering which the thought of their hard fate and the recollections of
home must occasion, soon bring far the greater proportion of these
unhappy outcasts to the grave.

Peter interested himself very much in efforts to open communications
with these retired and almost inaccessible regions, and to improve and
extend the working of the mines.  But his thoughts were chiefly
occupied with the condition of the European portion of his dominions,
and with schemes for introducing more and more fully the arts and
improvements of western Europe among his people.  He was ready to seize
upon every occasion which could furnish any hint or suggestion to this

The manner in which his attention was first turned to the subject of
ship-building illustrated this.  In those days Holland was the great
centre of commerce and navigation for the whole world, and the art of
ship-building had made more progress in that nation than in any other.
The Dutch held colonies in every quarter of the globe.  Their
men-of-war and their fleets of merchantmen penetrated to every sea, and
their naval commanders were universally renowned for their enterprise,
their bravery, and their nautical skill.

The Dutch not only built ships for themselves, but orders were sent to
their ship-yards from all parts of the world, inasmuch as in these
yards all sorts of vessels, whether for war, commerce, or pleasure,
could be built better and cheaper than in any other place.

One of the chief centres in which these ship and boat building
operations were carried on was the town of Saardam.  This town lies
near Amsterdam, the great commercial capital of the country.  It
extends for a mile or two along the banks of a deep and still river,
which furnish most complete and extensive facilities for the docks and

Now it happened that, one day when Peter was with Le Fort at one of his
country palaces where there was a little lake, and a canal connected
with it, which had been made for pleasure-sailing on the grounds, his
attention was attracted to the form and construction of a yacht which
was lying there.  This yacht having been sent for from Holland at the
time when the palace grounds were laid out, the emperor fell into
conversation with Le Fort in respect to it, and this led to the subject
of ships and ship-building in general.  Le Fort represented so strongly
to his master the advantages which Holland and the other maritime
powers of Europe derived from their ships of war, that Peter began
immediately to feel a strong desire to possess a navy himself.  There
were, of course, great difficulties in the way.  Russia was almost
entirely an inland country.  There were no good sea-ports, and Moscow,
the capital, was situated very far in the interior.  Then, besides,
Peter not only had no ships, but there were no mechanics or artisans in
Russia that knew how to build them.

Le Fort, however, when he perceived how deep was the interest which
Peter felt in the subject, made inquiries, and at length succeeded in
finding among the Dutch merchants that were in Moscow the means of
procuring some ship-builders to build him several small vessels, which,
when they were completed, were launched upon a lake not far from the
city.  Afterward other vessels were built in the same place, in the
form of frigates; and these, when they were launched, were properly
equipped and armed, under Le Fort's direction, and the emperor took
great interest in sailing about in them on the lake, in learning
personally all the evolutions necessary for the management of them, and
in performing sham-fights by setting one of them against another.  He
took command of one of the vessels as captain, and thenceforward
assumed that designation as one of his most honorable titles.  All this
took place when Peter was about twenty-two years old.

Not very long after this the emperor had an opportunity to make a
commencement in converting his nautical knowledge to actual use by
engaging in something like a naval operation against an enemy, in
conjunction with several other European powers, he declared war anew
against the Turks and Tartars, and the chief object of the first
campaign was the capture of the city of Azof, which is situated on the
shores of the Sea of Azof, near the mouth of the River Don.  Peter not
only approached and invested the city by land, but he also took
possession of the river leading to it by means of a great number of
boats and vessels which he caused to be built along the banks.  In this
way he cut off all supplies from the city, and pressed it so closely
that he would have taken it, it was said, had it not been for the
treachery of an officer of artillery, who betrayed to the enemy the
principal battery which had been raised against the town just as it was
ready to be opened upon the walls.  This artilleryman, who was not a
native Russian, but one of the foreigners whom the Czar had enlisted in
his service, became exasperated at some ill treatment which he received
from the Russian nobleman who commanded his corps; so he secretly drove
nails into the touchholes of all the guns in the battery, and then, in
the night, went over to the Turks and informed them what he had done.
Accordingly, very early in the morning the Turks sallied forth and
attacked the battery, and the men who were charged with the defense of
it, on rushing to the guns, found that they could not be fired.  The
consequence was that the battery was taken, the men put to flight, and
the guns destroyed.  This defeat entirely disconcerted the Russian
army, and so effectually deranged their plans that they were obliged to
raise the siege and withdraw, with the expectation, however, of
renewing the attempt in another campaign.

Accordingly, the next year the attempt was renewed, and many more boats
and vessels were built upon the river to co-operate with the besiegers.
The Turks had ships of their own, which they brought into the Sea of
Azof for the protection of the town.  But Peter sent down a few of his
smaller vessels, and by means of them contrived to entice the Turkish
commander up a little way into the river.  Peter then came down upon
him with all his fleet, and the Turkish ships were overpowered and
taken.  Thus Peter gained his first naval victory almost, as we might
say, on the land.  He conquered and captured a fleet of sea-going ships
by enticing them among the boats and other small craft which he had
built up country on the banks of a river.

Soon after this Azof was taken.  One of the conditions of the surrender
was that the treacherous artilleryman should be delivered up to the
Czar.  He was taken to Moscow, and there put to death with tortures too
horrible to be described.  They did not deny that the man had been
greatly injured by his Russian commander, but they told him that what
he ought to have done was to appeal to the emperor for redress, and not
to seek his revenge by traitorously giving up to the enemy the trust
committed to his charge.

The emperor acquired great fame throughout Europe by the success of his
operations in the siege of Azof.  This success also greatly increased
his interest in the building of ships, especially as he now, since Azof
had fallen into his hands, had a port upon an open sea.

In a word, Peter was now very eager to begin at once the building ships
of war.  He was determined that he would have a fleet which would
enable him to go out and meet the Turks in the Black Sea.  The great
difficulty was to provide the necessary funds.  To accomplish this
purpose, Peter, who was never at all scrupulous in respect to the means
which he adopted for attaining his ends, resorted at once to very
decided measures.  Besides the usual taxes which were laid upon the
people to maintain the war, he ordained that a certain number of
wealthy noblemen should each pay for one ship, which, however, as some
compensation for the cost which the nobleman was put to in building it,
he was at liberty to call by his own name.  The same decree was made in
respect to a number of towns, monasteries, companies, and public
institutions.  The emperor also made arrangements for having a large
number of workmen sent into Russia from Holland, and from Venice, and
from other maritime countries.  The emperor laid his plans in this way
for the construction and equipment of a fleet of about one hundred
ships and vessels, consisting of frigates, store-ships, bomb-vessels,
galleys, and galliasses.  These were all to be built, equipped, and
made in all respects ready for sea in the space of three years; and if
any person or party failed to have his ship ready at that time, the
amount of the tax which had been assessed to him was to be doubled.

In all these proceedings, the Czar, as might have been expected from
his youth and his headstrong character, acted in a very summary, and in
many respects in an arbitrary and despotic manner.  His decrees
requiring the nobles to contribute such large sums for the building of
his fleet occasioned a great deal of dissatisfaction and complaint.
And very soon he resorted to some other measures, which increased the
general discontent exceedingly.

He appointed a considerable number of the younger nobility, and the
sons of other persons of wealth and distinction, to travel in the
western countries of Europe while the fleet was preparing, giving them
special instructions in respect to the objects of interest which they
should severally examine and study.  The purpose of this measure was to
advance the general standard of intelligence in Russia by affording to
these young men the advantages of foreign travel, and enlarging their
ideas in respect to the future progress of their own country in the
arts and appliances of civilized life.  The general idea of the emperor
in this was excellent, and the effect of the measure would have been
excellent too if it had been carried out in a more gentle and moderate
way.  But the fathers of the young men were incensed at having their
sons ordered thus peremptorily out of the country, whether they liked
to go or not, and however inconvenient it might be for the fathers to
provide the large amounts of money which were required for such
journeys.  It is said that one young man was so angry at being thus
sent away that he determined that his country should not derive any
benefit from the measure, so far as his case was concerned, and
accordingly, when he arrived at Venice, which was the place where he
was sent, he shut himself up in his house, and remained there all the
time, in order that he might not see or learn any thing to make use of
on his return.

This seems almost incredible.  Indeed, the story has more the air of a
witticism, invented to express the sullen humor with which many of the
young men went away, than the sober statement of a fact.  Still, it is
not impossible that such a thing may have actually occurred; for the
veneration of the old Russian families for their own country, and the
contempt with which they had been accustomed for many generations to
look upon foreigners, and upon every thing connected with foreign
manners and customs, were such as might lead in extreme cases, to
almost any degree of fanaticism in resisting the emperor's measures.
At any rate, in a short time there was quite a powerful party formed in
opposition to the foreign influences which Peter was introducing into
the country.

There was no one in the imperial family to whom this party could look
for a leader and head except the Princess Sophia.  The Czar John,
Peter's feeble brother, was dead, otherwise they might have made his
name their rallying cry.  Sophia was still shut up in the convent to
which Peter had sent her on the discovery of her conspiracy against
him.  She was kept very closely guarded there.  Still, the leaders of
the opposition contrived to open a communication with her.  They took
every means to increase and extend the prevailing discontent.  To
people of wealth and rank they represented the heavy taxes which they
were obliged to pay to defray the expenses of the emperor's wild
schemes, and the loss of their own proper influence and power in the
government of the country, they themselves being displaced to make room
for foreigners, or favorites like Menzikoff, that were raised from the
lowest grades of life to posts of honor and profit which ought to be
bestowed upon the ancient nobility alone.  To the poor and ignorant
they advanced other arguments, which were addressed chiefly to their
religious prejudices.  The government were subverting all the ancient
usages of the country, they said, and throwing every thing into the
hands of infidel or heretical foreigners.  The course which the Czar
was pursuing was contrary to the laws of God, they said, who had
forbidden the children of Israel to have any communion with the
unbelieving nations around them, in order that they might not be led
away by them into idolatry.  And so in Russia, they said, the extensive
power of granting permission to any Russian subject to leave the
country vested, according to the ancient usages of the empire, with the
patriarch, the head of the Church--and Peter had violated these usages
in sending away so many of the sons of the nobility without the
patriarch's consent.  There were many other measures, too, which Peter
had adopted, or which he had then in contemplation, that were equally
obnoxious to the charge of impiety.  For instance, he had formed a
plan--and he had even employed engineers to take preliminary steps in
reference to the execution of it--for making a canal from the River
Wolga to the River Don, thus presumptuously and impiously undertaking
to turn the streams one way, when Providence had designed them to flow
in another!  Absurd as many of these representations were, they had
great influence with the mass of the common people.

At length this opposition party became so extended and so strong that
the leaders thought the time had arrived for them to act.  They
accordingly arranged the details of their plot, and prepared to put it
in execution.

The scheme which they formed was this: they were to set fire to some
houses in the night, not far from the royal palace, and when the
emperor came out, as it is said was his custom to do, in order to
assist in extinguishing the flames, they were to set upon him and
assassinate him.

It may seem strange that it should be the custom of the emperor himself
to go out and assist personally in extinguishing fires.  But it so
happened that the houses of Moscow at this time were almost all built
of wood, and they were so combustible, and were, moreover, so much
exposed, on account of the many fires required in the winter season in
so cold a climate, that the city was subject to dreadful
conflagrations.  So great was the danger, that the inhabitants were
continually in dread of it, and all classes vied with each other in
efforts to avert the threatened calamity whenever a fire broke out.
Besides this, there were in those days no engines for throwing water,
and no organized department of firemen.  All this, of course, is
entirely different at the present day in modern cities, where houses
are built of brick or stone, and the arrangements for extinguishing
fires are so complete that an alarm of fire creates no sensation, but
people go on with their business or saunter carelessly along the
streets, while the firemen are gathering, without feeling the least

As soon as they had made sure of the death of the Czar, the
conspirators were to repair to the convent where Sophia was imprisoned,
release her from her confinement, and proclaim her queen.  They were
then to reorganize the Guards, restore all the officers who had been
degraded at the time of Couvansky's rebellion, then massacre all the
foreigners whom Peter had brought into the country, especially his
particular favorites, and so put every thing back upon its ancient

The time fixed for the execution of this plot was the night of the 2d
of February, 1697; but the whole scheme was defeated by what the
conspirators would probably call the treachery of two of their number.
These were two officers of the Guards who had been concerned in the
plot, but whose hearts failed them when the hour arrived for putting it
into execution.  Falling into conversation with each other just before
the time, and finding that they agreed in feeling on the subject, they
resolved at once to go and make a full confession to the Czar.

So they went immediately to the house of Le Fort, where the Czar then
was, and made a confession of the whole affair.  They related all the
details of the plot, and gave the names of the principal persons
concerned in it.

The emperor was at table with Le Fort at the time that he received this
communication.  He listened to it very coolly--manifested no
surprise--but simply rose from the table, ordered a small body of men
to attend him, and, taking the names of the principal conspirators, he
went at once to their several houses and arrested them on the spot.

The leaders having been thus seized, the execution of the plot was
defeated.  The prisoners were soon afterward put to the torture, in
order to compel them to confess their crime, and to reveal the names of
all their confederates.  Whether the names thus extorted from them by
suffering were false or true would of course be wholly uncertain, but
all whom they named were seized, and, after a brief and very informal
trial, all, or nearly all, were condemned to death.  The sentence of
death was executed on them in the most barbarous manner.  A great
column was erected in the market-place in Moscow, and fitted with iron
spikes and hooks, which were made to project from it on every side,
from top to bottom.  The criminals were then brought out one by one,
and first their arms were cut off, then their legs, and finally their
heads.  The amputated limbs were then hung up upon the column by the
hooks, and the heads were fixed to the spikes.  There they remained--a
horrid spectacle, intended to strike terror into all beholders--through
February and March, as long as the weather continued cold enough to
keep them frozen.  When at length the spring came on, and the flesh of
these dreadful trophies began to thaw, they were taken down and thrown
together into a pit, among the bodies of common thieves and murderers.

This was the end of the second conspiracy formed against the life of
Peter the Great.




Objects of the tour--An embassy to be sent--The emperor to go
incognito--His associates--The regency--Disposition of the Guards--The
embassy leaves Moscow--Riga--Not allowed to see the
fortifications--Arrival at Konigsberg--Grand procession in entering the
city--The pages--Curiosity of the people--The escort--Crowds in the
streets--The embassy arrives at its lodgings--Audience of the
king--Presents--Delivery of the letter from the Czar--Its contents--The
king's reply--Grand banquet--Effects of such an embassy--The policy of
modern governments--The people now reserve their earnings for their own
use--How Peter occupied his time--Dantzic--Peter preserves his
incognito--Presents--His dress--His interest in the shipping--Grand
entrance into Holland--Curiosity of the people--Peter enters Amsterdam
privately--Views of the Hollanders--Residence of the Czar--The East India
Company--Peter goes to work--His real object in pursuing this course--His
taste for mechanics--The opportunities and facilities he enjoyed--His old
workshop--Mode of preserving it--The workmen in the yard--Peter's visits
to his friends in Amsterdam--The rich merchant--Peter's manners and
character--The Hague--The embassy at the Hague

At the time when the emperor issued his orders to so many of the sons of
the nobility, requiring them to go and reside for a time in the cities of
western Europe, he formed the design of going himself to make a tour in
that part of the world, for the purpose of visiting the courts and
capitals, and seeing with his own eyes what arts and improvements were to
be found there which might be advantageously introduced into his own
dominions.  In the spring of the year 1697, he thought that the time had
come for carrying this idea into effect.

The plan which he formed was not to travel openly in his own name, for he
knew that in this case a great portion of his time and attention, in the
different courts and capitals, would be wasted in the grand parades,
processions, and ceremonies with which the different sovereigns would
doubtless endeavor to honor his visit.  He therefore determined to travel
incognito, in the character of a private person in the train of an
embassy.  An embassy could proceed more quietly from place to place than
a monarch traveling in his own name; and then besides, if the emperor
occupied only a subordinate place in the train of the embassy, he could
slip away from it to pursue his own inquiries in a private manner
whenever he pleased, leaving the embassadors themselves and those of
their train who enjoyed such scenes to go through all the public
receptions and other pompous formalities which would have been so
tiresome to him.

General Le Fort, who had by this time been raised to a very high position
under Peter's government, was placed at the head of this embassy.  Two
other great officers of state were associated with him.  Then came
secretaries, interpreters, and subordinates of all kinds, in great
numbers, among whom Peter was himself enrolled under a fictitious name.
Peter took with him several young men of about his own age.  Two or three
of these were particular friends of his, whom he wished to have accompany
him for the sake of their companionship on the journey.  There were some
others whom he selected on account of the talent which they had evinced
for mechanical and mathematical studies.  These young men he intended to
have instructed in the art of ship-building in some of the countries
which the embassy were to visit.

Besides these arrangements in respect to the embassy, provision was, of
course, to be made by the emperor for the government of the country
during his absence.  He left the administration in the hands of three
great nobles, the first of whom was one of his uncles, his mother's
brother.  The name of this prince was Naraskin.  The other two nobles
were associated with Naraskin in the regency.  These commissioners were
to have the whole charge of the government of the country during the
Czar's absence.  Peter's little son, whose name was Alexis, and who was
now about seven years old, was also committed to their keeping.

Not having entire confidence in the fidelity of the old Guards, Peter did
not trust the defense of Moscow to them, but he garrisoned the
fortifications in and around the capital with a force of about twelve
thousand men that he had gradually brought together for that purpose.  A
great many of these troops, both officers and men, were foreigners.
Peter placed greater reliance on them on that account, supposing that
they would be less likely to sympathize with and join the people of the
city in case of any popular discontent or disturbances.  The Guards were
sent off into the interior and toward the frontiers, where they could do
no great mischief; even if disposed.

At length, when every thing was ready, the embassy set out from Moscow.
The departure of the expedition from the gates of the city made quite an
imposing scene, so numerous was the party which composed the embassadors'
train.  There were in all about three hundred men.  The principal persons
of the embassy were, of course, splendidly mounted and equipped, and they
were followed by a line of wagons conveying supplies of clothing, stores,
presents for foreign courts, and other baggage.  This baggage-train was,
of course, attended by a suitable escort.  Vast multitudes of people
assembled along the streets and at the gates of the city to see the grand
procession commence its march.

The first place of importance at which the embassy stopped was the city
of Riga, on the shores of the Gulf of Riga, in the eastern part of the
Baltic Sea.[1]  Riga and the province in which it was situated, though
now a part of the Russian empire, then belonged to Sweden.  It was the
principal port on the Baltic in those days, and Peter felt a great
interest in viewing it, as there was then no naval outlet in that
direction from his dominions.  The governor of Riga was very polite to
the embassy, and gave them a very honorable reception in the city, but he
refused to allow the embassadors to examine the fortifications.  It had
been arranged beforehand between the embassadors and Peter that two of
them were to ask permission to see the fortifications, and that Peter
himself was to go around with them as their attendant when they made
their visit, in order that he might make his own observations in respect
to the strength of the works and the mode of their construction.  Peter
was accordingly very much disappointed and vexed at the refusal of the
governor to allow the fortifications to be viewed, and he secretly
resolved that he would seize the first opportunity after his return to
open a quarrel with the King of Sweden, and take this city away from him.

Leaving Riga, the embassy moved on toward the southward and westward
until, at length, they entered the dominions of the King of Prussia.
They came soon to the city of Konigsberg, which was at that time the
capital.  The reception of the embassy at this city was attended with
great pomp and display.  The whole party halted at a small village at the
distance of about a mile from the gates, in order to give time for
completing the arrangements, and to await the arrival of a special
messenger and an escort from the king to conduct them within the walls.

At length, when all was ready, the procession formed about four o'clock
in the afternoon.  First came a troop of horses that belonged to the
king.  They were splendidly caparisoned, but were not mounted.  They were
led by grooms.  Then came an escort of troops of the Royal Guards.  They
were dressed in splendid red uniform, and were preceded by kettle-drums.
Then a company of the Prussian nobility in beautifully-decorated coaches,
each drawn by six horses.  Next came the state carriages of the king.
The king himself was not in either of them, it being etiquette for the
king to remain in his palace, and receive the embassy at a public
audience there after their arrival.  The royal carriages were sent out,
however, as a special though indirect token of respect to the Czar, who
was known to be in the train.

Then came a precession of pages, consisting of those of the king and
those of the embassadors marching together.  These pages were all
beautiful boys, elegantly dressed in characteristic liveries of red laced
with gold.  They marched three together, two of the king's pages in each
rank, with one of the embassadors' between them.  The spectators were
very much interested in these boys, and the boys were likewise doubtless
much interested in each other; but they could not hold any conversation
with each other, for probably those of each set could speak only their
own language.

Next after the pages came the embassy itself.  First there was a line of
thirty-six carriages, containing the principal officers and attendants of
the three embassadors.  In one of these carriages, riding quietly with
the rest as a subordinate in the train, was Peter.  There was doubtless
some vague intimation circulating among the crowd that the Emperor of
Russia was somewhere in the procession, concealed in his disguise.  But
there were no means of identifying him, and, of course, whatever
curiosity the people felt on the subject remained ungratified.

Next after these carriages came the military escort which the embassadors
had brought with them.  The escort was headed by the embassadors' band of
music, consisting of trumpets, kettle-drums, and other martial
instruments.  Then came a body of foot-guards: their uniform was green,
and they were armed with silver battle-axes.  Then came a troop of
horsemen, which completed the escort.  Immediately after the escort there
followed the grand state carriage of the embassy, with the three
embassadors in it.

The procession was closed by a long train of elegant carriages, conveying
various personages of wealth and distinction, who had come from the city
to join in doing honor to the strangers.

As the procession entered the city, they found the streets through which
they were to pass densely lined on each side by the citizens who had
assembled to witness the spectacle.  Through this vast concourse the
embassadors and their suite advanced, and were finally conducted to a
splendid palace which had been prepared for them in the heart of the
city.  The garrison of the city was drawn up at the gates of the palace,
to receive them as they arrived.  When the carriage reached the gate and
the embassadors began to alight, a grand salute was fired from the guns
of the fortress.  The embassadors were immediately conducted to their
several apartments in the palace by the officers who had led the
procession, and then left to repose.  When the officers were about to
withdraw, the embassadors accompanied them to the head of the stairs and
took leave of them there.  The doors of the palace and the halls and
entrances leading to the apartments of the embassadors were guarded by
twenty-four soldiers, who were stationed there as sentinels to protect
the precincts from all intrusion.

Four days after this there was another display, when the embassadors were
admitted to their first public audience with the king.  There was again a
grand procession through the streets, with great crowds assembled to
witness it, and bands of music, and splendid uniforms, and gorgeous
equipages, all more magnificent, if possible, than before.  The
embassadors were conducted in this way to the royal palace.  They entered
the hall, dressed in cloth of gold and silver, richly embroidered, and
adorned with precious stones of great value.  Here they found the king
seated on a throne, and attended by all the principal nobles of his
court.  The embassadors advanced to pay their reverence to his majesty,
bearing in their hands, in a richly-ornamented box, a letter from the
Czar, with which they had been intrusted for him.  There were a number of
attendants also, who were loaded with rich and valuable presents which
the embassadors had brought to offer to the king.  The presents consisted
of the most costly furs, tissues of gold and silver, precious stones, and
the like, all productions of Russia, and of very great value.

The king received the embassadors in a very honorable manner, and made
them an address of welcome in reply to the brief addresses of salutation
and compliment which they first delivered to him.  He received the letter
from their hands and read it.  The presents were deposited on tables
which had been set for the purpose.

The letter stated that the Czar had sent the embassy to assure him of his
desire "to improve the affection and good correspondence which had always
existed, as well between his royal highness and himself as between their
illustrious ancestors."  It said also that "the same embassy being from
thence to proceed to the court of Vienna, the Czar requested the king to
help them on their journey."  And finally it expressed the thanks of the
Czar, for the "engineers and bombardiers" which the king had sent him
during the past year, and who had been so useful to him in the siege of

The king, having read the letter, made a verbal reply to the embassadors,
asking them to thank the Czar in his name for the friendly sentiments
which his letter expressed, and for the splendid embassy which he had
sent to him.

All this time the Czar himself, the author of the letter, was standing
by, a quiet spectator of the scene, undistinguishable from the other
secretaries and attendants that formed the embassadors' train.

After the ceremony of audience was completed the embassadors withdrew.
They were reconducted to their lodgings with the same ceremonies as were
observed in their coming out, and then spent the evening at a grand
banquet provided for them by the elector.  All the principal nobility of
Prussia were present at this banquet, and after it was concluded the town
was illuminated with a great display of fireworks, which continued until

The sending of a grand embassage like this from one royal or imperial
potentate to another was a very common occurrence in those times.  The
pomp and parade with which they were accompanied were intended equally
for the purpose of illustrating the magnificence of the government that
sent them, and of offering a splendid token of respect to the one to
which they were sent.  Of course, the expense was enormous, both to the
sovereign who sent and to the one who received the compliment.  But such
sovereigns as those were very willing to expend money in parades which
exhibited before the world the evidences of their own grandeur and power,
especially as the mass of the people, from whose toils the means of
defraying the cost was ultimately to come, were so completely held in
subjection by military power that they could not even complain, far less
could they take any effectual measures for calling their oppressors to
account.  In governments that are organized at the present day, either by
the establishment of new constitutions, or by the remodeling and
reforming of old ones, all this is changed.  The people understand now
that all the money which is expended by their governments is ultimately
paid by themselves, and they are gradually devising means by which they
can themselves exercise a greater and greater control over these
expenditures.  They retain a far greater portion of the avails of their
labor in their own hands, and expend it in adorning and making
comfortable their own habitations, and cultivating the minds of their
children, while they require the government officials to live, and
travel, and transact their business in a more quiet and unpretending way
than was customary of yore.

Thus, in traveling over most parts of the United States, you will find
the people who cultivate the land living in comfortable, well-furnished
houses, with separate rooms appropriately arranged for the different uses
of the family.  There is a carpet on the parlor floor, and there are
books in the book-case, and good supplies of comfortable clothing in the
closets.  But then our embassadors and ministers in foreign courts are
obliged to content themselves with what they consider very moderate
salaries, which do not at all allow of their competing in style and
splendor with the embassadors sent from the old despotic monarchies of
Europe, under which the people who till the ground live in bare and
wretched huts, and are supplied from year to year with only just enough
of food and clothing to keep them alive and enable them to continue their

But to return to Peter and his embassy.  When the public reception was
over Peter introduced himself privately to the king in his own name, and
the king, in a quiet and unofficial manner, paid him great attention.
There were to be many more public ceremonies, banquets, and parades for
the embassy in the city during their stay, but Peter withdrew himself
entirely from the scene, and went out to a certain bay, which extended
about one hundred and fifty miles along the shore between Konigsberg and
Dantzic, and occupied himself in examining the vessels which were there,
and in sailing to and fro in them.

This bay you will find delineated on any map of Europe.  It extends along
the coast for a considerable distance between Konigsberg and Dantzic, on
the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea.

When the embassadors and their train had finished their banquetings and
celebrations in Konigsberg, Peter joined them again, and the expedition
proceeded to Dantzic.  This was at that time, as it is now, a large
commercial city, being one of the chief ports on the Baltic for the
exportation of grain from Poland and other fertile countries in the

By this time it began to be every where well known that Peter himself was
traveling with the embassy.  Peter would not, however, allow himself to
be recognized at all, or permit any public notice to be taken of his
presence, but went about freely in all the places that he visited with
his own companions, just as if he were a private person, leaving all the
public parades and receptions, and all the banquetings, and other state
and civic ceremonies, to the three embassadors and their immediate train.

A great many elegant and expensive presents, however, were sent in to
him, under pretense of sending them to the embassadors.

The expedition traveled on in this way along the coasts of the Baltic
Sea, on the way toward Holland, which was the country that Peter was most
eager to see.  At every city where they stopped Peter went about
examining the shipping.  He was often attended by some important official
person of the place, but in other respects he went without any ceremony
whatever.  He used to change his dress, putting on, in the different
places that he visited, that which was worn by the common people of the
town, so as not to attract any attention, and not even to be recognized
as a foreigner.  At one port, where there were a great many Dutch vessels
that he wished to see, he wore the pea-jacket and the other sailor-like
dress of a common Dutch skipper,[2] in order that he might ramble about
at his ease along the docks, and mingle freely with the seafaring men,
without attracting any notice at all.

[Illustration: Peter among the shipping.]

The people of Holland were aware that the embassy was coming into their
country, and that Peter himself accompanied it, and they accordingly
prepared to receive the party with the highest marks of honor.  As the
embassy, after crossing the frontier, moved on toward Amsterdam, salutes
were fired from the ramparts of all the great towns that they passed, the
soldiers were drawn out, and civic processions, formed of magistrates and
citizens, met them at the gates to conduct them through the streets.  The
windows, too, and the roofs of all the houses, were crowded with
spectators.  Wherever they stopped at night bonfires and illuminations
were made in honor of their arrival, and sometimes beautiful fireworks
were played off in the evening before their palace windows.

Of course, there was a great desire felt every where among the spectators
to discover which of the personages who followed in the train of the
embassy was the Czar himself.  They found it, however, impossible to
determine this point, so completely had Peter disguised his person, and
merged himself with the rest.  Indeed, in some cases, when the procession
was moving forward with great ceremony, the object of the closest
scrutiny in every part for thousands of eyes, Peter himself was not in it
at all.  This was particularly the case on the occasion of the grand
entry into Amsterdam.  Peter left the party at a distance from the city,
in order to go in quietly the next day, in company with some merchants
with whom he had become acquainted.  And, accordingly, while all
Amsterdam had gathered into the streets, and were watching with the most
intense curiosity every train as it passed, in order to discover which
one contained the great Czar, the great Czar himself was several miles
away, sitting quietly with his friends, the merchants, at a table in a
common country inn.

The government and the people of Holland took a very great interest in
this embassy, not only on account of the splendor of it, and the
magnitude of the imperial power which it represented, but also on account
of the business and pecuniary considerations which were involved.  They
wished very much to cultivate a good understanding with Russia, on
account of the trade and commerce of that country, which was already very
great, and was rapidly increasing.  They determined, therefore, to show
the embassy every mark of consideration and honor.

Besides the measures which they adopted for giving the embassy itself a
grand reception, the government set apart a spacious and splendid house
in Amsterdam for the use of the Czar during his stay.  They did this in a
somewhat private and informal manner, it is true, for they knew that
Peter did not wish that his presence with the embassy should be openly
noticed in any way.  They organized also a complete household for this
palace, including servants, attendants, and officers of all kinds, in a
style corresponding to the dignity of the exalted personage who was
expected to occupy it.

But Peter, when he arrived, would not occupy the palace at all, but went
into a quiet lodging among the shipping, where he could ramble about
without constraint, and see all that was to be seen which could
illustrate the art of navigation.  The Dutch East India Company, which
was then, perhaps, the greatest and most powerful association of
merchants which had ever existed, had large ship-yards, where their
vessels were built, at Saardam.  Saardam was almost a suburb of
Amsterdam, being situated on a deep river which empties into the Y, so
called, which is the harbor of Amsterdam, and only a few miles from the
town.  Peter immediately made arrangements for going to these ship-yards
and spending the time while the embassy remained in that part of the
country in studying the construction of ships, and in becoming acquainted
with the principal builders.  Here, as the historians of the times say,
he entered himself as a common ship-carpenter, being enrolled in the list
of the company's workmen by the name Peter Michaelhoff, which was as
nearly as possible his real name.  He lived here several months, and
devoted himself diligently to his work.  He kept two or three of his
companions with him--those whom he had brought from Moscow as his friends
and associates on the tour; but they, it is said, did not take hold of
the hard work with nearly as much zeal and energy as Peter displayed.
Peter himself worked for the greatest part of every day among the other
workmen, wearing also the same dress that they wore.  When he was tired
of work he would go out on the water, and sail and row about in the
different sorts of boats, so as to make himself practically acquainted
with the comparative effects of the various modes of construction.

The object which Peter had in view in all this was, doubtless, in a great
measure, his own enjoyment for the time being.  He was so much interested
in the subject of ships and ship-building, and in every thing connected
with navigation, that it was a delight to him to be in the midst of such
scenes as were to be witnessed in the company's yards.  He was still but
a young man, and, like a great many other young men, he liked boats and
the water.  It is not probable, notwithstanding what is said by
historians about his performances with the broad-axe, that he really did
much serious work.  Still he was naturally fond of mechanical
occupations, as the fact of his making a wheelbarrow with which to
construct a fortification, in his schoolboy days, sufficiently indicates.

Then, again, his being in the ship-yards so long, nominally as one of the
workmen, gave him undoubtedly great facilities for observing every thing
which it was important that he should know.  Of course, he could not have
seriously intended to make himself an actual and practical
ship-carpenter, for, in the first place, the time was too short.  A trade
like that of a ship-carpenter requires years of apprenticeship to make a
really good workman.  Then, in the second place, the mechanical part of
the work was not the part which it devolved upon him, as a sovereign
intent on building up a navy for the protection of his empire, even to
superintend.  He could not, therefore, have seriously intended to learn
to build ships himself, but only to make himself nominally a workman,
partly for the pleasure which it gave him to place himself so wholly at
home among the shipping, and partly for the sake of the increased
opportunities which he thereby obtained of learning many things which it
was important that he should know.

Travelers visiting Holland at the present day often go out to Saardam to
see the little building that is still shown as the shop which Peter
occupied while he was there.  It is a small wooden building, leaning and
bent with age and decrepitude and darkened by exposure and time.  Within
the last half century, however, in order to save so curious a relic from
farther decay, the proprietors of the place have constructed around and
over it an outer building of brick, which incloses the hut itself like a
case.  The sides of the outer building are formed of large, open arches,
which allow the hut within to be seen.  The ground on which the hut
stands has also been laid out prettily as a garden, and is inclosed by a
wall.  Within this wall, and near the gate, is a very neat and pretty
Dutch cottage, in which the custodian lives who shows the place to

While Peter was in the ship-yards the workmen knew who he was, but all
persons were forbidden to gather around or gaze at him, or to interfere
with him in any way by their notice or their attentions.  They were to
allow him to go and come as he pleased, without any molestation.  These
orders they obeyed as well as they could, as every one was desirous of
treating their visitor in a manner as agreeable to him as possible, so as
to prolong his stay.

Peter varied his amusements, while he thus resided in Saardam, by making
occasional visits in a quiet and private way to certain friends in
Amsterdam.  He very seldom attended any of the great parades and
celebrations which were continually taking place in honor of the embassy,
but went only to the houses of men eminent in private life for their
attainments in particular branches of knowledge, or for their experience
or success as merchants or navigators.  There was one person in
particular that Peter became acquainted with in Amsterdam, whose company
and conversation pleased him very much, and whom he frequently visited.
This was a certain wealthy merchant, whose operations were on so vast a
scale that he was accustomed to send off special expeditions at his own
expense, all over the world, to explore new regions and discover new
fields for his commercial enterprise.  In order also to improve the
accuracy of the methods employed by his ship-masters for ascertaining the
latitude and longitude in navigating their ships, he built an
observatory, and furnished it with the telescopes, quadrants, and other
costly instruments necessary for making the observations--all at his own

With this gentleman, and with the other persons in Amsterdam that Peter
took a fancy to, he lived on very friendly and familiar terms.  He often
came in from Saardam to visit them, and would sometimes spend a
considerable portion of the night in drinking and making merry with them.
He assumed with these friends none of the reserve and dignity of demeanor
that we should naturally associate with the idea of a king.  Indeed, he
was very blunt, and often rough and overbearing in his manners, not
unfrequently doing and saying things which would scarcely be pardoned in
a person of inferior station.  When thwarted or opposed in any way he was
irritable and violent, and he evinced continually a temper that was very
far from being amiable.  In a word, though his society was eagerly sought
by all whom he was willing to associate with, he seems to have made no
real friends.  Those who knew him admired his intelligence and his
energy, and they respected his power, but he was not a man that any one
could love.

Amsterdam, though it was the great commercial centre of Holland--and,
indeed, at that time, of the world--was not the capital of the country.
The seat of government was then, as now, at the Hague.  Accordingly,
after remaining as long at Amsterdam as Peter wished to amuse himself in
the ship-yards, the embassy moved on to the Hague, where it was received
in a very formal and honorable manner by the king and the government.
The presence of Peter could not be openly referred to, but very special
and unusual honors were paid to the embassy in tacit recognition of it.
At the Hague were resident ministers from all the great powers of Europe,
and these all, with one exception, came to pay visits of ceremony to the
embassadors, which visits were of course duly returned with great pomp
and parade.  The exception was the minister of France.  There was a
coolness existing at this time between the Russian and the French
governments on account of something Peter had done in respect to the
election of a king of Poland, which displeased the French king, and on
this account the French minister declined taking part in the special
honors paid to the embassy.

The Hague was at this time perhaps the most influential and powerful
capital of Europe.  It was the centre, in fact, of all important
political movements and intrigues for the whole Continent.  The embassy
accordingly paused here, to take some rest from the fatigues and
excitements of their long journey, and to allow Peter time to form and
mature plans for future movements and operations.

[1] For the situation of Riga in relation to Moscow, and for that of the
other places visited by the embassy, the reader must not fail to refer to
a map of Europe.

[2] A skipper is the captain of a small vessel.




Peter compares the shipping of different nations--He determines to
visit England--King William favors Peter's plans--Peter leaves
Holland--Helvoetsluys--Arrival in England--His reception in London--The
Duke of Leeds--Bishop Burnet--The bishop's opinion of Peter's
character--Designs of Providence--Peter's curiosity--His conversations
with the bishop--Peter takes a house "below bridge"--How he spent his
time--Peter's dress--Curiosity in respect to him--His visit to the
Tower--The various sights and shows of London--Workmen engaged--Peter's
visit to Portsmouth and Spithead--Situation of Spithead--Appearance of
the men-of-war--Grand naval spectacle--Present of a yacht--Peter sets
sail--His treatment of his workmen--Wages retained--The
engineer--Voyage to Holland--Peter rejoins the embassy--The Emperor
Leopold--Interview with the Emperor of Germany--Feasts and
festivities--Ceremonies--Bad tidings--Plans changed--Designs
abandoned--Return to Moscow

While the embassy itself was occupied with the parades and ceremonies
at the Hague, and at Utrecht, where they had a grand interview with the
States-General, and at other great political centres, Peter traveled to
and fro about Holland, visiting the different ports, and examining the
shipping that he found in them, with the view of comparing the
different models; for there were vessels in these ports from almost all
the maritime countries of Europe.  His attention was at last turned to
some English ships, which pleased him very much.  He liked the form of
them better than that of the Dutch ships that he had seen.  He soon
made the acquaintance of a number of English ship-masters and
ship-carpenters, and obtained from them, through an interpreter of
course, a great deal of information in respect to the state of the art
of ship-building in their country.  He heard that in England naval
carpentry had been reduced to a regular science, and that the forms and
models of the vessels built there were determined by fixed mathematical
principles, which every skillful and intelligent workman was expected
to understand and to practice upon; whereas in Holland the carpenters
worked by rote, each new set following their predecessors by a sort of
mechanical imitation, without being governed by any principles or
theory at all.

Peter immediately determined that he would go to England, and study the
English methods himself on the spot, as he had already studied those of

The political relations between England and Holland were at this time
of a very intimate character, the King of England being William, Prince
of Orange.[1]  The king, when he heard of Peter's intention, was much
pleased, and determined to do all in his power to promote his views in
making the journey.  He immediately provided the Czar with a number of
English attendants to accompany him on his voyage, and to remain with
him in England during his stay.  Among these were interpreters,
secretaries, valets, and a number of cooks and other domestic servants.
These persons were paid by the King of England himself, and were
ordered to accompany Peter to England, to remain with him all the time
that he was there, and then to return with him to Holland, so that
during the whole period of his absence he should have no trouble
whatever in respect to his personal comforts or wants.

These preparations having been all made, the Czar left the embassy, and
taking with him the company of servants which the king had provided,
and also the few private friends who had been with him all the time
since leaving Moscow, he sailed from a certain port in the
south-western part of Holland, called Helvoetsluys, about the middle of
the month of January.

He arrived without any accident at London.  Here he at first took up
his abode in a handsome house which the king had ordered to be provided
and furnished for him.  This house was in a genteel part of the town,
where the noblemen and other persons belonging to the court resided.
It was very pleasantly situated near the river, and the grounds
pertaining to it extended down to the water side.  Still it was far
away from the part of the city which was devoted to commerce and the
shipping, and Peter was not very well satisfied with it on that
account.  He, however, went to it at first, and continued to occupy it
for some time.

In this house the Czar was visited by a great number of the nobility,
and he visited them in return.  He also received particular attentions
from such members of the royal family as were then in London.  But the
person whose society pleased him most was one of the nobility, who,
like himself, tools: a great interest in maritime affairs.  This was
the Duke of Leeds.  The duke kept a number of boats at the foot of his
gardens in London, and he and Peter used often to go out together in
the river, and row and sail in them.

Among other attentions which were paid to Peter by the government
during his stay in London, one was the appointment of a person to
attend upon him for the purpose of giving him, at any time, such
explanations or such information as he might desire in respect to the
various institutions of England, whether those relating to government,
to education, or to religion.  The person thus appointed was Bishop
Burnet, a very distinguished dignitary of the Church.  The bishop
could, of course, only converse with Peter through interpreters, but
the practice of conversing in that way was very common in those days,
and persons were specially trained and educated to translate the
language of one person to another in an easy and agreeable manner.  In
this way Bishop Burnet held from time to time various interviews with
the Czar, but it seems that he did not form a very favorable opinion of
his temper and character.  The bishop, in an account of these
interviews which he subsequently wrote, said that Peter was a man of
strong capacity, and of much better general education than might have
been expected from the manner of life which he had led, but that he was
of a very hot and violent temper, and that he was very brutal in his
language and demeanor when he was in a passion.  The bishop expressed
himself quite strongly on this point, saying that he could not but
adore the depth of the providence of God that had raised such a furious
man to so absolute an authority over so great a part of the world.

It was seen in the end how wise was the arrangement of Providence in
the selection of this instrument for the accomplishment of its
designs--for the reforms which, notwithstanding the violence of his
personal character, and the unjust and cruel deeds which he sometimes
performed, Peter was the means of introducing, and those to which the
changes that he made afterward led, have advanced, and are still
advancing more and more every year, the whole moral, political, and
social condition of all the populations of Northern Europe and Asia,
and have instituted a course of progress and improvement which will,
perhaps, go on, without being again arrested, to the end of time.

The bishop says that he found Peter somewhat curious to learn what the
political and religious institutions of England were, but that he did
not manifest any intention or desire to introduce them into his own
country.  The chief topic which interested him, even in talking with
the bishop, was that of his purposes and plans in respect to ships and
shipping.  He gave the bishop  an account of what he had done, and of
what he intended to do, for the elevation and improvement of his
people; but all his plans of this kind were confined to such
improvements as would tend to the extension and aggrandizement of his
own power.  In other words, the ultimate object of the reforms which he
was desirous of introducing was not the comfort and happiness of the
people themselves, but his own exaltation and glory among the
potentates of the earth as their hereditary and despotic sovereign.

After remaining some time in the residence which the king had provided
for him at the court end of the town, Peter contrived to have a house
set apart for him "below bridge," as the phrase was--that is, among the
shipping.  There was but one bridge across the Thames in those days,
and the position of that one, of course, determined the limit of that
part of the river and town that could be devoted to the purposes of
commerce and navigation, for ships, of course, could not go above it.
The house which was now provided for Peter was near the royal
ship-yard.  There was a back gate which opened from the yard of the
house into the ship-yard, so that Peter could go and come when he
pleased.  Peter remained in this new lodging for some time.  He often
went into the ship-yard to watch the men at their operations, and while
there would often take up the tools and work with them.  At other times
he would ramble about the streets of London in company with his two or
three particular friends, examining every thing which was new or
strange to him, and talking with his companions in respect to the
expediency or feasibility of introducing the article or the usage,
whatever it might be, as an improvement, into his own dominions.

In these excursions Peter was sometimes dressed in the English
citizen's dress, and sometimes he wore the dress of a common sailor.
In the latter costume he found that he could walk about more freely on
the wharves and along the docks without attracting observation, but,
notwithstanding all that he could do to disguise himself, he was often
discovered.  Some person, perhaps, who had seen him and his friends in
the ship-yard, would recognize him and point him out.  Then it would be
whispered from one to another among the by-standers that that was the
Russian Emperor, and people would follow him where he went, or gather
around him where he was standing.  In such cases as this, as soon as
Peter found that he was recognized, and was beginning to attract
attention, he always went immediately away.

Among other objects of interest which attracted Peter's attention in
London was the Tower, where there was kept then, as now, an immense
collection of arms of all kinds.  This collection consists not only of
a vast store of the weapons in use at the present day, laid up there to
be ready for service whenever they may be required, but also a great
number and variety of specimens of those which were employed in former
ages, but are now superseded by new inventions.  Peter, as might
naturally have been expected, took a great deal of interest in
examining these collections.

In respect to all the more ordinary objects of interest for strangers
in London, the shops, the theatres, the parks, the gay parties given by
the nobility at the West End, and other such spectacles, Peter saw them
all, but he paid very little attention to them.  His thoughts were
almost entirely engrossed by subjects connected with his navy.  He
found, as he had expected from what he heard in Holland, that the
English ship-carpenters had reduced their business quite to a system,
being accustomed to determine the proportions of the model by fixed
principles, and to work, in the construction of the ship, from drafts
made by rule.  When he was in the ship-yard he studied this subject
very attentively; and although it was, of course, impossible that in so
short a time he should make himself fully master of it, he was still
able to obtain such a general insight into the nature of the method as
would very much assist him in making arrangements for introducing it
into his own country.

There was another measure which he took that was even more important
still.  He availed himself of every opportunity which was afforded him,
while engaged in the ship-yards and docks, to become acquainted with
the workmen, especially the head workmen of the yards, and he engaged a
number of them to go to Russia, and enter into his service there in the
work of building his navy.

In a word, the Czar was much better pleased with the manner in which
the work of ship-building was carried on in England than with any thing
that he had seen in Holland; so much so that he said he wished that he
had come directly to England at first, inasmuch as now, since he had
seen how much superior were the English methods, he considered the long
stay which he had made in Holland as pretty nearly lost time.

After remaining as long and learning as much in the dock-yards in and
below London as he thought the time at his command would allow, Peter
went to Portsmouth to visit the royal navy at anchor there.  The
arrangement which nature has made of the southern coast of England
seems almost as if expressly intended for the accommodation of a great
national and mercantile marine.  In the first place, at the town of
Portsmouth, there is a deep and spacious harbor entirely surrounded and
protected by land.  Then at a few miles distant, off the coast, lies
the Isle of Wight, which brings under shelter a sheet of water not less
than five miles wide and twenty miles long, where all the fleets and
navies of the world might lie at anchor in safety.  There is an open
access to this sound both from the east and from the west, and yet the
shores curve in such a manner that both entrances are well protected
from the ingress of storms.

Directly opposite to Portsmouth, and within this inclosed sea, is a
place where the water is just of the right depth, and the bottom of
just the right conformation for the convenient anchoring of ships of
war.  This place is called Spithead, and it forms one of the most
famous anchoring grounds in the world.  It is here that the vast fleets
of the English navy assemble, and here the ships come to anchor, when
returning home from their distant voyages.  The view of these
grim-looking sea-monsters, with their double and triple rows of guns,
lying quietly at their moorings, as seen by the spectator from the deck
of the steamer which glides through and among them, on the way from
Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight, is extremely imposing.  Indeed, when
considered by a mind capable of understanding in some degree the vast
magnitude and extension of the power which lies thus reposing there,
the spectacle becomes truly sublime.

In order to give Peter a favorable opportunity to see the fleet at
Spithead, the King of England commissioned the admiral in command of
the navy to accompany him to Portsmouth, and to put the fleet to sea,
with the view of exhibiting a mock naval engagement in the Channel.
Nothing could exceed the pleasure which this spectacle afforded to the
Czar.  He expressed his admiration of it in the most glowing terms, and
said that he verily believed that an admiral of the English fleet was a
happier man than the Czar of Muscovy.

At length, when the time arrived for Peter to set out on his return to
his own dominions, the King of England made him a present of a
beautiful yacht, which had been built for his own use in his voyages
between England and Holland.  The name of the yacht was the Royal
Transport.  It was an armed vessel, carrying twenty-four guns, and was
well-built, and richly finished and furnished in every respect.  The
Czar set sail from England in this yacht, taking with him the
companions that he had brought with him into England, and also a
considerable number of the persons whom he had engaged to enter into
his service in Russia.  Some of these persons were to be employed in
the building of ships, and others in the construction of a canal to
connect the River Don with the River Wolga.  The Don flows into the
Black and the Wolga into the Caspian Sea, and the object of the canal
was to allow Peter's vessels to pass from one sea into the other at
pleasure.  As soon as the canal should be opened, ships could be built
on either river for use in either sea.

The persons who had been engaged for these various purposes were
promised, of course, very large rewards to induce them to leave their
country.  Many of them afterward had occasion bitterly to regret their
having entered the service of such a master.  They complained that,
after their arrival in Russia, Peter treated them in a very unjust and
arbitrary manner.  They were held as prisoners more than as salaried
workmen, being very closely watched and guarded to prevent their making
their escape and going back to their own country before finishing what
Peter wished them to do.  Then, a large portion of their pay was kept
back, on the plea that it was necessary for the emperor to have
security in his own hands for their fidelity in the performance of
their work, and for their remaining at their posts until their work was
done.  There was one gentleman in particular, a Scotch mathematician
and engineer, who had been educated at the University of Aberdeen, that
complained of the treatment which he received in a full and formal
protest, which he addressed to Peter in writing, and which is still on
record.  He makes out a very strong case in respect to the injustice
with which he was treated.

But, however disappointed these gentlemen may have been in the end,
they left England in the emperor's beautiful yacht, much elated with
the honor they had received in being selected by such a potentate for
the execution of important trusts in a distant land, and with high
anticipations of the fame and fortune which they expected to acquire
before the time should arrive for them to return to their own country.
From England the yacht sailed to Holland, where Peter disembarked, in
order to join the embassy and accompany them in their visits to some
other courts in Central Europe before returning home.

He first went to Vienna.  He still nominally preserved his incognito;
but the Emperor Leopold, who was at that time the Emperor of Germany,
gave him a very peculiar sort of reception.  He came out to the door of
his antechamber to meet Peter at the head of a certain back staircase
communicating with the apartment, which was intended for his own
private use.  Peter was accompanied by General Le Fort, the chief
embassador, at this interview, and he was conducted up the staircase by
two grand officers of the Austrian court--the grand chamberlain and the
grand equerry.  After the two potentates had been introduced to each
other, the emperor, who had taken off his hat to bow to the Czar, put
it on again, but Peter remained uncovered, on the ground that he was
not at that time acting in his own character as Czar.  The emperor,
seeing this, took off his hat again, and both remained uncovered during
the interview.

After this a great many parades and celebrations took place in Vienna,
all ostensibly in honor of the embassy, but really and truly in honor
of Peter himself, who still preserved his incognito.  At many of these
festivities Peter attended, taking his place with the rest of the
subordinates in the train of the embassy, but he never appeared in his
own true character.  Still he was known, and he was the object of a
great many indirect but very marked attentions.  On one occasion, for
example, there was a masked ball in the palace of the emperor; Peter
appeared there dressed as a peasant of West Friesland, which is a part
of North Holland, where the costumes worn by the common people were
then, as indeed they are at the present day, very marked and peculiar.
The Emperor of Germany appeared also at this ball in a feigned
character--that of a host at an entertainment, and he had thirty-two
pages in attendance upon him, all dressed as butlers.  In the course of
the evening one of the pages brought out to the emperor a very curious
and costly glass, which he filled with wine and presented to the
emperor, who then approached Peter and drank to the health of the
peasant of West Friesland, saying at the same time, with a meaning
look, that he was well aware of the inviolable affection which the
peasant felt for the Czar of Muscovy.  Peter, in return, drank to the
health of the host, saying he was aware of the inviolable affection he
felt for the Emperor of Germany.

These toasts were received by the whole company with great applause,
and after they were drunk the emperor gave Peter the curious glass from
which he had drunk, desiring him to keep it as a souvenir of the

These festivities in honor of the embassy at Vienna were at length
suddenly interrupted by the arrival of tidings from Moscow that a
rebellion had broken out there against Peter's government.  This
intelligence changed at once all Peter's plans.  He had intended to go
to Venice and to Rome, but he now at once abandoned these designs, and
setting out abruptly from Vienna, with General Le Fort, and a train of
about thirty persons, he traveled with the utmost possible dispatch to

[1] William, Prince of Orange, was descended on the female side from
the English royal family, and was a Protestant.  Accordingly, when
James II., and with him the Catholic branch of the royal family of
England, was expelled from the throne, the British Parliament called
upon William to ascend it, he being the next heir on the Protestant




Precautions taken by the Czar--His uneasiness--His fury against his
enemies--His revolting appearance--Imperfect
communication--Conspiracy--Arguments used--Details of the plot--Pretext
of the guards--They commence their march--Alarm in Moscow--General
Gordon--A parley with the rebels--Influence of the Church--The clergy on
the side of the rebels--Conservatism--The Russian clergy--The armies
prepare for battle--The insurgents defeated--Massacre of
prisoners--Confession--Peter's arrival at Moscow--His terrible
severity--Peter becomes himself an executioner--The Guards--Gibbets--The
writer of the address to Sophia--The old Russian nobility--Arrival of
artisans--Retirement of Sophia--Her death

It will be recollected by the reader that Peter, before he set out on his
tour, took every possible precaution to guard against the danger of
disturbances in his dominions during his absence.  The Princess Sophia
was closely confined in her convent.  All that portion of the old Russian
Guards that he thought most likely to be dissatisfied with his proposed
reforms, and to take part with Sophia, he removed to fortresses at a
great distance from Moscow.  Moscow itself was garrisoned with troops
selected expressly with reference to their supposed fidelity to his
interests, and the men who were to command them, as well as the great
civil officers to whom the administration of the government was committed
during his absence, were appointed on the same principle.

But, notwithstanding all these precautions, Peter did not feel entirely
safe.  He was well aware of Sophia's ambition, and of her skill in
intrigue, and during the whole progress of his tour he anxiously watched
the tidings which he received from Moscow, ready to return at a moment's
warning in case of necessity.  He often spoke on this subject to those
with whom he was on terms of familiar intercourse.  On such occasions he
would get into a great rage in denouncing his enemies, and in threatening
vengeance against them in case they made any movement to resist his
authority while he was away.  At such times he would utter most dreadful
imprecations against those who should dare to oppose him, and would work
himself up into such a fury as to give those who conversed with him an
exceedingly unfavorable opinion of his temper and character.  The ugly
aspect which his countenance and demeanor exhibited at such times was
greatly aggravated by a nervous affection of the head and face which
attacked him, particularly when he was in a passion, and which produced
convulsive twitches of the muscles that drew his head by jerks to one
side, and distorted his face in a manner that was dreadful to behold.  It
was said that this disorder was first induced in his childhood by some
one of the terrible frights through which he passed.  However this may
have been, the affection seemed to increase as he grew older, and as the
attacks of it were most decided and violent when he was in a passion,
they had the effect, in connection with his coarse and dreadful language
and violent demeanor, to make him appear at such times more like some
ugly monster of fiction than like a man.

The result, in respect to the conduct of his enemies during his absence,
was what he feared.  After he had been gone away for some months they
began to conspire against him.  The means of communication between
different countries were quite imperfect in those days, so that very
little exact information came back to Russia in respect to the emperor's
movements.  The nobles who were opposed to him began to represent to the
people that he had gone nobody knew where, and that it was wholly
uncertain whether he would ever return.  Besides, if he did return, they
said it would only be to bring with him a fresh importation of foreign
favorites and foreign manners, and to proceed more vigorously than ever
in his work of superseding and subverting all the good old customs of the
land, and displacing the ancient native families from all places of
consideration and honor, in order to make room for the swarms of
miserable foreign adventurers that he would bring home with him in his

By these and similar representations the opposition so far increased and
strengthened their party that, at length, they matured their arrangements
for an open outbreak.  Their plan was, first, to take possession of the
city by means of the Guards, who were to be recalled for this purpose
from their distant posts, and by their assistance to murder all the
foreigners.  They were then to issue a proclamation declaring that Peter,
by leaving the country and remaining so long away, had virtually
abdicated the government; and also a formal address to the Princess
Sophia, calling upon her to ascend the throne in his stead.

In executing this plan, negotiations were first cautiously opened with
the Guards, and they readily acceded to the proposals made to them.  A
committee of three persons was appointed to draw up the address to
Sophia, and the precise details of the movements which were to take place
on the arrival of the Guards at the gates of Moscow were all arranged.
The Guards, of course, required some pretext for leaving their posts and
coming toward the city, independent of the real cause, for the
conspirators within the city were not prepared to rise and declare the
throne vacant until the Guards had actually arrived.  Accordingly, while
the conspirators remained quiet, the Guards began to complain of various
grievances under which they suffered, particularly that they were not
paid their wages regularly, and they declared their determination to
march to Moscow and obtain redress.  The government--that is, the regency
that Peter had left in charge--sent out deputies, who attempted to pacify
them, but could not succeed.  The Guards insisted that they would go with
their complaints to Moscow.  They commenced their march.  The number of
men was about ten thousand.  They pretended that they were only going to
the city to represent their case themselves directly to the government,
and then to march back again in a peaceable manner.  They wished to know,
too, they said, what had become of the Czar.  They could not depend upon
the rumors which came to them at so great a distance, and they were
determined to inform themselves on the spot whether he were alive or
dead, and when he was coming home.

The deputies returned with all speed to Moscow, and reported that the
Guards were on their march in full strength toward the city.  The whole
city was thrown into a state of consternation.  Many of the leading
families, anticipating serious trouble, moved away.  Others packed up and
concealed their valuables.  The government, too, though not yet
suspecting the real design of the Guards in the movement which they were
making, were greatly alarmed.  They immediately ordered a large armed
force to go and meet the insurgents.  This force was commanded by General
Gordon, the officer whom Peter had made general-in-chief of the army
before he set out on his tour.

General Gordon came up with the rebels about forty miles from Moscow.  As
soon as he came near to them he halted, and sent forward a deputation
from his camp to confer with the leaders, in the hope of coming to some
amicable settlement of the difficulty.  This deputation consisted of
Russian nobles of ancient and established rank and consideration in the
country, who had volunteered to accompany the general in his expedition.
General Gordon himself was one of the hated foreigners, and of course his
appearance, if he had gone himself to negotiate with the rebels, would
have perhaps only exasperated and inflamed them more than ever.

The deputation held a conference with the leaders of the Guards, and made
them very conciliatory offers.  They promised that if they would return
to their duty the government would not only overlook the serious offense
which they had committed in leaving their posts and marching upon Moscow,
but would inquire into and redress all their grievances.  But the Guards
refused to be satisfied.  They were determined, they said, to march to
Moscow.  They wished to ascertain for themselves whether Peter was dead
or alive, and if alive, what had become of him.  They therefore were
going on, and, if General Gordon and his troops attempted to oppose them,
they would fight it out and see which was the strongest.

In civil commotions of this kind occurring in any of the ancient
non-Protestant countries in Europe, it is always a question of the utmost
moment which side the Church and the clergy espouse.  It is true that the
Church and the clergy do not fight themselves, and so do not add any
thing to the physical strength of the party which they befriend, but they
add enormously to its moral strength, that is, to its confidence and
courage.  Men have a sort of instinctive respect and fear for constituted
authorities of any kind, and, though often willing to plot against them,
are still very apt to falter and fall back when the time comes for the
actual collision.  The feeling that, after all, they are in the wrong in
fighting against the government of their country, weakens them extremely,
and makes them ready to abandon the struggle in panic and dismay on the
first unfavorable turn of fortune.  But if they have the Church and the
clergy on their side, this state of things is quite changed.  The
sanction of religion--the thought that they are fighting in the cause of
God and of duty, nerves their arms, and gives them that confidence in the
result which is almost essential to victory.

It was so in this case.  There was no class in the community more opposed
to the Czar's proposed improvements and reforms than the Church.  Indeed,
it is always so.  The Church and the clergy are always found in these
countries on the side of opposition to progress and improvement.  It is
not that they are really opposed to improvement itself for its own sake,
but that they are so afraid of change.  They call themselves
Conservatives, and wish to preserve every thing as it is.  They hate the
process of pulling down.  Now, if a thing is good, it is better, of
course, to preserve it; but, on the other hand, if it is bad, it is
better that it should be pulled down.  When, therefore, you are asked
whether you are a Conservative or not, reply that that depends upon the
character of the institution or the usage which is attacked.  If it is
good, let it stand.  If it is bad, let it be destroyed.

In the case of Peter's proposed improvements and reforms the Church and
the clergy were Conservatives of the most determined character.  Of
course, the plotters of the conspiracy in Moscow were in communication
with the patriarch and the leading ecclesiastics in forming their plans;
and in arranging for the marching of the Guards to the capital they took
care to have priests with them to encourage them in the movement, and to
assure them that in opposing the present government and restoring Sophia
to power they were serving the cause of God and religion by promoting the
expulsion from the country of the infidel foreigners that were coming in
in such numbers, and subverting all the good old usages and customs of
the realm.

It was this sympathy on the part of the clergy which gave the officers
and soldiers of the Guards their courage and confidence in daring to
persist in their march to Moscow in defiance of the army of General
Gordon, brought out to oppose them.

The two armies approached each other.  General Gordon, as is usual in
such cases, ordered a battery of artillery which he had brought up in the
road before the Guards to fire, but he directed that the guns should be
pointed so high that the balls should go over the heads of the enemy.
His object was to intimidate them.  But the effect was the contrary.  The
priests, who had come into the army of the insurgents to encourage them
in the fight, told them that a miracle had been performed.  God had
averted the balls from them, they said.  They were fighting for the honor
of his cause and for the defense of his holy religion, and they might
rely upon it that he would not suffer them to be harmed.

But these assurances of the priests proved, unfortunately for the poor
Guards, to be entirely unfounded.  When General Gordon found that firing
over the heads of the rebels did no good, ho gave up at once all hope of
any adjustment of the difficulty, and he determined to restrain himself
no longer, but to put forth the whole of his strength, and kill and
destroy all before him in the most determined and merciless manner.  A
furious battle followed, in which the Guards were entirely defeated.  Two
or three thousand of them were killed, and all the rest were surrounded
and made prisoners.

The first step taken by General Gordon, with the advice of the Russian
nobles who had accompanied him, was to count off the prisoners and hang
every tenth man.  The next was to put the officers to the torture, in
order to compel them to confess what their real object was in marching to
Moscow.  After enduring their tortures as long as human nature could bear
them, they confessed that the movement was a concerted one, made in
connection with a conspiracy within the city, and that the object was to
subvert the present government, and to liberate the Princess Sophia and
place her upon the throne.  They also gave the names of a number of
prominent persons in Moscow who, they said, were the leaders of the

It was in this state of the affair that the tidings of what had occurred
reached Peter in Vienna, as is related in the last chapter.  He
immediately set out on his return to Moscow in a state of rage and fury
against the rebels that it would be impossible to describe.  As he
arrived at the capital, he commenced an inquisition into the affair by
putting every body to the torture whom he supposed to be implicated as a
leader in it.  From the agony of these sufferers he extorted the names of
innumerable victims, who, as fast as they were named, were seized and put
to death.  There were a great many of the ancient nobles thus condemned,
a great many ladies of high rank, and large numbers of priests.  These
persons were all executed, or rather massacred, in the most reckless and
merciless manner.  Some were beheaded; some were broken on the wheel, and
then left to die in horrible agonies.  Many were buried alive, their
heads only being left above the ground.  It is said that Peter took such
a savage delight in these punishments, that he executed many of the
victims with his own hands.  At one time, when half intoxicated at a
banquet, he ordered twenty of his prisoners to be brought in, and then,
with his brandy before him, which was his favorite drink, and which he
often drank to excess, he caused them to be led, one after another, to
the block, that he might cut off their heads himself.  He took a drink of
brandy after each execution while the officers were bringing forward the
next man.  He was just an hour, it was said, in cutting off the twenty
heads, which allows of an average of three minutes to each man.  This
story is almost too horrible to be believed, but, unfortunately, it
comports too well with the general character which Peter has always
sustained in the opinion of mankind in respect to the desperate and
reckless cruelty to which he could be aroused under the influence of
intoxication and anger.

[Illustration: Peter turning executioner.]

About two thousand of the Guards were beheaded.  The bodies of these men
were laid upon the ground in a public place, arranged in rows, with their
heads lying beside them.  They covered more than an acre of ground.  Here
they were allowed to lie all the remainder of the winter, as long, in
fact, as the flesh continued frozen, and then, when the spring came on,
they were thrown together into a deep ditch, dug to receive them, and
thus were buried.

There were also a great number of gibbets set up on all the roads leading
to Moscow, and upon these gibbets men were hung, and the bodies allowed
to remain there, like the beheaded Guards upon the ground, until the

As for the Princess Sophia, she was still in the convent where Peter had
placed her, the conspirators not having reached the point of liberating
her before their plot was discovered.  Peter, however, caused the three
authors of the address, which was to have been made to Sophia, calling
upon her to assume the crown, to be sent to the convent, and there hung
before Sophia's windows.  And then, by his orders, the arm of the
principal man among them was cut off, the address was put into his hand,
and, when the fingers had stiffened around it, the limb was fixed to the
wall in Sophia's chamber, as if in the act of offering her the address,
and ordered to remain so until the address should drop, of itself, upon
the floor.

Such were the horrible means by which Peter attempted to strike terror
into his subjects, and to put down the spirit of conspiracy and
rebellion.  He doubtless thought that it was only by such severities as
these that the end could be effectually attained.  At all events, the end
was attained.  The rebellion was completely suppressed, and all open
opposition to the progress of the Czar's proposed improvements and
reforms ceased.  The few leading nobles who adhered to the old customs
and usages of the realm retired from all connection with public affairs,
and lived thenceforth in seclusion, mourning, like good Conservatives,
the triumph of the spirit of radicalism and innovation which was leading
the country, as they thought, to certain ruin.  The old Guards, whom it
had been proved so utterly impossible to bring over to Peter's views,
were disbanded, and other troops, organized on a different system, were
embodied in their stead.  By this time the English ship-builders, and the
other mechanics and artisans that Peter had engaged, began to arrive in
the country, and the way was open for the emperor to go on vigorously in
the accomplishment of his favorite and long-cherished plans.

The Princess Sophia, worn out with the agitations and dangers through
which she had passed, and crushed in spirit by the dreadful scenes to
which her brother had exposed her, now determined to withdraw wholly from
the scene.  She took the veil in the convent where she was confined, and
went as a nun into the cloisters with the other sisters.  The name that
she assumed was Marpha.

Of course, all her ambitious aspirations were now forever extinguished,
and the last gleam of earthly hope faded away from her mind.  She pined
away under the influences of disappointment, hopeless vexation, and
bitter grief for about six years, and then the nuns of the convent
followed the body of sister Marpha to the tomb.




Peter begins his proposed reforms--Remodeling the army--Changes of
dress--The officers--New appointments--Motives and object of the
Czar--Means of revenue--Mysterious power--The secret of it--Management
of a standing army--Artful contrivances--Despotism _versus_
freedom--Policy of the American people--Standing armies--The American
government is weak--The people reserve their strength--Peter's
policy--The Church--Conservatism of the clergy--The patriarch--Ancient
custom--The emperor on the procession--Emblems--Peter's reflections on
the subject--Peter's determination--He proceeds cautiously--Contest
with the bishops--Peter is victorious--Other reforms--Collection of the
revenues--New revenue system--Manners and customs of the
people--Mustaches and beards--The long dresses suppressed--Effect of
ridicule--The jester's marriage--Curious sleeves--Mode of manoeuvring
the sleeve--The boyars in the streets--Long trains of attendants--Peter
changes the whole system--Motives of the Czar--Ultimate effect of his

As soon as Peter had sufficiently glutted his vengeance on those whom
he chose to consider, whether justly or unjustly, as implicated in the
rebellion, he turned his attention at once to the work of introducing
the improvements and reforms which had been suggested to him by what he
had seen in the western countries of Europe.  There was a great deal of
secret hostility to the changes which he thus wished to make, although
every thing like open opposition to his will had been effectually put
down by the terrible severity of his dealings with the rebels.  He
continued to urge his plans of reform during the whole course of his
reign, and though he met from time to time with a great variety of
difficulties in his efforts to carry them into effect, he was in the
end triumphantly successful in establishing and maintaining them.  I
shall proceed to give a general account of these reforms in this
chapter, notwithstanding that the work of introducing them extended
over a period of many years subsequent to this time.

The first thing to which the Czar gave his attention was the complete
remodeling of his army.  He established new regiments in place of the
old Guards, and put his whole army on a new footing.  He abolished the
dress which the Guards had been accustomed to wear--an ancient
Muscovite costume, which, like the dress of the Highlanders of
Scotland, was strongly associated in the minds of the men with ancient
national customs, many of which the emperor now wished to abolish.
Instead of this old costume the emperor dressed his new troops in a
modern military uniform.  This was not only much more convenient than
the old dress, but the change exerted a great influence in
disenthralling the minds of the men from the influence of old ideas and
associations.  It made them feel at once as if they were new men,
belonging to a new age--one marked by a new and higher civilization
than they had been accustomed to in former years.  The effect which was
produced by this simple change was very marked--so great is the
influence of dress and other outward symbols on the sentiments of the
mind and on the character.

Peter had made a somewhat similar change to this, in the case of his
household troops and private body-guard, at the suggestion of General
Le Fort, some time previous to this period, but now he carried the same
reform into effect in respect to his whole army.

In addition to these improvements in the dress and discipline of the
men, Peter adopted an entirely new system in officering his troops.  A
great many of the old officers--all those who were proved or even
suspected of being hostile to him and to his measures--had been
beheaded or sent into banishment, and others still had been dismissed
from the service.  Peter filled all these vacant posts by bringing
forward and appointing the sons of the nobility, making his selections
from those families who were either already inclined to his side, or
who he supposed might be brought over by the influence of appointments
and honors conferred upon their sons.

Of course, the great object of the Czar in thus reorganizing his army
and increasing the military strength of the empire was not the more
effectual protection of the country from foreign enemies, or from any
domestic violence which might threaten to disturb the peace or endanger
the property of the public, but only the confirming and perpetuating
his own power as the sovereign ruler of it.  It is true that such
potentates as Peter really desire that the countries over which they
rule should prosper, and should increase in wealth and population; but
then they do this usually only as the proprietor of an estate might
wish to improve his property, that is, simply with an eye to his own
interest as the owner of it.  In reforming his army, and placing it, as
he did, on a new and far more efficient footing than before, Peter's
main inducement was to increase and secure his own power.  He wished
also, doubtless, to preserve the peace of the country, in order that
the inhabitants might go on regularly in the pursuit of their
industrial occupations, for their ability to pay the taxes required for
the large revenues which he wished to raise would increase or diminish,
he knew very well, just in proportion to the productiveness of the
general industry; still, his own exaltation and grandeur were the
ultimate objects in view.

Young persons, when they read in history of the power which many great
tyrants have exercised, and the atrocious crimes which they have
committed against the rights of their fellow-men, sometimes wonder how
it is that one man can acquire or retain so absolute a dominion over so
many millions as to induce them to kill each other in such vast numbers
at his bidding; for, of course, it is but a very small number of the
victims of a tyrant's injustice or cruelty that are executed by his own
hand.  How is it, then, that one weak and often despicable and hateful
man can acquire and retain such an ascendency over those that stand
around him, that they shall all be ready to draw their swords
instantaneously at his bidding, and seize and destroy, without
hesitation and without mercy, whomsoever he may choose to designate as
the object of his rage and vengeance?  How is it that the wealthiest,
the most respected, and the most popular citizens of the state, though
surrounded with servants and with multitudes of friends, have no power
to resist when one of these Neros conceives the idea of striking him
down, but must yield without a struggle to his fate, as if to
inevitable destiny?

The secret of this extraordinary submission of millions to one is
always an army.  The tyrant, under the pretense of providing the means
for the proper execution of just and righteous laws, and the
maintenance of peace and order in the community, organizes an army.  He
contrives so to arrange and regulate this force as to separate it
completely from the rest of the community, so as to extinguish as far
as possible all the sympathies which might otherwise exist between the
soldiers and the citizens.  Marriage is discouraged, so that the troops
may not be bound to the community by any family ties.  The regiments
arc quartered in barracks built and appropriated to their especial use,
and they are continually changed from one set of barracks to another,
in order to prevent their forming too intimate an acquaintance with any
portion of the community, or learning to feel any common interest or
sympathy with them.  Then, as a reward for their privations, the
soldiers are allowed, with very little remonstrance or restraint, to
indulge freely in all such habits of dissipation and vice as will not
at once interfere with military discipline, or deteriorate from the
efficiency of the whole body as a military corps.  The soldiers soon
learn to love the idle and dissolute lives which they are allowed to
lead.  The officers, especially those in the higher grades of rank, are
paid large salaries, are clothed in a gaudy dress which is adorned with
many decorations, and they are treated every where with great
consideration.  Thus they become devoted to the will of the government,
and lose gradually all regard for, and all sympathy with the rights and
welfare of the people.  There is a tacit agreement between them and the
government, by which they are bound to keep the people in a state of
utter and abject submission to the despot's will, while he, on his
part, is bound to collect from the people thus subdued the sums of
money necessary for their pay.  Thus it is the standing army which is
that great and terrible sword by means of which one man is able to
strike awe into the hearts of so many millions, and hold them all so
entirely subject to his will.

It is in consequence of having observed the effect of such armaments in
the despotisms of Europe and Asia that the free governments of modern
times take good care not to allow large standing armies to be formed.
Instead of this the people organize themselves into armed bands, in
connection with which they meet and practice military evolutions on
appointed days, and then separate and go back to their wives and to
their children, and to their usual occupations, while in the despotic
countries where large standing armies are maintained, the people are
strictly forbidden to possess arms, or to form organizations, or to
take measures of any kind that could tend to increase their means of
defense against their oppressors in the event of a struggle.

The consequence is, that under the free governments of the present day
the people are strong and the government is weak.  The standing army of
France consists at the present time[1] of five hundred thousand men,
completely armed and equipped, and devoted all the time to the study
and practice of the art of war.  By means of this force one man is able
to keep the whole population of the country in a state of complete and
unquestioning submission to his will.  In the United States, on the
other hand, with a population nearly as great, the standing army seldom
amounts to an effective force of fifteen thousand men; and if a
president of the United States were to attempt by means of it to
prolong his term of office, or to accomplish any other violent end,
there is, perhaps, not a single state in the Union, the population of
which would not alone be able to put him down--so strong are the people
with us, and so weak, in opposition to them, the government and the

It is often made a subject of reproach by European writers and
speakers, in commenting on the state of things in America, that the
government is so weak; but this we consider not our reproach, but our
glory.  The government is indeed weak.  The people take good care to
keep it weak.  But the nation is not weak; the nation is strong.  The
difference is, that in our country the nation chooses to retain its
power in its own hands.  The people make the government strong enough
from time to time for all the purposes which they wish it to
accomplish.   When occasion shall arise, the strength thus to be
imparted to it may be increased almost indefinitely, according to the
nature of the emergency.  In the mean time, the people consider
themselves the safest depositary of their reserved power.

But to return to Peter.  Of course, his policy was the reverse of ours.
He wished to make his army as efficient as possible, and to cut it off
as completely as possible from all communion and sympathy with the
people, so as to keep it in close and absolute subjection to his own
individual will.  The measures which he adopted were admirably adapted
to this purpose.  By means of them he greatly strengthened his power,
and established it on a firm and permanent basis.

Peter did not forget that, during the late rebellion, the influence of
the Church and that of all the leading ecclesiastics had been against
him.  This was necessarily the case; for, in a Church constituted as
that of Russia then was, the powers and prerogatives of the priests
rested, not on reason or right, but on ancient customs.  The priests
would therefore naturally be opposed to all changes--even
improvements--in the usages and institutions of the realm, for fear
that the system of reform, if once entered upon, might extend to and
interfere with their ancient prerogatives and privileges.  An
established Church in any country, where, by means of the
establishment, the priests or the ministers hold positions which secure
to them the possession of wealth or power, is always opposed to every
species of change.  It hates even the very name of reform.

Peter determined to bring the Russian Church more under his own
control.  Up to that time it had been, in a great measure, independent.
The head of it was an ecclesiastic of great power and dignity, called
the Patriarch.  The jurisdiction of this patriarch extended over all
the eastern portion of the Christian world, and his position and power
were very similar to those of the Pope of Rome, who reigned over the
whole western portion.

Indeed, so exalted was the position and dignity of the patriarch, and
so great was the veneration in which he was held by the people, that he
was, as it were, the spiritual sovereign of the country, just as Peter
was the civil and military sovereign; and on certain great religious
ceremonies he even took precedence of the Czar himself, and actually
received homage from him.  At one of the great religious anniversaries,
which was always celebrated with great pomp and parade, it was
customary for the patriarch to ride through the street on horseback,
with the Czar walking before him holding the bridle of the horse.  The
bridle used, on these occasions was very long, like a pair of reins,
and was made of the richest material, and ornamented with golden
embroidery.  The Czar walked on in advance, with the loop of the bridle
lying over his arm.  Then came three or four great nobles of the court,
who held up the reins behind the Czar, one of them taking hold close to
the horse's head, so as to guide and control the movements of the
animal.  The patriarch, who, as is the custom with priests, was dressed
in long robes, which prevented his mounting the horse in the usual
manner, sat upon a square flat seat which was placed upon the horse's
back by way of saddle, and rode in that manner, with his feet hanging
down upon one side.  Of course, his hands were at liberty, and with
these he held a cross, which he displayed to the people as he rode
along, and gave them his benediction.

After the patriarch, there followed, on these occasions, an immensely
long train of priests, all clothed in costly and gorgeous sacerdotal
robes, and bearing a great number and variety of religious emblems.
Some carried very costly copies of the Gospels, bound in gold and
adorned with precious stones; others crosses, and others pictures of
the Virgin Mary.  All these objects of veneration were enriched with
jewels and gems of the most costly description.

So far, however, as these mere pageants and ceremonies were concerned,
Peter would probably have been very easily satisfied, and would have
made no objection to paying such a token of respect to the patriarch as
walking before him through the street once a year, and holding the
bridle of his horse, if this were all.  But he saw very clearly that
these things were by no means to be considered as mere outward show.
The patriarch was at the head of a vast organization, which extended
throughout the empire, all the members of which were closely banded
together in a system the discipline of which made them dependent upon
and entirely devoted to their spiritual head.  These priests, moreover,
exercised individually a vast influence over the people in the towns
and villages where they severally lived and performed their functions.
Thus the patriarch wielded a great and very extended power, almost
wholly independent of any control on the part of the Czar--a power
which had already been once turned against him, and which might at some
future day become very dangerous.  Peter determined at once that he
would not allow such a state of things to continue.

He, however, resolved to proceed cautiously.  So he waited quietly
until the patriarch who was then in office died.  Then, instead of
allowing the bench of bishops, as usual, to elect another in his place,
he committed the administration of the Church to an ecclesiastic whom
he appointed for this purpose from among his own tried friends.  He
instructed this officer, who was a very learned and a very devout man,
to go on as nearly as possible as his predecessors, the patriarchs, had
done, in the ordinary routine of duty, so as not to disturb the Church
by any apparent and outward change; but he directed him to consider
himself, the Czar, as the real head of the Church, and to refer all
important questions which might arise to him for decision.  He thus, in
fact, abrogated the office of patriarch, and made himself the supreme
head of the Church.

The clergy throughout the empire, as soon as they understood this
arrangement, were greatly disturbed, and expressed their discontent and
dissatisfaction among themselves very freely.  The Czar heard of this;
and, selecting one of the bishops, who had spoken more openly and
decidedly than the rest, he ordered him to be degraded from his office
for his contumacy.  But this the other bishops objected to very
strongly.  They did not see, in fact, they said, how it could be done.
It was a thing wholly unknown that a person of the rank and dignity of
a bishop in the Church should be degraded from his office; and that,
besides, there was no authority that could degrade him, for they were
all bishops of equal rank, and no one had any jurisdiction or power
over the others.  Still, notwithstanding this, they were willing, they
said, to sacrifice their brother if by that means the Church could be
saved from the great dangers which were now threatening her; and they
said that they would depose the bishop who was accused on condition
that Peter would restore the rights of the Church which he had
suspended, by allowing them to proceed to the election of a new
patriarch, to take the place of the one who had died.

Peter would not listen to this proposal; but he created a new bishop
expressly to depose the one who had offended him.  The latter was
accordingly deposed, and the rest were compelled to submit.  None of
them dared any longer to speak openly against the course which the Czar
was pursuing, but writings were mysteriously dropped about the streets
which contained censures of his proceedings in respect to the Church,
and urged the people to resist them.  Peter caused large rewards to be
immediately offered for the discovery of the persons by whom these
writings were dropped, but it was of no avail, and at length the
excitement gradually passed away, leaving the victory wholly in Peter's

After this the Czar effected a great many important reforms in the
administration of the affairs of the empire, especially in those
relating to the government of the provinces, and to the collection of
the revenues in them.  This business had been hitherto left almost
wholly in the hands of the governors, by whom it had been grossly
mismanaged.  The governors had been in the habit both of grievously
oppressing the people in the collection of the taxes, and also of
grossly defrauding the emperor in remitting the proceeds to the

Peter now made arrangements for changing the system entirely.  He
established a central office at the capital for the transaction of all
business connected with the collecting of the revenues, and then
appointed collectors for all the provinces of the empire, who were to
receive their instructions from the minister who presided over this
central office, and make their returns directly to him.  Thus the whole
system was remodeled, and made far more efficient than it ever had been
before.  Of course, the old governors, who, in consequence of this
reform, lost the power of enriching themselves by their oppressions and
frauds, complained bitterly of the change, and mourned, like good
Conservatives, the ruin which this radicalism was bringing upon the
country, but they were forced to submit.

Whenever there was any thing in the private manners and customs of the
people which Peter thought was likely to impede in any way the
effectual accomplishment of his plans, he did not hesitate at all to
ordain a change; and some of the greatest difficulties which he had to
encounter in his reforms arose from the opposition which the people
made to the changes that he wished to introduce in the dress that they
wore, and in several of the usages of common life.  The people of the
country had been accustomed to wear long gowns, similar to those worn
to this day by many Oriental nations.  This costume was very
inconvenient, not only for soldiers, but also for workmen, and for all
persons engaged in any of the common avocations of life.  Peter
required the people to change this dress; and he sent patterns of the
coats worn in western Europe to all parts of the country, and had them
put up in conspicuous places, where every body could see them, and
required every body to imitate them.  He, however, met with a great
deal of difficulty in inducing them to do so.  He found still greater
difficulty in inducing the people to shave off their mustaches and
their beards.  Finding that they would not shave their faces under the
influence of a simple regulation to that effect, he assessed a tax upon
beards, requiring that every gentleman should pay a hundred rubles a
year for the privilege of wearing one; and as for the peasants and
common people, every one who wore a beard was stopped every time he
entered a city or town, and required to pay a penny at the gate by way
of tax or fine.

The nuisance of long clothes he attempted to abate in a similar way.
The officers of the customs, who were stationed at the gates of the
towns, were ordered to stop every man who wore a long dress, and compel
him either to pay a fine of about fifty cents, or else kneel down and
have all that part of their coat or gown which lay upon the ground,
while they were in that posture, cut off with a pair of big shears.

Still, such was the attachment of the people to their old fashions,
that great numbers of the people, rather than submit to this curtailing
of their vestments, preferred to pay the fine.

On one occasion the Czar, laying aside for the moment the system of
severity and terror which was his usual reliance for the accomplishment
of his ends, concluded to try the effect of ridicule upon the
attachment of the people to old and absurd fashions in dress.  It
happened that one of the fools or jesters of the court was about to be
married.  The young woman who was to be the jester's bride was very
pretty, and she was otherwise a favorite with those who knew her, and
the Czar determined to improve the occasion of the wedding for a grand
frolic.  He accordingly made arrangements for celebrating the nuptials
at the palace, and he sent invitations to all the great nobles and
officers of state, with their wives, and to all the other great ladies
of the court, giving them all orders to appear dressed in the fashions
which prevailed in the Russian court one or two hundred years before.
With the exception of some modes of dress prevalent at the present day,
there is nothing that can be conceived more awkward, inconvenient, and
ridiculous than the fashions which were reproduced on this occasion.
Among other things, the ladies wore a sort of dress of which the
sleeves, so it is said, were ten or twelve yards long.  These sleeves
were made very full, and were drawn up upon the arm in a sort of a
puff, it being the fashion to have as great a length to the sleeve as
could possibly be crowded on between the shoulder and the wrist.  It is
said, too, that the customary salutation between ladies and gentlemen
meeting in society, when this dress was in fashion, was performed
through the intervention of these sleeves.  On the approach of the
gentleman, the lady, by a sudden and dexterous motion other arm, would
throw off the end of her sleeve to him.  The sleeve, being very long,
could be thrown in this way half across the room.  The gentleman would
take the end of the sleeve, which represented, we are to suppose, the
hand of the lady, and, after kissing and saluting it in a most
respectful manner, he would resign it, and then the lady would draw it
back again upon her arm.  This would be too ridiculous to be believed
if it were possible that any thing could be too ridiculous to be
believed in respect to the absurdities of fashion.

A great many of the customs and usages of social life which prevailed
in those days, as well as the fashions of dress, were inconvenient and
absurd.  These the Czar did not hesitate to alter and reform by
proceedings of the most arbitrary and summary character.  For instance,
it was the custom of all the great nobles, or boyars, as they were
called, to go in grand state whenever they moved about the city or in
the environs of it, attended always by a long train of their servants
and retainers.  Now, as these followers were mostly on foot, the nobles
in the carriages, or, in the winter, in their sledges or sleighs, were
obliged to move very slowly in order to enable the train to keep up
with them.  Thus the streets were full of these tedious processions,
moving slowly along, sometimes through snow and sometimes through rain,
the men bareheaded, because they must not be covered in the presence of
their master, and thus exposed to all the inclemency of an almost
Arctic climate.  And what made the matter worse was, that it was not
the fashion for the nobleman to move on even as fast as his followers
might easily have walked.  They considered it more dignified and grand
to go slowly.  Thus, the more aristocratic a grandee was in spirit, and
the greater his desire to make a display of his magnificence in the
street, the more slowly he moved.  If it had not been for the banners
and emblems, and the gay and gaudy colors in which many of the
attendants were dressed, these processions would have produced the
effect of particularly solemn funerals.

The Czar determined to change all this.  First he set an example
himself of rapid motion through the streets.  When he went out in his
carriage or in his sleigh, he was attended only by a very few persons,
and they were dressed in a neat uniform and mounted on good horses, and
his coachman was ordered to drive on at a quick pace.  The boyars were
slow to follow this example, but the Czar assisted them considerably in
their progress toward the desired reform by making rules limiting the
number of idle attendants which they were allowed to have about them;
and then, if they would not dismiss the supernumeraries, he himself
caused them to be taken from them and sent into the army.

The motive of the Czar in making all these improvements and reforms was
his desire to render his own power as the sovereign of the country more
compact and efficient, and not any real and heartfelt interest in the
welfare and happiness of the people.  Still, in the end, very excellent
results followed from the innovations which he thus introduced.  They
were the commencement of a series of changes which so developed the
power and advanced the civilization of the country, as in the course of
a few subsequent reigns had the effect of bringing Russia into the
foremost rank among the nations of Europe.  The progress which these
changes introduced continues to go on to the present time, and will,
perhaps, go on unimpeded for centuries to come.

[1] 1858.




Origin of the war with Sweden--Peace with the Turks--Charles XII--Siege
of Narva--The frontier--Plan of the campaign--Indignation of the King
of Sweden--Remonstrances of Holland and England--The King of Sweden at
Riga--the Czar a subordinate--General Croy--His plans--Operations of
the king--Surprise and defeat of the Russians--Terrible
slaughter--Whimsical plan for disposing of the prisoners--Effect upon
the Czar--New plans and arrangements

The reader will perhaps recollect how desirous Peter had long been to
extend his dominions toward the west, so as to have a sea-port under
his control on the Baltic Sea; for, at the time when he succeeded to
the throne, the eastern shores of the Baltic belonged to Poland and to
Sweden, so that the Russians were confined, in a great measure, in
their naval operations to the waters of the Black and Caspian Seas, and
to the rivers flowing into them.  You will also recollect that when, at
the commencement of his tour, he arrived at the town of Riga, which
stands at the head of the Gulf of Riga, a sort of branch of the Baltic,
he had been much offended at the refusal of the governor of the place,
acting under the orders of the King of Sweden, to allow him to view the
fortifications there.  He then resolved that Riga, and the whole
province of which it was the capital, should one day be his.  The year
after he returned from his travels--that is, in 1699, the country being
by that time restored to its ordinary state of repose after the
suppression of the rebellion--he concluded that the time had arrived
for carrying his resolution into effect.

So he set a train of negotiations on foot for making a long truce with
the Turks, not wishing to have two wars on his hands at the same time.
When he had accomplished this object, he formed a league with the
kingdoms of Poland and Denmark to make war upon Sweden.  So exactly
were all his plans laid, that the war with Sweden was declared on the
very next day after the truce of the Turks was concluded.

The King of Sweden at this time was Charles XII.  He was a mere boy,
being only at that time eighteen years of age, and he had just
succeeded to the throne.  He was, however, a prince of remarkable
talents and energy, and in his subsequent campaigns against Peter and
his allies he distinguished himself so much that he acquired great
renown, and finally took his place among the most illustrious military
heroes in history.

The first operation of the war was the siege of the city of Narva.
Narva was a port on the Baltic; the situation of it, as well as that of
the other places mentioned in this chapter, is seen by the adjoining
map, which shows the general features of the Russian and Swedish
frontier as it existed at that time.

[Illustration: Map of the Russian and Swedish frontier.]

Narva, as appears by the map, is situated on the sea-coast, near the
frontier--much nearer than Riga.  Peter expected that by the conquest
of this city he should gain access to the sea, and so be able to build
ships which would aid him in his ulterior operations.  He also
calculated that when Narva was in his hands the way would be open for
him to advance on Riga.  Indeed, at the same time while he was
commencing the siege of Narva, his ally, the King of Poland, advanced
from his own dominions to Riga, and was now prepared to attack that
city at the same time that the Czar was besieging Narva.

In the mean while the news of these movements was sent by couriers to
the King of Sweden, and the conduct of Peter in thus suddenly making
war upon him, and invading his dominions, made him exceedingly
indignant.  The only cause of quarrel which Peter pretended to have
against the king was the uncivil treatment which he had received at the
hands of the Governor of Riga in refusing to allow him to see the
fortifications when he passed through that city on his tour.  Peter
had, it is true, complained of this insult, as he called it, and had
sent commissioners to Sweden to demand satisfaction; and certain
explanations had been made, though Peter professed not to be satisfied
with them.  Still, the negotiations had not been closed, and the
government of Sweden had no idea that the misunderstanding would lead
to war.  Indeed, the commissioners were still at the Swedish court,
continuing the negotiations, when the news arrived that Peter had at
once brought the question to an issue by declaring war and invading the
Swedish territory.  The king immediately collected a large army, and
provided a fleet of two hundred transports to convey them to the scene
of action.  The preparations were made with great dispatch, and the
fleet sailed for Riga.

The news, too, of this war occasioned great dissatisfaction among the
governments of western Europe.  The government of Holland was
particularly displeased, on account of the interference and
interruption which the war would occasion to all their commerce in the
Baltic.  They immediately determined to remonstrate with the Czar
against the course which he was pursuing, and they induced King
William, of England, to join them in the remonstrance.  They also, at
the same time, sent a messenger to the King of Poland, urging him by
all means to suspend his threatened attack on Riga until some measures
could be taken for accommodating the quarrel.  Riga was a very
important commercial port, and there were a great many wealthy Dutch
merchants there, whose interests the Dutch government were very anxious
to protect.

The King of Sweden arrived at Riga with his fleet at just about the
same time that the remonstrance of the Dutch government reached the
King of Poland, who was advancing to attack it.  Augustus, for that was
the name of the King of Poland, finding that now, since so great a
force had arrived to succor and strengthen the place, there was no hope
for success in any of his operations against it, concluded to make a
virtue of necessity, and so he drew off his army, and sent word to the
Dutch government that he did so in compliance with their wishes.

The King of Sweden had, of course, nothing now to do but to advance
from Riga to Narva and attack the army of the Czar.

This army was not, however, commanded by the Czar in person.  In
accordance with what seems to have been his favorite plan in all his
great undertakings, he did not act directly himself as the head of the
expedition, but, putting forward another man, an experienced and
skillful general, as responsible commander, he himself took a
subordinate position as lieutenant.  Indeed, he took a pride in
entering the army at one of the very lowest grades, and so advancing,
by a regular series of promotions, through all the ranks of the
service.  The person whom the Czar had made commander-in-chief at the
siege of Narva was a German officer.  His name was General Croy.

General Croy had been many weeks before Narva at the time when the King
of Sweden arrived at Riga, but he had made little progress in taking
the town.  The place was strongly fortified, and the garrison, though
comparatively weak, defended it with great bravery.  The Russian army
was encamped in a very strong position just outside the town.  As soon
as news of the coming of the King of Sweden arrived, the Czar went off
into the interior of the country to hasten a large re-enforcement which
had been ordered, and, at the same time, General Croy sent forward
large bodies of men to lay in ambuscade along the roads and defiles
through which the King of Sweden would have to pass on his way from

But all these excellent arrangements were entirely defeated by the
impetuous energy, and the extraordinary tact and skill of the King of
Sweden.  Although his army was very much smaller than that of the
Russians, he immediately set out on his march to Narva; but, instead of
moving along the regular roads, and so falling into the ambuscade which
the Russians had laid for him, he turned off into back and circuitous
by-ways, so as to avoid the snare altogether.  It was in the dead of
winter, and the roads which he followed, besides being rough and
intricate, were obstructed with snow, and the Russians had thought
little of them, so that at last, when the Swedish army arrived at their
advanced posts, they were taken entirely by surprise.  The advanced
posts were driven in, and the Swedes pressed on, the Russians flying
before them, and carrying confusion to the posts in the rear.  The
surprise of the Russians, and the confusion consequent upon it, were
greatly increased by the state of the weather; for there was a violent
snow-storm at the time, and the snow, blowing into the Russians' faces,
prevented their seeing what the numbers were of the enemy so suddenly
assaulting them, or taking any effectual measures to restore their own
ranks to order when once deranged.

When at length the Swedes, having thus driven in the advanced posts,
reached the Russian camp itself, they immediately made an assault upon
it.  The camp was defended by a rampart and by a double ditch, but on
went the assaulting soldiers over all the obstacles, pushing their way
with their bayonets, and carrying all before them.  The Russians were
entirely defeated and put to flight.

In a rout like this, the conquering army, maddened by rage and by all
the other dreadful excitements of the contest, press on furiously upon
their flying and falling foes, and destroy them with their bayonets in
immense numbers before the officers can arrest them.  Indeed, the
officers do not wish to arrest them until it is sure that the enemy is
so completely overwhelmed that their rallying again is utterly
impossible.  In this case twenty thousand of the Russian soldiers were
left dead upon the field.  The Swedes, on the other hand, lost only two
or three thousand.

Besides those who were killed, immense numbers were taken prisoners.
General Croy, and all the other principal generals in command, were
among the prisoners.  It is very probable that, if Peter had not been
absent at the time, he would himself have been taken too.

The number of prisoners was so very great that it was not possible for
the Swedes to retain them, on account of the expense and trouble of
feeding them, and keeping them warm at that season of the year; so they
determined to detain the officers only, and to send the men away.  In
doing this, besides disarming the men, they adopted a very whimsical
expedient for making them helpless and incapable of doing mischief on
their march.  They cut their clothes in such a manner that they could
only be prevented from falling off by being held together by both
hands; and the weather was so cold--the ground, moreover, being covered
with snow--that the men could only save themselves from perishing by
keeping their clothes around them.

In this pitiful plight the whole body of prisoners were driven off,
like a flock of sheep, by a small body of Swedish soldiery, for a
distance of about a league on the road toward Russia, and then left to
find the rest of the way themselves.

The Czar, when he heard the news of this terrible disaster, did not
seem much disconcerted by it.  He said that he expected to be beaten at
first by the Swedes.  "They have beaten us once," said he, "and they
may beat us again; but they will teach us in time to beat them."

He immediately began to adopt the most efficient and energetic measures
for organizing a new army.  He set about raising recruits in all parts
of the empire.  He introduced many new foreign officers into his
service; and to provide artillery, after exhausting all the other
resources at his command, he ordered the great bells of many churches
and monasteries to be taken down and cast into cannon.




Continuation of the war--Stratagems of the Swedes--Peculiar kind of
boat--Making a smoke--Peter determines to build a city--The site--Peter's
first visit to the Neva--Cronstadt--A stratagem--Contest on the
island--Peter examines the locality--He matures his plans--Mechanics and
artisans--Ships and merchandise--Laborers--The boyars--The building
commenced--Wharves and piers--Palace--Confusion--Variety of labors--Want
of tools and implements--Danger from the enemy--Supplies of
provisions--The supplies often fall short--Consequent sickness--Great
mortality--Peter's impetuosity of spirit--Streets and buildings--Private
dwellings--What the King of Sweden said--Map--Situation of
Cronstadt--Peter plans a fortress--Mode of laying the foundations--Danger
from the Swedes--Plan of their attack--The Swedes beaten off--The attempt
entirely fails--Mechanics and artisans--Various improvements--Scientific

The struggle thus commenced between the Czar Peter and Charles XII. of
Sweden, for the possession of the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea,
continued for many years.  At first the Russians were every where beaten
by the Swedes; but at last, as Peter had predicted, the King of Sweden
taught them to beat him.

The commanders of the Swedish army were very ingenious in expedients, as
well as bold and energetic in action, and they often gained an advantage
over their enemy by their wit as well as by their bravery.  One instance
of this was their contrivance for rendering their prisoners helpless on
their march homeward after the battle of Narva, by cutting their clothes
in such a manner as to compel the men to keep both hands employed, as
they walked along the roads, in holding them together.  On another
occasion, when they had to cross a river in the face of the Russian
troops posted on the other side, they invented a peculiar kind of boat,
which was of great service in enabling them to accomplish the transit in
safety.  These boats were flat-bottomed and square; the foremost end of
each of them was guarded by a sort of bulwark, formed of plank, and made
very high.  This bulwark was fixed on hinges at the lower end, so that it
could be raised up and down.  It was, of course, kept up during the
passage across the river, and so served to defend the men in the boat
from the shots of the enemy.  But when the boat reached the shore it was
let down, and then it formed a platform or bridge by which the men could
all rush out together to the shore.

At the same time, while they were getting these boats ready, and placing
the men in them, the Swedes, having observed that the wind blew across
from their side of the river to the other, made great fires on the bank,
and covered them with wet straw, so as to cause them to throw out a
prodigious quantity of smoke.  The smoke was blown over to the other side
of the river, where it so filled the air as to prevent the Russians from
seeing what was going on.

[Illustration: Stratagems of the Swedes.]

It was about a year after the first breaking out of the war that the tide
of fortune began to turn, in some measure, in favor of the Russians.
About that time the Czar gained possession of a considerable portion of
the Baltic shore; and as soon as he had done so, he conceived the design
of laying the foundation of a new city there, with the view of making it
the naval and commercial capital of his kingdom.  This plan was carried
most successfully into effect in the building of the great city of St.
Petersburg.  The founding of this city was one of the most important
transactions in Peter's reign.  Indeed, it was probably by far the most
important, and Peter owes, perhaps, more of his great fame to this
memorable enterprise than to any thing else that he did.

The situation of St. Petersburg will be seen by the map in the preceding
chapter.  At a little distance from the shore is a large lake, called the
Lake of Ladoga.  The outlet of the Lake of Ladoga is a small river called
the Neva.  The Lake of Ladoga is supplied with water by many rivers,
which flow into it from the higher lands lying to the northward and
eastward of it; and it is by the Neva that the surplus of these waters is
carried off to the sea.

The circumstances under which the attention of the Czar was called to the
advantages of this locality were these.  He arrived on the banks of the
Neva, at some distance above the mouth of the river, in the course of his
campaign against the Swedes in the year 1702.  He followed the river
down, and observed that it was pretty wide, and that the water was
sufficiently deep for the purpose of navigation.  When he reached the
mouth of the river, he saw that, there was an island,[1] at some distance
from the shore, which might easily be fortified, and that, when
fortified, it would completely defend the entrance to the stream.  He
took with him a body of armed men, and went off to the island in boats,
in order to examine it more closely.  The name of this island was then
almost unknown, but it is now celebrated throughout the world as the seat
of the renowned and impregnable fortress of Cronstadt.

There was a Swedish ship in the offing at the time when Peter visited the
island, and this ship drew near to the island and began to fire upon it
as soon as those on board saw that the Russian soldiers had landed there.
This cannonading drove the Russians back from the shores, but instead of
retiring from the island they went and concealed themselves behind some
rocks.  The Swedes supposed that the Russians had gone around to the
other side of the island, and that they had there taken to their boats
again and returned to the main land; so they determined to go to the
island themselves, and examine it, in order to find out what the Russians
had been doing there.

They accordingly let down their boats, and a large party of Swedes
embarking in them rowed to the island.  Soon after they had landed the
Russians rushed out upon them from their ambuscade, and, after a sharp
contest, drove them back to their boats.  Several of the men were killed,
but the rest succeeded in making their way to the ship, and the ship soon
afterward weighed anchor and put to sea.

Peter was now at liberty to examine the island, the mouth of the river,
and all the adjacent shores, as much as he pleased.  He found that the
situation of the place was well adapted to the purposes of a sea-port.
The island would serve to defend the mouth of the river, and yet there
was deep water along the side of it to afford an entrance for ships.  The
water, too, was deep in the river, and the flow of the current smooth.
It is true that in many places the land along the banks of the river was
low and marshy, but this difficulty could be remedied by the driving of
piles for the foundation of the buildings, which had been done so
extensively in Holland.

There was no town on the spot at the time of Peter's visit to it, but
only a few fishermen's huts near the outlet of the river, and the ruins
of an old fort a few miles above.  Peter examined the whole region with
great care, and came decidedly to the conclusion that he would make the
spot the site of a great city.

He matured his plans during the winter, and in the following spring he
commenced the execution of them.  The first building that was erected was
a low one-story structure, made of wood, to be used as a sort of office
and place of shelter for himself while superintending the commencement of
the works that he had projected.  This building was afterward preserved a
long time with great care, as a precious relic and souvenir of the
foundation of the city.

The Czar had sent out orders to the governments of the different
provinces of the empire requiring each of them to send his quota of
artificers and laborers to assist in building the city.  This they could
easily do, for in those days all the laboring classes of the people were
little better than slaves, and were almost entirely at the disposal of
the nobles, their masters.  In the same manner he sent out agents to all
the chief cities in western Europe, with orders to advertise there for
carpenters, masons, engineers, ship-builders, and persons of all the
other trades likely to be useful in the work of building the city.  These
men were to be promised good wages and kind treatment, and were to be at
liberty at any time to return to their respective homes.

The agents also, at the same time, invited the merchants of the countries
that they visited to send vessels to the new port, laden with food for
the people that were to be assembled there, and implements for work, and
other merchandise suitable for the wants of such a community.  The
merchants were promised good prices for their goods, and full liberty to
come and go at their pleasure.

The Czar also sent orders to a great many leading boyars or nobles,
requiring them to come and build houses for themselves in the new town.
They were to bring with them a sufficient number of their serfs and
retainers to do all the rough work which would be required, and money to
pay the foreign mechanics for the skilled labor.  The boyars were not at
all pleased with this summons.  They already possessed their town houses
in Moscow, with gardens and pleasure-grounds in the environs.  The site
for the new city was very far to the northward, in a comparatively cold
and inhospitable climate; and they knew very well that, even if Peter
should succeed, in the end, in establishing his new city, several years
must elapse before they could live there in comfort.  Still, they did not
dare to do otherwise than to obey the emperor's summons.

In consequence of all these arrangements and preparations, immense
numbers of people came in to the site of the new city in the course of
the following spring and summer.  The numbers were swelled by the
addition of the populations of many towns and villages along the coast
that had been ravaged or destroyed by the Swedes in the course of the
war.  The works were immediately commenced on a vast scale, and they were
carried on during the summer with great energy.  The first thing to be
secured was, of course, the construction of the fortress which was to
defend the town.  There were wharves and piers to be built too, in order
that the vessels bringing stores and provisions might land their goods.
The land was surveyed, streets laid out, building lots assigned to
merchants for warehouses and shops, and to the boyars for palaces and
gardens.  The boyars commenced the building of their houses, and the Czar
himself laid the foundation of an imperial palace.

But, notwithstanding all the precautions which Peter had taken to secure
supplies of every thing required for such an undertaking, and to regulate
the work by systematic plans and arrangements, the operations were for a
time attended with a great deal of disorder and confusion, and a vast
amount of personal suffering.  For a long time there was no proper
shelter for the laborers.  Men came to the ground much faster than huts
could be built to cover them, and they were obliged to lie on the marshy
ground without any protection from the weather.  There was also a great
scarcity of tools and implements suitable for the work that was required,
in felling and transporting trees, and in excavating and filling up,
where changes in the surface were required.  In constructing the
fortifications, for example, which, in the first instance, were made of
earth, it was necessary to dig deep ditches and to raise great
embankments.  There was a great deal of the same kind of work necessary
on the ground where the city was to stand before the work of erecting
buildings could be commenced.  There were dikes and levees to be made
along the margin of the stream to protect the land from the inundations
to which it was subject when the river was swollen with rains.  There
were roads to be made, and forests to be cleared away, and many other
such labors to be performed.  Now, in order to employ at once the vast
concourse of laborers that were assembled on the ground in such works as
these, an immense number of implements were required, such as pickaxes,
spades, shovels, and wheelbarrows; but so limited was the supply of these
conveniences, that a great portion of the earth which was required for
the dikes and embankments was brought by the men in their aprons, or in
the skirts of their clothes, or in bags made for the purpose out of old
mats, or any other material that came to hand.  It was necessary to push
forward the work promptly and without any delay, notwithstanding all
these disadvantages, for the Swedes were still off the coast with their
ships, and no one knew how soon they might draw near and open a cannonade
upon the place, or even land and attack the workmen in the midst of their

What greatly increased the difficulties of the case was the frequent
falling short of the supply of provisions.  The number of men to be fed
was immensely large; for, in consequence of the very efficient measures
which the Czar had taken for gathering men from all parts of his
dominions, it is said that there were not less than three hundred
thousand collected on the spot in the course of the summer.  And as there
were at that time no roads leading to the place, all the supplies were
necessarily to be brought by water.  But the approach from the Baltic
side was well-nigh cut off by the Swedes, who had at that time full
possession of the sea.  Vessels could, however, come from the interior by
way of Lake Ladoga; but when for several days or more the wind was from
the west, these vessels were all kept back, and then sometimes the
provisions fell short, and the men were reduced to great distress.  To
guard as much as possible against the danger of coming to absolute want
at the times when the supplies were thus entirely cut off, the men were
often put on short allowance beforehand.  The emperor, it is true, was
continually sending out requisitions for more food; but the men increased
in number faster, after all, than the means for feeding them.  The
consequence was, that immense multitudes of them sickened and died.  The
scarcity of food, combined with the influence of fatigue and
exposure--men half fed, working all day in the mud and rain, and at night
sleeping without any shelter--brought on fevers and dysenteries, and
other similar diseases, which always prevail in camps, and among large
bodies of men exposed to such influences as these.  It is said that not
less than a hundred thousand men perished from these causes at St.
Petersburg in the course of the year.

Peter doubtless regretted this loss of life, as it tended to impede the
progress of the work; but, after all, it was a loss which he could easily
repair by sending out continually to the provinces for fresh supplies of
men.  Those whom the nobles and governors selected from among the serfs
and ordered to go had no option; they were obliged to submit.  And thus
the supply of laborers was kept full, notwithstanding the dreadful
mortality which was continually tending to diminish it.

If Peter had been willing to exercise a little patience and moderation in
carrying out his plans, it is very probable that most of this suffering
might have been saved.  If he had sent a small number of men to the
ground the first year, and had employed them in opening roads,
establishing granaries, and making other preliminary arrangements, and,
in the mean time, had caused stores of food to be purchased and laid up,
and ample supplies of proper tools and implements to be procured and
conveyed to the ground, so as to have had every thing ready for the
advantageous employment of a large number of men in the following year,
every thing would, perhaps, have gone well.  But the qualities of
patience and moderation formed no part of Peter's character.  What he
conceived of and determined to do must be done at once, at whatever cost;
and a cost of human life seems to have been the one that he thought less
of than any other.  He rushed headlong on, notwithstanding the suffering
which his impetuosity occasioned, and thus the hymn which solemnized the
entrance into being of the new-born city was composed of the groans of a
hundred thousand men, dying in agony, of want, misery, and despair.

Peter was a personal witness of this suffering, for he remained, during a
great part of the time, on the ground, occupying himself constantly in
superintending and urging on the operations.  Indeed, it is said that he
acted himself as chief engineer in planning the fortifications, and in
laying out the streets of the city.  He drew many of the plans with his
own hands; for, among the other accomplishments which he had acquired in
the early part of his life, he had made himself quite a good practical

When the general plan of the city had been determined upon, and proper
places had been set apart for royal palaces and pleasure-grounds, and
public edifices of all sorts that might be required, and also for open
squares, docks, markets, and the like, a great many streets were thrown
open for the use of any persons who might choose to build houses in them.
A vast number of the mechanics and artisans who had been attracted to the
place by the offers of the Czar availed themselves of this opportunity to
provide themselves with homes, and they proceeded at once to erect
houses.  A great many of the structures thus built were mere huts or
shanties, made of any rude materials that came most readily to hand, and
put up in a very hasty manner.  It was sufficient that the tenement
afforded a shelter from the rain, and that it was enough of a building to
fulfill the condition on which the land was granted to the owner of it.
The number of these structures was, however, enormous.  It was said that
in one year there were erected thirty thousand of them.  There is no
instance in the history of the world of so great a city springing into
existence with such marvelous rapidity as this.

During the time while Peter was thus employed in laying the foundations
of his new city, the King of Sweden was carrying on the war in Poland
against the conjoined forces of Russia and Poland, which were acting
together there as allies.  When intelligence was brought to him of the
operations in which Peter was engaged on the banks of the Neva, he said,
"It is all very well.  He may amuse himself as much as he likes in
building his city there; but by-and-by, when I am a little at leisure, I
will go and take it away from him.  Then, if I like the town, I will keep
it; and if not, I will burn it down."

[Illustration: Situation at St. Petersburg.]

Peter, however, determined that it should not be left within the power of
the King of Sweden to take his town, or even to molest his operations in
the building of it, if any precautions on his part could prevent it.  He
had caused a number of redoubts and batteries to be thrown up during the
summer.  These works were situated at different points near the outlet of
the river, and on the adjacent shores.

There was an island off the mouth of the river which stood in a suitable
position to guard the entrance.  This island was several miles distant
from the place where the city was to stand, and it occupied the middle of
the bay leading toward it.  Thus there was water on both sides of it, but
the water was deep enough only on one side to allow of the passage of
ships of war.  Peter now determined to construct a large and strong
fortress on the shores of this island, placing it in such a position that
the guns could command the channel leading up the bay.  It was late in
the fall when he planned this work, and the winter came on before he was
ready to commence operations.  This time for commencing was, however, a
matter of design on his part, as the ice during the winter would assist
very much, he thought, in the work of laying the necessary foundations;
for the fortress was not to stand on the solid land, but on a sandbank
which projected from the land on the side toward the navigable channel.
The site of the fortress was to be about a cannon-shot from the and,
where, being surrounded by shallow water on every side, it could not be
approached either by land or sea.

Peter laid the foundations of this fortress on the ice by building
immense boxes of timber and plank, and loading them with stones.  When
the ice melted in the spring these structures sank into the sand, and
formed a stable and solid foundation on which he could afterward build at
pleasure.  This was the origin of the famous Castle of Cronstadt, which
has since so well fulfilled its purpose that it has kept the powerful
navies of Europe at bay in time of war, and prevented their reaching the

Besides this great fortress, Peter erected several detached batteries at
different parts of the island, so as to prevent the land from being
approached at all by the boats of the enemy.

At length the King of Sweden began to be somewhat alarmed at the accounts
which he received of what Peter was doing, and he determined to attack
him on the ground, and destroy his works before he proceeded any farther
with them.  He accordingly ordered the admiral of the fleet to assemble
his ships, to sail up the Gulf of Finland, and there attack and destroy
the settlement which Peter was making.

The admiral made the attempt, but he found that he was too late.  The
works were advanced too far, and had become too strong for him.  It was
on the 4th of July, 1704, that the Russian scouts, who were watching on
the shores of the bay, saw the Swedish ships coming up.  The fleet
consisted of twenty-two men-of-war, and many other vessels.  Besides the
forts and batteries, the Russians had a number of ships of their own at
anchor in the waters, and as the fleet advanced a tremendous cannonade
was opened on both sides, the ships of the Swedes against the ships and
batteries of the Russians.  When the Swedish fleet had advanced as far
toward the island as the depth of the water would allow, they let down
from the decks of their vessels a great number of flat-bottomed boats,
which they had brought for the purpose, and filled them with armed men.
Their plan was to land these men on the island, and carry the Russian
batteries there at the point of the bayonet.

But they did not succeed.  They were received so hotly by the Russians
that, after an obstinate contest, they were forced to retreat.  They
endeavored to get back to their boats, but were pursued by the Russians;
and now, as their backs were turned, they could no longer defend
themselves, and a great many were killed.  Even those that were not
killed did not all succeed in making their escape.  A considerable
number, finding that they should not be able to get to the boats, threw
down their arms, and surrendered themselves prisoners; and then, of
course, the boats which they belonged to were taken.  Five of the boats
thus fell into the hands of the Russians.  The others were rowed back
with all speed to the ships, and then the ships withdrew.  Thus the
attempt failed entirely.  The admiral reported the ill success of his
expedition to the king, and not long afterward another similar attempt
was made, but with no better success than before.

The new city was now considered as firmly established, and from this time
it advanced very rapidly in wealth and population.  Peter gave great
encouragement to foreign mechanics and artisans to come and settle in the
town, offering to some lands, to others houses, and to others high wages
for their work.  The nobles built elegant mansions there in the streets
set apart for them, and many public buildings of great splendor were
planned and commenced.  The business of building ships, too, was
introduced on an extended scale.  The situation was very favorable for
this purpose, as the shores of the river afforded excellent sites for
dock-yards, and the timber required could be supplied in great quantities
from the shores of Lake Ladoga.

In a very few years after the first foundation of the city, Peter began
to establish literary and scientific institutions there.  Many of these
institutions have since become greatly renowned, and they contribute a
large share, at the present day, to the _éclat_ which surrounds this
celebrated city, and which makes it one of the most splendid and renowned
of the European capitals.

[1] See map on page 221.




Progress of the war--Peter's fleet--The King of Sweden's
successes--Peter wishes to make peace--The reply--Plan changed--Mazeppa
and the Cossacks--Plans for reforming the Cossacks--Mazeppa opposes
them--The quarrel--Mazeppa's treasonable designs--The plot
defeated--Precautions of the Czar--Mazeppa's plans--He goes on step by
step--He sends his nephew to the Czar--The envoy is arrested--Commotion
among the Cossacks--Failure of the plot--Mazeppa's trial and
condemnation--The effigy--Execution of the sentence upon the
effigy--New chieftain chosen

In the mean time the war with Sweden went on.  Many campaigns were
fought, for the contest was continued through several successive years.
The King of Sweden made repeated attempts to destroy the new city of
St. Petersburg, but without success.  On the contrary, the town grew
and prospered more and more; and the shelter and protection which the
fortifications around it afforded to the mouth of the river and to the
adjacent roadsteads enabled the Czar to go on so rapidly in building
new ships, and in thus increasing and strengthening his fleet, that
very soon he was much stronger than the King of Sweden in all the
neighboring waters, so that he not only was able to keep the enemy very
effectually at bay, but he even made several successful descents upon
the Swedish territory along the adjoining coasts.

But, while the Czar was thus rapidly increasing his power at sea, the
King of Sweden proved himself the strongest on land.  He extended his
conquests very rapidly in Poland and in the adjoining provinces, and at
last, in the summer of 1708, he conceived the design of crossing the
Dnieper and threatening Moscow, which was still Peter's capital.  He
accordingly pushed his forces forward until he approached the bank of
the river.  He came up to it at a certain point, as if he was intending
to cross there.  Peter assembled all his troops on the opposite side of
the river at that point in order to oppose him.  But the demonstration
which the king made of an intention to cross at that point was only a
pretense.  He left a sufficient number of men there to make a show, and
secretly marched away the great body of his troops in the night to a
point about three miles farther up the river, where he succeeded in
crossing with them before the emperor's forces had any suspicion of his
real design.  The Russians, who were not strong enough to oppose him in
the open field, were obliged immediately to retreat, and leave him in
full possession of the ground.

Peter was now much alarmed.  He sent an officer to the camp of the King
of Sweden with a flag of truce, to ask on what terms the king would
make peace with him.  But Charles was too much elated with his success
in crossing the river, and placing himself in a position from which he
could advance, without encountering any farther obstruction, to the
very gates of the capital, to be willing then to propose any terms.  So
he declined entering into any negotiation, saying only in a haughty
tone "that he would treat with his brother Peter at Moscow."

On mature reflection, however, he seems to have concluded that it would
be more prudent for him not to march at once to Moscow, and so he
turned his course for a time toward the southward, in the direction of
the Crimea and the Black Sea.

There was one secret reason which induced the King of Sweden to move
thus to the southward which Peter did not for a time understand.  The
country of the Cossacks lay in that direction, and the famous Mazeppa,
of whom some account has already been given in this volume, was the
chieftain of the Cossacks, and he, as it happened, had had a quarrel
with the Czar, and in consequence of it had opened a secret negotiation
with the King of Sweden, and had agreed that if the king would come
into his part of the country he would desert the cause of the Czar, and
would come over to his side, with all the Cossacks under his command.

The cause of Mazeppa's quarrel with the Czar was this: He was one day
paying a visit to his majesty, and, while seated at table, Peter began
to complain of the lawless and ungovernable character of the Cossacks,
and to propose that Mazeppa should introduce certain reforms in the
organization and discipline of the tribe, with a view of bringing them
under more effectual control.  It is probable that the reforms which he
proposed were somewhat analogous to those which he had introduced so
successfully into the armies under his own more immediate command.

Mazeppa opposed this suggestion.  He said that the attempt to adopt
such measures with the Cossacks would never succeed; that the men were
so wild and savage by nature, and so fixed in the rude and irregular
habits of warfare to which they and their fathers had been so long
accustomed, that they could never be made to submit to such
restrictions as a regular military discipline would impose.

Peter, who never could endure the least opposition or contradiction to
any of his ideas or plans, became quite angry with Mazeppa on account
of the objections which he made to his proposals, and, as was usual
with him in such cases, he broke out in the most rude and violent
language imaginable.  He called Mazeppa an enemy and a traitor, and
threatened to have him impaled alive.  It is true he did not really
mean what he said, his words being only empty threats dictated by the
brutal violence of his anger.  Still, Mazeppa was very much offended.
He went away from the Czar's tent muttering his displeasure, and
resolving secretly on revenge.

Soon after this Mazeppa opened the communication above referred to with
the King of Sweden, and at last an agreement was made between them by
which it was stipulated that the king was to advance into the southern
part of the country, where, of course, the Cossacks would be sent out
to meet him, and then Mazeppa was to revolt from the Czar, and go over
with all his forces to the King of Sweden's side.  By this means the
Czar's army was sure, they thought, to be defeated; and in this case
the King of Sweden was to remain in possession of the Russian
territory, while the Cossacks were to retire to their own fortresses,
and live thenceforth as an independent tribe.

The plot seemed to be very well laid; but, unfortunately for the
contrivers of it, it was not destined to succeed.  In the first place,
Mazeppa's scheme of revolting with the Cossacks to the enemy was
discovered by the Czar, and almost entirely defeated, before the time
arrived for putting it into execution.  Peter had his secret agents
every where, and through them he received such information in respect
to Mazeppa's movements as led him to suspect his designs.  He said
nothing, however, but manoeuvred his forces so as to have a large body
of troops that he could rely upon always near Mazeppa and the Cossacks,
and between them and the army of the Swedes.  He ordered the officers
of these troops to watch Mazeppa's movements closely, and to be ready
to act against him at a moment's notice, should occasion require.
Mazeppa was somewhat disconcerted in his plans by this state of things;
but he could not make any objection, for the troops thus stationed near
him seemed to be placed there for the purpose of co-operating with him
against the enemy.

In the mean time, Mazeppa cautiously made known his plans to the
leading men among the Cossacks as fast as he thought it prudent to do
so.  He represented to them how much better it would be for them to be
restored to their former liberty as an independent tribe, instead of
being in subjugation to such a despot as the Czar.  He also enumerated
the various grievances which they suffered under Russian rule, and
endeavored to excite the animosity of his hearers as much as possible
against Peter's government.

He found that the chief officers of the Cossacks seemed quite disposed
to listen to what he said, and to adopt his views.  Some of them were
really so, and others pretended to be so for fear of displeasing him.
At length he thought it time to take some measures for preparing the
minds of the men generally for what was to come, and in order to do
this he determined on publicly sending a messenger to the Czar with the
complaints which he had to make in behalf of his men.  The men, knowing
of this embassy, and understanding the grounds of the complaint which
Mazeppa was to make by means of it, would be placed, he thought, in
such a position that, in the event of an unfavorable answer being
returned, as he had no doubt would be the case, they could be the more
easily led into the revolt which he proposed.

Mazeppa accordingly made out a statement of his complaints, and
appointed his nephew a commissioner to proceed to head-quarters and lay
them before the Czar.  The name of the nephew was Warnarowski.  As soon
as Warnarowski arrived at the camp, Peter, instead of granting him an
audience, and listening to the statement which he had to make, ordered
him to be seized and sent to prison, as if he were guilty of a species
of treason in coming to trouble his sovereign with complaints and
difficulties at such a time, when the country was suffering under an
actual invasion from a foreign enemy.

As soon as Mazeppa heard that his nephew was arrested, he was convinced
that his plots had been discovered, and that he must not lose a moment
in carrying them into execution, or all would be lost.  He accordingly
immediately put his whole force in motion to march toward the place
where the Swedish army was then posted, ostensibly for the purpose of
attacking them.  He crossed a certain river which lay between him and
the Swedes, and then, when safely over, he stated to his men what he
intended to do.

The men were filled with indignation at this proposal, which, being
wholly unexpected, came upon them by surprise.  They refused to join in
the revolt.  A scene of great excitement and confusion followed.  A
portion of the Cossacks, those with whom Mazeppa had come to an
understanding beforehand, were disposed to go with him, but the rest
were filled with vexation and rage.  They declared that they would
seize their chieftain, bind him hand and foot, and send him to the
Czar.  Indeed, it is highly probable that the two factions would have
come soon to a bloody fight for the possession of the person of their
chieftain, in which case he would very likely have been torn to pieces
in the struggle, if those who were disposed to revolt had not fled
before the opposition to their movement had time to become organized.
Mazeppa and those who adhered to him--about two thousand men in
all--went over in a body to the camp of the Swedes.  The rest, led by
the officers that still remained faithful, marched at once to the
nearest body of Russian forces, and put themselves under the command of
the Russian general there.

A council of war was soon after called in the Russian camp for the
purpose of bringing Mazeppa to trial.  He was, of course, found guilty,
and sentence of death--with a great many indignities to accompany the
execution--was passed upon him.  The sentence, however, could not be
executed upon Mazeppa himself, for he was out of the reach of his
accusers, being safe in the Swedish camp.  So they made a wooden image
or effigy to represent him, and inflicted the penalties upon the
substitute instead.

In the first place, they dressed the effigy to imitate the appearance
of Mazeppa, and put upon it representations of the medals, ribbons, and
other decorations which he was accustomed to wear.  They brought this
figure out before the camp, in presence of the general and of all the
leading officers, the soldiers being also drawn up around the spot.  A
herald appeared and read the sentence of condemnation, and then
proceeded to carry it into execution, as follows.  First, he tore
Mazeppa's patent of knighthood in pieces, and threw the fragments into
the air.  Then he tore off the medals and decorations from the image,
and, throwing them upon the ground, he trampled them under his feet.
Then he struck the effigy itself a blow by which it was overturned and
left prostrate in the dust.

The hangman then came up, and, tying a halter round the neck of the
effigy, dragged it off to a place where a gibbet had been erected, and
hanged it there.

Immediately after this ceremony, the Cossacks, according to their
custom, proceeded to elect a new chieftain in the place of Mazeppa.
The chieftain thus chosen came forward before the Czar to take the oath
of allegiance to him, and to offer him his homage.




Invasion of the Swedes--Their progress through the country--Artificial
roads--Pultowa--Fame of the battle--Situation of Pultowa--It is
besieged--Menzikoff--Manoeuvres--Menzikoff most successful--King
Charles wounded--The Czar advances to Pultowa--The king resolves to
attack the camp--A battle determined upon--Military rank of the
Czar--His address to the army--The litter--The battle--Courage and
fortitude of the king--The Swedes defeated--Narrow escape of the
Czar--He discovers the broken litter--Escape of King Charles--Dreadful
defeat--Flight and adventures of the king--He offers now to make
peace--The king's followers--Peter's reply--Carriage for the
king--Flight to the Turkish frontier--Sufferings of the retreating
army--Deputation sent to the Turkish frontier--Reception of the
messenger--Boats collected--Crossing the river--Bender--Fate of the
Swedish army--The prisoners--Anecdote of the Czar--The Czar's
habits--Disposition of the prisoners--Adventures of the King of
Sweden--Military promotion of the Czar

In the mean time, while these transactions had been taking place among
the Russians, the King of Sweden had been gradually making his way
toward the westward and southward, into the very heart of the Russian
dominions.  The forces of the emperor, which were not strong enough to
offer him battle, had been gradually retiring before him; but they had
devastated and destroyed every thing on their way, in their retreat, so
as to leave nothing for the support of the Swedish army.  They broke up
all the bridges too, and obstructed the roads by every means in their
power, so as to impede the progress of the Swedes as much as possible,
since they could not wholly arrest it.

The Swedes, however, pressed slowly onward.  They sent off to great
distances to procure forage for the horses and food for the men.  When
they found the bridges down, they made detours and crossed the rivers
at fording-places.  When the roads were obstructed, they removed the
impediments if they could, and if not, they opened new roads.
Sometimes, in these cases, their way led them across swampy places
where no solid footing could be found, and then the men would cut down
an immense quantity of bushes and trees growing in the neighborhood,
and make up the branches into bundles called _fascines_.  They would
lay these bundles close together on the surface of the swamp, and then
level them off on the top by loose branches, and so make a road firm
enough for the army to march over.

Things went on in this way until, at last, the farther progress of King
Charles was arrested, and the tide of fortune was turned wholly against
him by a great battle which was fought at a place called Pultowa.  This
battle, which, after so protracted a struggle, at length suddenly
terminated the contest between the king and the Czar, of course
attracted universal attention at the time, for Charles and Peter were
the greatest potentates and warriors of their age, and the struggle for
power which had so long been waged between them had been watched with
great interest, through all the stages of it, by the whole civilized
world.  The battle of Pultowa was, in a word, one of those great final
conflicts by which, after a long struggle, the fate of an empire is
decided.  It, of course, greatly attracted the attention of mankind,
and has since taken its place among the most renowned combats of

Pultowa is a town situated in the heart of the Russian territories
three or four hundred miles north of the Black Sea.  It stands on a
small river which flows to the southward and westward into the Dnieper.
It was at that time an important military station, as it contained
great arsenals where large stores of food and of ammunition were laid
up for the use of Peter's army.  The King of Sweden determined to take
this town.  His principal object in desiring to get possession of it
was to supply the wants of his army by the provisions that were stored
there.  The place was strongly fortified, and it was defended by a
garrison; but the king thought that he should be able to take it, and
he accordingly advanced to the walls, invested the place closely on
every side, and commenced the siege.

The name of the general in command of the largest body of Russian
forces near the spot was Menzikoff, and as soon as the King of Sweden
had invested the place, Menzikoff began to advance toward it in order
to relieve it.  Then followed a long series of manoeuvres and partial
combats between the two armies, the Swedes being occupied with the
double duty of attacking the town, and also of defending themselves
from Menzikoff; while Menzikoff, on the other hand, was intent, first
on harassing the Swedes and impeding as much as possible their siege
operations, and, secondly, on throwing succors into the town.

In this contest Menzikoff was, on the whole, most successful.  He
contrived one night to pass a detachment of his troops through the
gates of Pultowa into the town to strengthen the garrison.  This
irritated the King of Sweden, and made him more determined and reckless
than ever to press the siege.  Under this excitement he advanced so
near the walls one day, in a desperate effort to take possession of an
advanced part of the works, that he exposed himself to a shot from the
ramparts, and was badly wounded in the heel.

This wound nearly disabled him.  He was obliged by it to confine
himself to his tent, and to content himself with giving orders from his
couch or litter, where he lay helpless and in great pain, and in a
state of extreme mental disquietude.

His anxiety was greatly increased in a few days in consequence of
intelligence which was brought into his camp by the scouts, that Peter
himself was advancing to the relief of Pultowa at the head of a very
large army.  Indeed, the tidings were that this great force was close
at hand.  The king found that he was in danger of being surrounded.
Nor could he well hope to escape the danger by a retreat, for the broad
and deep river Dnieper, which he had crossed to come to the siege of
Pultowa, was behind him, and if the Russians were to fall upon him
while attempting to cross it, he knew very well that his whole army
would be cut to pieces.

He lay restless on his litter in his tent, his thoughts divided between
the anguish of the wound in his heel and the mental anxiety and
distress produced by the situation that he was in.  He spent the night
in great perplexity and suffering.  At length, toward morning, he came
to the desperate resolution of attacking the Russians in their camp,
inferior as his own numbers were now to theirs.

He accordingly sent a messenger to the field-marshal, who was chief
officer in command under himself, summoning him to his tent.  The
field-marshal was aroused from his sleep, for it was not yet day, and
immediately repaired to the king's tent.  The king was lying on his
couch, quiet and calm, and, with an air of great serenity and
composure, he gave the marshal orders to beat to arms and march out to
attack the Czar in his intrenchments as soon as daylight should appear.

The field-marshal was astonished at this order, for he knew that the
Russians were now far superior in numbers to the Swedes, and he
supposed that the only hope of the king would be to defend himself
where he was in his camp, or else to attempt a retreat.  He, however,
knew that there was nothing to be done but to obey his orders.  So he
received the instructions which the king gave him, said that he would
carry them into execution, and then retired.  The king then at length
fell into a troubled sleep, and slept until the break of day.

By this time the whole camp was in motion.  The Russians, too, who in
their intrenchments had received the alarm, had aroused themselves and
were preparing for battle.  The Czar himself was not the commander.  He
had prided himself, as the reader will recollect, in entering the army
at the lowest point, and in advancing regularly, step by step, through
all the grades, as any other officer would have done.  He had now
attained the rank of major general; and though, as Czar, he gave orders
through his ministers to the commander-in-chief of the armies directing
them in general what to do, still personally, in camp and in the field
of battle, he received orders from his military superior there; and he
took a pride and pleasure in the subordination to his superior's
authority which the rules of the service required of him.

He, however, as it seems, did not always entirely lay aside his
imperial character while in camp, for in this instance, while the men
were formed in array, and before the battle commenced, he rode to and
fro along their lines, encouraging the men, and promising, as their
sovereign, to bestow rewards upon them in proportion to the valor which
they should severally display in the coming combat.

The King of Sweden, too, was raised from his couch, placed upon a
litter, and in this manner carried along the lines of his own army just
before the battle was to begin.  He told the men that they were about
to attack an enemy more numerous than themselves, but that they must
remember that at Narva eight thousand Swedes had overcome a hundred
thousand Russians in their own intrenchments, and what they had done
once, he said, they could do again.

The battle was commenced very early in the morning.  It was complicated
at the beginning with many marches, countermarches, and manoeuvres, in
which the several divisions of both the Russian and Swedish armies, and
the garrison of Pultowa, all took part.  In some places and at some
times the victory was on one side, and at others on the other.  King
Charles was carried in his litter into the thickest of the battle,
where, after a time, he became so excited by the contest that he
insisted on being put upon a horse.  The attendants accordingly brought
a horse and placed him carefully upon it; but the pain of his wound
brought on faintness, and he was obliged to be put back in his litter
again.  Soon after this a cannon ball struck the litter and dashed it
to pieces.  The king was thrown out upon the ground.  Those who saw him
fall supposed that he was killed, and they were struck with
consternation.  They had been almost overpowered by their enemies
before, but they were now wholly disheartened and discouraged, and they
began to give way and fly in all directions.

The king had, however, not been touched by the ball which struck the
litter.  He was at once raised from the ground by the officers around
him, and borne away out of the immediate danger.  He remonstrated
earnestly against being taken away, and insisted upon making an effort
to rally his men; but the officers soon persuaded him that for the
present, at least, all was lost, and that the only hope for him was to
make his escape as soon as possible across the river, and thence over
the frontier into Turkey, where he would be safe from pursuit, and
could then consider what it would be best to do.

The king at length reluctantly yielded to these persuasions, and was
borne away.

In the mean time, the Czar himself had been exposed to great danger in
the battle, and, like the King of Sweden, had met with some very narrow
escapes.  His hat was shot through with a bullet which half an inch
lower would have gone through the emperor's head.  General Menzikoff
had three horses shot under him.  But, notwithstanding these dangers,
the Czar pressed on into the thickest of the fight, and was present at
the head of his men when the Swedes were finally overwhelmed and driven
from the field.  Indeed, he was among the foremost who pursued them;
and when he came to the place where the royal litter was lying, broken
to pieces, on the ground, he expressed great concern for the fate of
his enemy, and seemed to regret the calamity which had befallen him as
if Charles had been his friend.  He had always greatly admired the
courage and the military skill which the King of Sweden had manifested
in his campaigns, and was disposed to respect his misfortunes now that
he had fallen.  He supposed that he was unquestionably killed, and he
gave orders to his men to search every where over the field for the
body, and to guard it, when found, from any farther violence or injury,
and take charge of it, that it might receive an honorable burial.

The body was, of course, not found, for the king was alive, and, with
the exception of the wound in his heel, uninjured.  He was borne off
from the field by a few faithful adherents, who took him in their arms
when the litter was broken up.  As soon as they had conveyed him in
this manner out of immediate danger, they hastily constructed another
litter in order to bear him farther away.  He was himself extremely
unwilling to go.  He was very earnest to make an effort to rally his
men, and, if possible, save his army from total ruin.  But he soon
found that it was in vain to attempt this.  His whole force had been
thrown into utter confusion; and the broken battalions, flying in every
direction, were pursued so hotly by the Russians, who, in their
exultant fury, slaughtered all whom they could overtake, and drove the
rest headlong on in a state of panic and dismay which was wholly

Of course some escaped, but great numbers were taken prisoners.  Many
of the officers, separated from their men, wandered about in search of
the king, being without any rallying point until they could find him.
After suffering many cruel hardships and much exposure in the
lurking-places where they attempted to conceal themselves, great
numbers of them were hunted out by their enemies and made prisoners.

In the mean time, those who had the king under their charge urged his
majesty to allow them to convey him with all speed out of the country.
The nearest way of escape was to go westward to the Turkish frontier,
which, as has already been said, was not far distant, though there were
three rivers to cross on the way--the Dnieper, the Bog, and the
Dniester.  The king was very unwilling to listen to this advice.  Peter
had several times sent a flag of truce to him since he had entered into
the Russian dominions, expressing a desire to make peace, and proposing
very reasonable terms for Charles to accede to.  To all these proposals
Charles had returned the same answer as at first, which was, that he
should not be ready to treat with the Czar until he arrived at Moscow.
Charles now said that, before abandoning the country altogether, he
would send a herald to the Russian camp to say that he was now willing
to make peace on the terms which Peter had before proposed to him, if
Peter was still willing to adhere to them.

Charles was led to hope that this proposal might perhaps be successful,
from the fact that there was a portion of his army who had not been
engaged at Pultowa that was still safe; and he had no doubt that a very
considerable number of men would succeed in escaping from Pultowa and
joining them.  Indeed, the number was not small of those whom the king
had now immediately around him, for all that escaped from the battle
made every possible exertion to discover and rejoin the king, and so
many straggling parties came that he soon had under his command a force
of one or two thousand men.  This was, of course, but a small remnant
of his army.  Still, he felt that he was not wholly destitute of means
and resources for carrying on the struggle in case Peter should refuse
to make peace.

So he sent a trumpeter to Peter's camp with the message; but Peter sent
word back that his majesty's assent to the terms of peace which he had
proposed to him came too late.  The state of things had now, he said,
entirely changed; and as Charles had ventured to penetrate into the
Russian country without properly considering the consequences of his
rashness, he must now think for himself how he was to get out of it.
For his part, he added, he had got the birds in the net, and he should
do all in his power to secure them.

After due consultation among the officers who were with the king, it
was finally determined that it was useless to think for the present of
any farther resistance, and the king, at last, reluctantly consented to
be conveyed to the Turkish frontier.  He was too ill from the effects
of his wound to ride on horseback, and the distance was too great for
him to be conveyed in a litter.  So they prepared a carriage for him.
It was a carriage which belonged to one of his generals, and which, by
some means or other, had been saved in the flight of the army.  The
route which they were to take led across the country where there were
scarcely any roads, and a team of twelve horses was harnessed to draw
the carriage which conveyed the king.

No time was to be lost.  The confused mass of officers and men who had
escaped from the battle, and had succeeded in rejoining the king, were
marshaled into something like a military organization, and the march,
or rather the flight, commenced.  The king's carriage, attended by such
a guard as could be provided for it, went before, and was followed by
the remnant of the army.  Some of the men were on horseback, others
were on foot, and others still, sick or wounded, were conveyed on
little wagons of the country, which were drawn along in a very
difficult and laborious manner.

[Illustration: Flight of the King of Sweden.]

This mournful train moved slowly on across the country, seeking, of
course, the most retired and solitary ways to avoid pursuit, and yet
harassed by the continual fear that the enemy might at any time come up
with them.  The men all suffered exceedingly from want of food, and
from the various other hardships incident to their condition.  Many
became so worn out by fatigue and privation that they could not
proceed, and were left by the road sides to fall into the hands of the
enemy, or to perish of want and exhaustion; while those who still had
strength enough remaining pressed despairingly onward, but little less
to be pitied than those who were left behind.

When at length the expedition drew near to the Turkish borders, the
king sent forward a messenger to the pasha in command on the frontier,
asking permission for himself and his men to pass through the Turkish
territory on his way to his own dominions.  He had every reason to
suppose that the pasha would grant this request, for the Turks and
Russians had long been enemies, and he knew very well that the
sympathies of the Turks had been entirely on his side in this war.

Nor was he disappointed in his expectations.  The pasha received the
messenger very kindly, offered him food, and supplied all his wants.
He said, moreover, that he would not only give the king leave to enter
and pass through the Turkish territories, but he would give him
efficient assistance in crossing the river which formed the frontier.
This was, indeed, necessary, for a large detachment of the Russian army
which had been sent in pursuit of the Swedes was now coming close upon
them, and there was danger of their being overtaken and cut to pieces
or taken prisoners before they should have time to cross the stream.
The principal object which the Czar had in view in sending a detachment
in pursuit of the fugitives was the hope of capturing the king himself.
He spoke of this his design to the Swedish officers who were already
his prisoners, saying to them jocosely, for he was in excellent humor
with every body after the battle, "I have a great desire to see my
brother the king, and to enjoy his society; so I have sent to bring
him.  You will see him here in a few days."

The force dispatched for this purpose had been gradually gaining upon
the fugitives, and was now very near, and the pasha, on learning the
facts, perceived that the exigency was very urgent.  He accordingly
sent off at once up and down the river to order all the boats that
could be found to repair immediately to the spot where the King of
Sweden wished to cross.  A considerable number of boats were soon
collected, and the passage was immediately commenced.  The king and his
guards were brought over safely, and also a large number of the
officers and men.  But the boats were, after all, so few that the
operation proceeded slowly, and the Russians, who had been pressing on
with all speed, arrived at the banks of the river in time to interrupt
it before all the troops had passed, and thus about five hundred men
fell into their hands.  They were all made prisoners, and the king had
the mortification of witnessing the spectacle of their capture from the
opposite bank, which he had himself reached in safety.

The king was immediately afterward conveyed to Bender, a considerable
town not far from the frontier, where, for the present, he was safe,
and where he remained quiet for some weeks, in order that his wound
might have opportunity to heal.  Peter was obliged to content himself
with postponing for a time the pleasure which he expected to derive
from the enjoyment of his brother's society.

The portion of the Swedish army which remained in Russia was soon after
this surrounded by so large a Russian force that the general in command
was forced to capitulate, and all the troops were surrendered as
prisoners of war.  Thus, in all, a great number of prisoners, both of
officers and men, fell into Peter's hands.  The men were sent to
various parts of the empire, and distributed among the people, in order
that they might settle permanently in the country, and devote
themselves to the trades or occupations to which they had been trained
in their native land.  The officers were treated with great kindness
and consideration.  Peter often invited them to his table, and
conversed with them in a very free and friendly manner in respect to
the usages and customs which prevailed in their own country, especially
those which related to the military art.  Still, they were deprived of
their swords and kept close prisoners.

One day, when some of these officers were dining with Peter in his
tent, and he had been for some time conversing with them about the
organization and discipline of the Swedish army, and had expressed
great admiration for the military talent and skill which they had
displayed in the campaigns which they had fought, he at last poured out
some wine and drank to the health of "his masters in the art of war."
One of the officers who was present asked who they were that his
majesty was pleased to honor with so great a title.

"It is yourselves, gentlemen," replied the Czar; "the Swedish generals.
It is you who have been my best instructors in the art of war."

"Then," replied the officer, "is not your majesty a little ungrateful
to treat the masters to whom you owe so much so severely?"

Peter was so much pleased with the readiness and wit of this reply,
that he ordered the swords of the officers all to be restored to them.
It is said that he even unbuckled his own sword from his side and
presented it to one of the generals.

It ought, perhaps, to be added, however, that the habit of drinking to
excess, which Peter seems to have formed early in life, had before this
time become quite confirmed, and he often became completely intoxicated
at his convivial entertainments, so that it is not improbable that the
sudden generosity of the Czar on this occasion may have been due, in a
considerable degree, to the excitement produced by the brandy which he
had been drinking.

Although the swords of the officers were thus restored to them, they
were themselves still held as prisoners until arrangements could be
made for exchanging them.  In order, however, that they might all be
properly provided for, he distributed them around among his own
generals, giving to each Russian officer the charge of a Swedish
officer of his own rank, granting, of course, to each one a proper
allowance for the maintenance and support of his charge.  The Russian
generals were severally responsible for the safe-keeping of their
prisoners; but the surveillance in such cases is never strict, for it
is customary for the prisoners to give their _parole_ of honor that
they will not attempt to escape, and then they are allowed, within
reasonable limits, their full personal liberty, so that they live more
like the guests and companions of their keepers than as their captives.

The King of Sweden met with many remarkable adventures and encountered
very serious difficulties before he reached his own kingdom, but it
would be foreign to the subject of this history to relate them here.
As to Mazeppa, he made his escape too, with the King of Sweden, across
the frontier.  The Czar offered a very large reward to whoever should
bring him back, either dead or alive; but he never was taken.  He died
afterward at Constantinople at a great age.

One of the most curious and characteristic results which followed from
the battle of Pultowa was the promotion of Peter in respect to his rank
in the army.  It was gravely decided by the proper authorities, after
due deliberation, that in consequence of the vigor and bravery which he
had displayed on the field, and of the danger which he had incurred in
having had a shot through his hat, he deserved to be advanced a grade
in the line of promotion.  So he was made a major general.

Thus ended the great Swedish invasion of Russia, which was the occasion
of the greatest and, indeed, of almost the only serious danger, from
any foreign source, which threatened the dominions of Peter during the
whole course of his reign.




Duration of the war with Sweden--Catharine--Her origin--Destitution--Her
kind teacher--Dr. Gluck--She goes to Marienburg--Her character--Mode of
life at Marienburg--Her lover--His person and character--Catharine is
married--The town captured--Catharine made prisoner--Her anxiety and
sorrow--The Russian general--Catharine saved--Catharine in the general's
service--Seen by Menzikoff--Transferred to his service--Transferred to
the Czar--Privately married--Affairs on the Pruth--The emperor's
danger--Catharine in camp--A bribe--Catharine saves her husband--The
vizier's excuses--A public marriage determined on--Arrangements--The
little bridesmaids--Wedding ceremonies--Festivities and rejoicings--Birth
of Catharine's son--Importance of the event--The baptism--Dwarfs in the
pies--Influence of Catharine over her husband--Use which she made of her
power--Peter's jealousy--Dreadful punishment--Catharine's usefulness to
the Czar--Her imperfect education--Her final exaltation to the throne

It was about the year 1690 that Peter the Great commenced his reign, and
he died in 1725, as will appear more fully in the sequel of this volume.
Thus the duration of the reign was thirty-five years.  The wars between
Russia and Sweden occupied principally the early part of the reign
through a period of many years.  The battle of Pultowa, by which the
Swedish invasion of the Russian territories was repelled, was fought in
1709, nearly twenty years after the Czar ascended the throne.

During the period while the Czar was thus occupied in his mortal struggle
with the King of Sweden, there appeared upon the stage, in connection
with him, a lady, who afterward became one of the most celebrated
personages of history.  This lady was the Empress Catharine.  The
character of this lady, the wonderful and romantic incidents of her life,
and the great fame of her exploits, have made her one of the most
celebrated personages of history.  We can, however, here only give a
brief account of that portion of her life which was connected with the
history of Peter.

Catharine was born in a little village near the town of Marienburg, in
Livonia.[1]  Her parents were in very humble circumstances, and they both
died when she was a little child, leaving her in a very destitute and
friendless condition.  The parish clerk, who was the teacher of a little
school in which perhaps she had been a pupil--for she was then four or
five years old--felt compassion for her, and took her home with him to
his own house.  He was the more disposed to do this as Catharine was a
bright child, full of life and activity, and, at the same time, amiable
and docile in disposition, so that she was easily governed.

After Catharine had been some time at the house of the clerk, a certain
Dr. Gluck, who was the minister of Marienburg, happening to be on a visit
to the clerk, saw her and heard her story.  The minister was very much
pleased with the appearance and manners of the child, and he proposed
that the clerk should give her up to him.  This the clerk was willing to
do, as his income was very small, and the addition even of such a child
to his family of course somewhat increased his expenses.  Besides, he
knew that it would be much more advantageous for Catharine, for the time
being, and also much more conducive to her future success in life, to be
brought up in the minister's family at Marienburg than in his own humble
home in the little village.  So Catharine went to live with the

Here she soon made herself a great favorite.  She was very intelligent
and active, and very ambitious to learn whatever the minister's wife was
willing to teach her.  She also took great interest in making herself
useful in every possible way, and displayed in her household avocations,
and in all her other duties, a sort of womanly energy which was quite
remarkable in one of her years.  She learned to knit, to spin, and to
sew, and she assisted the minister's wife very much in these and similar
occupations.  She had learned to read in her native tongue at the clerk's
school, but now she conceived the idea of learning the German language.
She devoted herself to this task with great assiduity and success, and as
soon as she had made such progress as to be able to read in that
language, she spent all her leisure time in perusing the German books
which she found in the minister's library.

Years passed away, and Catharine grew up to be a young woman, and then a
certain young man, a subaltern officer in the Swedish army--for this was
at the time when Livonia was ill possession of the Swedes--fell in love
with her.  The story was, that Catharine one day, in some way or other,
fell into the hands of two Swedish soldiers, by whom she would probably
have been greatly maltreated; but the officer, coming by at that time,
rescued her and sent her safe to Dr. Gluck.  The officer had lost one of
his arms in some battle, and was covered with the scars of other wounds;
but he was a very generous and brave man, and was highly regarded by all
who knew him.  When he offered Catharine his hand, she was strongly
induced by her gratitude to him to accept it, but she said she must ask
the minister's approval of his proposal, for he had been a father to her,
she said, and she would take no important step without his consent.

The minister, after suitable inquiry respecting the officer's character
and prospects, readily gave his consent, and so it was settled that
Catharine should be married.

Now it happened that these occurrences took place not very long after the
war broke out between Sweden and Russia, and almost immediately after
Catharine's marriage--some writers say on the very same day of the
wedding, and others on the day following--a Russian army came suddenly up
to Marienburg, took possession of the town, and made a great many of the
inhabitants prisoners.  Catharine herself was among the prisoners thus
taken.  The story was, that in the confusion and alarm she hid herself
with others in an oven, and was found by the Russian soldiers there, and
carried off as a valuable prize.

What became of the bridegroom is not certainly known.  He was doubtless
called suddenly to his post when the alarm was given of the enemy's
approach, and a great many different stories were told in respect to what
afterward befell him.  One thing is certain, and that is, that his young
bride never saw him again.[3]

Catharine, when she found herself separated from her husband and shut up
a helpless prisoner with a crowd of other wretched and despairing
captives, was overwhelmed with grief at the sad reverse of fortune that
had befallen her.  She had good reason not only to mourn for the
happiness which she had lost, but also to experience very anxious and
gloomy forebodings in respect to what was before her, for the main object
of the Russians in making prisoners of the young and beautiful women
which they found in the towns that they conquered, was to send them to
Turkey, and to sell them there as slaves.

Catharine was, however, destined to escape this dreadful fate.  One of
the Russian generals, in looking over the prisoners, was struck with her
appearance, and with the singular expression of grief and despair which
her countenance displayed.  He called her to him and asked her some
questions; and he was more impressed by the intelligence and good sense
which her answers evinced than he had been by the beauty of her
countenance.  He bid her quiet her fears, promising that he would himself
take care of her.  He immediately ordered some trusty men to take her to
his tent, where there were some women who would take charge of and
protect her.

These women were employed in various domestic occupations in the service
of the general.  Catharine began at once to interest herself in these
employments, and to do all in her power to assist in them; and at length,
as one of the writers who gives an account of these transactions goes on
to say, "the general, finding Catharine very proper to manage his
household affairs, gave her a sort of authority and inspection over these
women and over the rest of the domestics, by whom she soon came to be
very much beloved by her manner of using them when she instructed them in
their duty.  The general said himself that he never had been so well
served as since Catharine had been with him.

"It happened one day that Prince Menzikoff, who was the general's
commanding officer and patron, saw Catharine, and, observing something
very extraordinary in her air and behavior, asked the general who she was
and in what condition she served him.  The general related to him her
story, taking care, at the same time, to do justice to the merit of
Catharine.  The prince said that he was himself very ill served, and had
occasion for just such a person about him.  The general replied that he
was under too great obligations to his highness the prince to refuse him
any thing that he asked.  He immediately called Catharine into his
presence, and told her that that was Prince Menzikoff, and that he had
occasion for a servant like herself, and that he was able to be a much
better friend to her than he himself could be, and that he had too much
kindness for her to prevent her receiving such a piece of honor and good

"Catharine answered only with a profound courtesy, which showed, if not
her consent to the change proposed, at least her conviction that it was
not then in her power to refuse the offer that was made to her.  In
short, Prince Menzikoff took her with him, or she went to him the same

Catharine remained in the service of the prince for a year or two, and
was then transferred from the household of the prince to that of the Czar
almost precisely in the same way in which she had been resigned to the
prince by the general.  The Czar saw her one day while he was at dinner
with the prince, and he was so much pleased with her appearance, and with
the account which the prince gave him of her character and history, that
he wished to have her himself; and, however reluctant the prince may have
been to lose her, he knew very well that there was no alternative for him
but to give his consent.  So Catharine was transferred to the household
of the Czar.

She soon acquired a great ascendency over the Czar, and in process of
time she was privately married to him.  This private marriage took place
in 1707.  For several years afterward the marriage was not publicly
acknowledged; but still Catharine's position was well understood, and her
power at court, as well as her personal influence over her husband,
increased continually.

Catharine sometimes accompanied the emperor in his military campaigns,
and at one time was the means, it is thought, of saving him from very
imminent danger.  It was in the year 1711.  The Czar was at that time at
war with the Turks, and he had advanced into the Turkish territory with a
small, but very compact and well-organized army.  The Turks sent out a
large force to meet him, and at length, after various marchings and
manoeuvrings, the Czar found himself surrounded by a Turkish force three
times as large as his own.  The Russians fortified their camp, and the
Turks attacked them.  The latter attempted for two or three successive
days to force the Russian lines, but without success, and at length the
grand vizier, who was in command of the Turkish troops, finding that he
could not force his enemy to quit their intrenchments, determined to
starve them out; so he invested the place closely on all sides.  The Czar
now gave himself up for lost, for he had only a very small stock of
provisions, and there seemed no possible way of escape from the snare in
which he found himself involved.  Catharine was with her husband in the
camp at this time, having had the courage to accompany him in the
expedition, notwithstanding its extremely dangerous character, and the
story is that she was the means of extricating him from his hazardous
position by dextrously bribing the vizier.

The way in which she managed the affair was this.  She arranged it with
the emperor that he was to propose terms of peace to the vizier, by
which, on certain conditions, he was to be allowed to retire with his
army.  Catharine then secretly made up a very valuable present for the
vizier, consisting of jewels, costly decorations, and other such
valuables belonging to herself, which, as was customary in those times,
she had brought with her on the expedition, and also a large sum of
money.  This present she contrived to send to the vizier at the same time
with the proposals of peace made by the emperor.  The vizier was
extremely pleased with the present, and he at once agreed to the
conditions of peace, and thus the Czar and all his army escaped the
destruction which threatened them.

The vizier was afterward called to account for having thus let off his
enemies so easily when he had them so completely in his power; but he
defended himself as well as he could by saying that the terms on which he
had made the treaty were as good as could be obtained in any way, adding,
hypocritically, that "God commands us to pardon our enemies when they ask
us to do so, and humble themselves before us."

In the mean time, years passed away, and the emperor and Catharine lived
very happily together, though the connection which subsisted between
them, while it was universally known, was not openly or publicly
recognized.  In process of time they had two or three children, and this,
together with the unassuming but yet faithful and efficient manner in
which Catharine devoted herself to her duties as wife and mother,
strengthened the bond which bound her to the Czar, and at length, in the
year 1712, Peter determined to place her before the world in the position
to which he had already privately and unofficially raised her, by a new
and public marriage.

It was not pretended, however, that the Czar was to be married to
Catharine now for the first time, but the celebration was to be in honor
of the nuptials long before performed.  Accordingly, in the invitations
that were sent out, the expression used to denote the occasion on which
the company was to be convened was "to celebrate his majesty's old
wedding."  The place where the ceremony was to be performed was St.
Petersburg, for this was now many years after St. Petersburg had been

[Illustration: The Empress Catharine.]

Very curious arrangements were made for the performance of this
extraordinary ceremony.  The Czar appeared in the dress and character of
an admiral of the fleet, and the other officers of the fleet, instead of
the ministers of state and great nobility, were made most prominent on
the occasion, and were appointed to the most honorable posts.  This
arrangement was made partly, no doubt, for the purpose of doing honor to
the navy, which the Czar was now forming, and increasing the
consideration of those who were connected with it in the eyes of the
country.  As Catharine had no parents living, it was necessary to appoint
persons to act in their stead "to give away the bride."  It was to the
vice admiral and the rear admiral of the fleet that the honor of acting
in this capacity was assigned.  They represented the bride's father,
while Peter's mother, the empress dowager, and the lady of the vice
admiral of the fleet represented her mother.

Two of Catharine's own daughters were appointed bridesmaids.  Their
appointment was, however, not much more than an honorary one, for the
children were very young, one of them being five and the other only three
years old.  They appeared for a little time pending the ceremony, and
then, becoming tired, they were taken away, and their places supplied by
two young ladies of the court, nieces of the Czar.

The wedding ceremony itself was performed at seven o'clock in the
morning, in a little chapel belonging to Prince Menzikoff, and before a
small company, no person being present at that time except those who had
some official part to perform.  The great wedding party had been invited
to meet at the Czar's palace later in the day.  After the ceremony had
been performed in the chapel, the emperor and empress went from the
chapel into Menzikoff's palace, and remained there until the time arrived
to repair to the palace of the Czar.  Then a grand procession was formed,
and the married pair were conducted through the streets to their own
palace with great parade.  As it was winter, the bridal party were
conveyed in sleighs instead of carriages.  These sleighs, or sledges as
they were called, were very elegantly decorated, and were drawn by six
horses each.  The procession was accompanied by a band of music,
consisting of trumpets, kettle-drums, and other martial instruments.  The
entertainment at the palace was very splendid, and the festivities were
concluded in the evening by a ball.  The whole city, too, was lighted up
that night with bonfires and illuminations.

Three years after this public solemnization of the marriage the empress
gave birth to a son.  Peter was perfectly overjoyed at this event.  It is
true that he had one son already, who was born of his first wife, who was
called the Czarewitz, and whose character and melancholy history will be
the subject of the next chapter.  But this was the first son among the
children of Catharine.  She had had only daughters before.  It was in the
very crisis of the difficulties which the Czar had with his eldest son,
and when he was on the point of finally abandoning all hope of ever
reclaiming him from his vices and making him a fit inheritor of the
crown, that this child of Catharine's was born.  These circumstances,
which will be explained more fully in the next chapter, gave great
political importance to the birth of Catharine's son, and Peter caused
the event to be celebrated with great public rejoicings.  The rejoicings
were continued for eight days, and at the baptism of the babe, two kings,
those of Denmark and of Prussia, acted as godfathers.  The name given to
the child was Peter Petrowitz.

The baptism was celebrated with the greatest pomp, and it was attended
with banquetings and rejoicings of the most extraordinary character.
Among other curious contrivances were two enormous pies, one served in
the room of the gentlemen and the other in that of the ladies; for,
according to the ancient Russian custom on such occasions, the sexes were
separated at the entertainments, tables being spread for the ladies and
for the gentlemen in different halls.  From the ladies' pie there stepped
out, when it was opened, a young dwarf, very small, and clothed in a very
slight and very fantastic manner.  The dwarf brought out with him from
the pie some wine-glasses and a bottle of wine.  Taking these in his
hand, he walked around the table drinking to the health of the ladies,
who received him wherever he came with screams of mingled surprise and
laughter.  It was the same in the gentlemen's apartment, except that the
dwarf which appeared before the company there was a female.

The birth of this son formed a new and very strong bond of attachment
between Peter and Catharine, and it increased very much the influence
which she had previously exerted over him.  The influence which she thus
exercised was very great, and it was also, in the main, very salutary.
She alone could approach the Czar in the fits of irritation and anger
into which he often fell when any thing displeased him, and sometimes,
when his rage and fury were such, that no one else would have dared to
come near, Catharine knew how to quiet and calm him, and gradually bring
him back again to reason.  She had great power over him, too, in respect
to the nervous affection--the convulsive twitchings of the head and
face--to which he was subject.  Indeed, it was said that the soothing and
mysterious influence of her gentle nursing in allaying these dreadful
spasms, and relieving the royal patient from the distress which they
occasioned, gave rise to the first feeling of attachment which he formed
for her, and which led him, in the end, to make her his wife.

Catharine often exerted the power which she acquired over her husband for
noble ends.  A great many persons, who from time to time excited the
displeasure of the Czar, were rescued from undeserved death, and
sometimes from sufferings still more terrible than death, by her
interposition.  In many ways she softened the asperities of Peter's
character, and lightened the heavy burden of his imperial despotism.
Every one was astonished at the ascendency which she acquired over the
violent and cruel temper of her husband, and equally pleased with the
good use which she made of her power.

There was not, however, always perfect peace between Catharine and her
lord.  Catharine was compelled sometimes to endure great trials.  On one
occasion the Czar took it into his head, with or without cause, to feel
jealous.  The object of his jealousy was a certain officer of his court
whose name was De la Croix.  Peter had no certain evidence, it would
seem, to justify his suspicions, for he said nothing openly on the
subject, but he at once caused the officer to be beheaded on some other
pretext, and ordered his head to be set up on a pole in a great public
square in Moscow.  He then took Catharine out into the square, and
conveyed her to and fro in all directions across it, in order that she
might see the head in every point of view.  Catharine understood
perfectly well what it all meant, but, though thunderstruck and
overwhelmed with grief and horror at the terrible spectacle, she
succeeded in maintaining a perfect self-control through the whole scene,
until, at length, she was released, and allowed to return to her
apartment, when she burst into tears, and for a long time could not be
comforted or calmed.

With the exception of an occasional outbreak like this, the Czar evinced
a very strong attachment to his consort, and she continued to live with
him a faithful and devoted wife for nearly twenty years; from the period
of her private marriage, in fact, to the death of her husband.  During
all this time she was continually associated with him not only in his
personal and private, but also in his public avocations and cares.  She
accompanied him on his journeys, she aided him with her counsels in all
affairs of state.  He relied a great deal on her judgment in all
questions of policy, whether internal or external; and he took counsel
with her in all matters connected with his negotiations with foreign
states, with the sending and receiving of embassies, the making of
treaties with them, and even, when occasion occurred, in determining the
question of peace or war.

And yet, notwithstanding the lofty qualities of statesmanship that
Catharine thus displayed in the counsel and aid which she rendered her
husband, the education which she had received while at the minister's in
Marienburg was so imperfect that she never learned to write, and
whenever, either during her husband's life or after his death, she had
occasion to put her signature to letters or documents of any kind, she
did not attempt to write the name herself, but always employed one of her
daughters to do it for her.

At length, toward the close of his reign, Peter, having at that time no
son to whom he could intrust the government of his empire after he was
gone, caused Catharine to be solemnly crowned as empress, with a view of
making her his successor on the throne.  But before describing this
coronation it is necessary first to give an account of the circumstances
which led to it, by relating the melancholy history of Alexis, Peter's
oldest son.

[1] The situation of the place is shown in the map on page 197.

[2] The accounts which different historians give of the circumstances of
Catharine's early history vary very materially.  One authority states
that the occasion of Gluck's taking Catharine away was the death of the
curate and of all his family by the plague.  Gluck came, it is said, to
the house to see the family, and found them all dead.  The bodies were
lying on the floor, and little Catharine was running about among them,
calling upon one after another to give her some bread.  After Gluck came
in, and while he was looking at the bodies in consternation, she came up
behind him and pulled his robe, and asked him if he would not give her
some bread.  So he took her with him to his own home.

[3] There was a story that he was taken among the prisoners at the battle
of Pultowa, and that, on making himself known, he was immediately put in
irons and sent off in exile to Siberia.




Birth of Alexis--His father's hopes--Advantages enjoyed by
Alexis--Marriage proposed--Account of the wedding--Alexis returns to
Russia--Cruel treatment of his wife--Her hardships and sufferings--The
Czar's displeasure--Birth of a son--Cruel neglect--The Czar sent
for--Death-bed scene--Grief of the attendants--The princess's
despair--High rank no guarantee for happiness--Peter's
ultimatum--Letter to Alexis--Positive declarations contained in it--The
real ground of complaint--Alexis's excuses--His reply to his father--He
surrenders his claim to the crown--Another letter from the Czar--New
threats--More positive declarations--Alexis's answer--Real state of his
health--His depraved character--The companions and counselors of
Alexis--Priests--Designs of Alexis's companions--General policy of an
opposition--The old Muscovite party--Views of Alexis--Peter at a
loss--One more final determination--Farewell conversation--Alexis's
duplicity--Letter from Copenhagen--Alternative offered--Peter's
unreasonable severity--Alexis made desperate--Alexis's resolution

The reader will perhaps recollect that Peter had a son by his first
wife, an account of whose birth was given in the first part of this
volume.  The name of this son was Alexis, and he was destined to become
the hero of a most dreadful tragedy.  The narrative of it forms a very
dark and melancholy chapter in the history of his father's reign.

Alexis was born in the year 1690.  In the early part of his life his
father took great interest in him, and made him the centre of a great
many ambitious hopes and projects.  Of course, he expected that Alexis
would be his successor on the imperial throne, and he took great
interest in qualifying him for the duties that would devolve upon him
in that exalted station.  While he was a child his father was proud of
him as his son and heir, and as he grew up he hoped that he would
inherit his own ambition and energy, and he took great pains to inspire
him with the lofty sentiments appropriate to his position, and to train
him to a knowledge of the art of war.

But Alexis had no taste for these things, and his father could not, in
any possible way, induce him to take any interest in them whatever.  He
was idle and spiritless, and nothing could arouse him to make any
exertion.  He spent his time in indolence and in vicious indulgences.
These habits had the effect of undermining his health, and increasing
more and more his distaste for the duties which his father wished him
to perform.

The Czar tried every possible means to produce a change in the
character of his son, and to awaken in him something like an honorable
ambition.  To this end he took Alexis with him in his journeys to
foreign countries, and introduced him to the reigning princes of
eastern Europe, showed him their capitals, explained to him the various
military systems which were adopted by the different powers, and made
him acquainted with the principal personages in their courts.  But all
was of no avail.  Alexis could not be aroused to take an interest in
any thing but idle indulgences and vice.

At length, when Alexis was about twenty years of age, that is, in the
year 1710, his father conceived the idea of trying the effect of
marriage upon him.  So he directed his son to make choice of a wife.
It is not improbable that he himself really selected the lady.  At any
rate, he controlled the selection, for Alexis was quite indifferent in
respect to the affair, and only acceded to the plan in obedience to his
father's commands.

The lady chosen for the bride was a Polish princess, named Charlotta
Christina Sophia, Princess of Wolfenbuttel, and a marriage contract,
binding the parties to each other, was executed with all due formality.

Two years after this marriage contract was formed the marriage was
celebrated.  Alexis was then about twenty-two years of age, and the
princess eighteen.  The wedding, however, was by no means a joyful one.
Alexis had not improved in character since he had been betrothed, and
his father continued to be very much displeased with him.  Peter was at
one time so angry as to threaten that, if his son did not reform his
evil habits, and begin to show some interest in the performance of his
duties, he would have his head shaved and send him to a convent, and so
make a monk of him.

How far the princess herself was acquainted with the facts in respect
to the character of her husband it is impossible to say, but every body
else knew them very well.  The emperor was in very bad humor.  The
princess's father wished to arrange for a magnificent wedding, but the
Czar would not permit it.  The ceremony was accordingly performed in a
very quiet and unostentatious way, in one of the provincial towns of
Poland, and after it was over Alexis went home with his bride to her
paternal domains.

The marriage of Alexis to the Polish princess took place the year
before his father's public marriage with his second wife, the Empress

As Peter had anticipated, the promises of reform which Alexis had made
on the occasion of his marriage failed totally of accomplishment.
After remaining a short time in Poland with his wife, conducting
himself there tolerably well, he set out on his return to Russia,
taking his wife with him.  But no sooner had he got back among his old
associates than he returned to his evil ways, and soon began to treat
his wife with the greatest neglect and even cruelty.  He provided a
separate suite of apartments for her in one end of the palace, while he
himself occupied the other end, where he could be at liberty to do what
he pleased without restraint.  Sometimes a week would elapse without
his seeing his wife at all.  He purchased a small slave, named
Afrosinia, and brought her into his part of the palace, and lived with
her there in the most shameless manner, while his neglected wife, far
from all her friends, alone, and almost broken-hearted, spent her time
in bitterly lamenting her hard fate, and gradually wearing away her
life in sorrow and tears.

She was not even properly provided with the necessary comforts of life.
Her rooms were neglected, and suffered to go out of repair.  The roof
let in the rain, and the cold wind in the winter penetrated through the
ill-fitted windows and doors.  Alexis paid no heed to these things;
but, leaving his wife to suffer, spent his time in drinking and
carousing with Afrosinia and his other companions in vice.

During all this time the attention of the Czar was so much engaged with
the affairs of the empire that he could not interfere efficiently.
Sometimes he would upbraid Alexis for his undutiful and wicked
behavior, and threaten him severely; but the only effect of his
remonstrances would be to cause Alexis to go into the apartment of his
wife as soon as his father had left him, and assail her in the most
abusive manner, overwhelming her with rude and violent reproaches for
having, as he said, made complaints to his father, or "told tales," as
he called it, and so having occasioned his father to find fault with
him.  This the princess would deny.  She would solemnly declare that
she had not made any complaints whatever.  Alexis, however, would not
believe her, but would repeat his denunciations, and then go away in a

This state of things continued for three or four years.  During that
time the princess had one child, a daughter; and at length the time
arrived when she was to give birth to a son; but even the approach of
such a time of trial did not awaken any feeling of kind regard or
compassion on the part of her husband.  His neglect still continued.
No suitable arrangements were made for the princess, and she received
no proper attention during her confinement.  The consequence was, that,
in a few days after the birth of the child, fever set in, and the
princess sank so rapidly under it that her life was soon despaired of.

When she found that she was about to die, she asked that the Czar might
be sent for to come and see her.  Peter was sick at this time, and
almost confined to his bed; but still--let it be remembered to his
honor--he would not refuse this request.  A bed, or litter, was placed
for him on a sort of truck, and in this manner he was conveyed to the
palace where the princess was lying.  She thanked him very earnestly
for coming to see her, and then begged to commit her children, and the
servants who had come with her from her native land, and who had
remained faithful to her through all her trials, to his protection and
care.  She kissed her children, and took leave of them in the most
affecting manner, and then placed them in the arms of the Czar.  The
Czar received them very kindly.  He then bade the mother farewell, and
went away, taking the children with him.

All this time, the room in which the princess was lying, the
antechamber, and all the approaches to the apartment, were filled with
the servants and friends of the princess, who mourned her unhappy fate
so deeply that they were unable to control their grief.  They kneeled
or lay prostrate on the ground, and offered unceasing petitions to
heaven to save the life of their mistress, mingling their prayers with
tears, and sobs, and bitter lamentations.

The physicians endeavored to persuade the princess to take some
medicines which they had brought, but she threw the phials away behind
the bed, begging the physicians not to torment her any more, but to let
her die in peace, as she had no wish to live.

She lingered after this a few days, spending most of her time in
prayer, and then died.

At the time of her death the princess was not much over twenty years of
age.  Her sad and sorrowful fate shows us once more what unfortunately
we too often see exemplified, that something besides high worldly
position in a husband is necessary to enable the bride to look forward
with any degree of confidence to her prospects of happiness when
receiving the congratulations of her friends on her wedding-day.

The death of his wife produced no good effect upon the mind of Alexis.
At the funeral, the Czar his father addressed him in a very stern and
severe manner in respect to his evil ways, and declared to him
positively that, if he did not at once reform and thenceforth lead a
life more in conformity with his position and his obligations, he would
cut him off from the inheritance to the crown, even if it should be
necessary, on that account, to call in some stranger to be his heir.

The communication which the Czar made to his son on this occasion was
in writing, and the terms in which it was expressed were very severe.
It commenced by reciting at length the long and fruitless efforts which
the Czar had made to awaken something like an honorable ambition in the
mind of his son, and to lead him to reform his habits, and concluded,
substantially, as follows:

"How often have I reproached you with the obstinacy of your temper and
the perverseness of your disposition!  How often, even, have I
corrected you for them!  And now, for how many years have I desisted
from speaking any longer of them!  But all has been to no purpose.  My
reproofs have been fruitless.  I have only lost my time and beaten the
air.  You do not so much as strive to grow better, and all your
satisfaction seems to consist in laziness and inactivity.

"Having, therefore, considered all these things, and fully reflected
upon them, as I see I have not been able to engage you by any motives
to do as you ought, I have come to the conclusion to lay before you, in
writing, this my last determination, resolving, however, to wait still
a little longer before I come to a final execution of my purpose, in
order to give you one more trial to see whether you will amend or no.
If you do not, I am fully resolved to cut you off from the succession.

"Do not think that because I have no other son I will not really do
this, but only say it to frighten you.  You may rely upon it that I
will certainly do what I say; for, as I spare not my own life for the
good of my country and the safety of my people, why should I spare you,
who will not take the pains to make yourself worthy of them?  I shall
much prefer to transmit this trust to some worthy stranger than to an
unworthy son.

"(Signed with his majesty's own hand),


The reader will observe, from the phraseology of these concluding
paragraphs, what is made still more evident by the perusal of the whole
letter, that the great ground of Peter's complaint against his son was
not his immorality and wickedness, but his idleness and inefficiency.
If he had shown himself an active and spirited young man, full of
military ardor, and of ambition to rule, he might probably, in his
private life, have been as vicious and depraved as he pleased without
exciting his father's displeasure.  But Peter was himself so full of
ambition and energy, and he had formed, moreover, such vast plans for
the aggrandizement of the empire, many of which could only be commenced
during his lifetime, and must depend for their full accomplishment on
the vigor and talent of his successor, that he had set his heart very
strongly on making his son one of the first military men of the age;
and he now lost all patience with him when he saw him stupidly
neglecting the glorious opportunity before him, and throwing away all
his advantages, in order to spend his time in ease and indulgence, thus
thwarting and threatening to render abortive some of his father's
favorite and most far-reaching plans.

The excuse which Alexis made for his conduct was the same which bad
boys often offer for idleness and delinquency, namely, his ill health.
His answer to his father's letter was as follows.  It was not written
until two or three weeks after his father's letter was received, and in
that interim a son was born to the Empress Catharine, as related in the
last chapter.  It is to this infant son that Alexis alludes in his


"I have read the writing your majesty gave me on the 27th of October,
1715, after the interment of my late spouse.

"I have nothing to reply to it but that if it is your majesty's
pleasure to deprive me of the crown of Russia by reason of my
inability--your will be done.  I even earnestly request it at your
majesty's hands, as I do not think myself fit for the government.  My
memory is much weakened, and without it there is no possibility of
managing affairs.  My mind and body are much decayed by the distempers
to which I have been subject, which renders me incapable of governing
so many people, who must necessarily require a more vigorous man at
their head than I am.

"For which reason I should not aspire to the succession of the crown of
Russia after you--whom God long preserve--even though I had no brother,
as I have at present, whom I pray God also to preserve.  Nor will I
ever hereafter lay claim to the succession, as I call God to witness by
a solemn oath, in confirmation whereof I write and sign this letter
with my own hand.

"I give my children into your hands, and, for my part, desire no more
than a bare maintenance so long as I live, leaving all the rest to your
consideration and good pleasure.

"Your most humble servant and son,


The Czar did not immediately make any rejoinder to the foregoing
communication from his son.  During the fall and winter months of that
year he was much occupied with public affairs, and his health,
moreover, was quite infirm.  At length, however, about the middle of
June, he wrote to his son as follows:

"MY SON,--As my illness hath hitherto prevented me from letting you
know the resolutions I have taken with reference to the answer you
returned to my former letter, I now send you my reply.  I observe that
you there speak of the succession as though I had need of your consent
to do in that respect what absolutely depends on my own will.  But
whence comes it that you make no mention of your voluntary indolence
and inefficiency, and the aversion you constantly express to public
affairs, which I spoke of in a more particular manner than of your ill
health, though the latter is the only thing you take notice of?  I also
expressed my dissatisfaction with your whole conduct and mode of life
for some years past.  But of this you are wholly silent, though I
strongly insisted upon it.

"From these things I judge that my fatherly exhortations make no
impression upon you.  For this reason I have determined to write this
letter to you, and it shall be the last.

"I don't find that you make any acknowledgment of the obligation you
owe to your father who gave you life.  Have you assisted him, since you
came to maturity of years, in his labors and pains?  No, certainly.
The world knows that you have not.  On the other hand, you blame and
abhor whatever of good I have been able to do at the expense of my
health, for the love I have borne to my people, and for their
advantage, and I have all imaginable reason to believe that you will
destroy it all in case you should survive me.

"I can not let you continue in this way.  Either change your conduct,
and labor to make yourself worthy of the succession, or else take upon
you the monastic vow.  I can not rest satisfied with your present
behavior, especially as I find that my health is declining.  As soon,
therefore, as you shall have received this my letter, let me have your
answer in writing, or give it to me yourself in person.  If you do not,
I shall at once proceed against you as a malefactor.--(Signed) PETER."

To this communication Alexis the next day returned the following reply:


"I received yesterday in the morning your letter of the 19th of this
month.  My indisposition will not allow me to write a long answer.  I
shall enter upon a monastic life, and beg your gracious consent for so

"Your most humble servant and son,


There is no doubt that there was some good ground for the complaints
which Alexis made with respect to his health.  His original
constitution was not vigorous, and he had greatly impaired both his
mental and physical powers by his vicious indulgences.  Still, his
excusing himself so much on this ground was chiefly a pretense, his
object being to gain time, and prevent his father from coming to any
positive decision, in order that he might continue his life of
indolence and vice a little longer undisturbed.  Indeed, it was said
that the incapacity to attend to the studies and perform the duties
which his father required of him was mainly due to his continual
drunkenness, which kept him all the time in a sort of brutal stupor.

Nor was the fault wholly on his side.  His father was very harsh and
severe in his treatment of him, and perhaps, in the beginning, made too
little allowance for the feebleness of his constitution.  Neither of
the two were sincere in what they said about Alexis becoming a monk.
Peter, in threatening to send him to a monastery, only meant to
frighten him; and Alexis, in saying that he wished to go, intended only
to circumvent his father, and save himself from being molested by him
any more.  He knew very well that his becoming a monk would be the last
thing that his father would really desire.

Besides, Alexis was surrounded by a number of companions and advisers,
most of them lewd and dissolute fellows like himself, but among them
were some much more cunning and far-sighted than he, and it was under
their advice that he acted in all the measures that he took, and in
every thing that he said and did in the course of this quarrel with his
father.  Among these men were several priests, who, like the rest,
though priests, were vile and dissolute men.  These priests, and
Alexis's other advisers, told him that he was perfectly safe in
pretending to accede to his father's plan to send him to a monastery,
for his father would never think of such a thing as putting the threat
in execution.  Besides, if he did, it would do no harm; for the vows
that he would take, though so utterly irrevocable in the case of common
men, would all cease to be of force in his case, in the event of his
father's death, and his succeeding to the throne.  And, in the mean
time, he could go on, they said, taking his ease and pleasure, and
living as he had always done.

Many of the persons who thus took sides with Alexis, and encouraged him
in his opposition to his father, had very deep designs in so doing.
They were of the party who opposed the improvements and innovations
which Peter had introduced, and who had in former times made the
Princess Sophia their head and rallying-point in their opposition to
Peter's policy.  It almost always happens thus, that when, in a
monarchical country, there is a party opposed to the policy which the
sovereign pursues, the disaffected persons endeavor, if possible, to
find a head, or leader, in some member of the royal family itself, and
if they can gain to their side the one next in succession to the crown,
so much the better.  To this end it is for their interest to foment a
quarrel in the royal family, or, if the germ of a quarrel appears,
arising from some domestic or other cause, to widen the breach as much
as possible, and avail themselves of the dissension to secure the name
and the influence of the prince or princess thus alienated from the
king as their rallying-point and centre of action.

This was just the case in the present instance.  The old Muscovite
party, as it was called, that is, the party opposed to the reforms and
changes which Peter had made, and to the foreign influences which he
had introduced into the realm, gathered around Alexis.  Some of them,
it was said, began secretly to form conspiracies for deposing Peter,
raising Alexis nominally to the throne, and restoring the old order of
things.  Peter knew all this, and the fears which these rumors excited
in his mind greatly increased his anxiety in respect to the course
which Alexis was pursuing and the exasperation which he felt against
his son.  Indeed, there was reason to believe that Alexis himself, so
far as he had any political opinions, had adopted the views of the
malcontents.  It was natural that he should do so, for the old order of
things was much better adapted to the wishes and desires of a selfish
and dissolute despot, who only valued his exaltation and power for the
means of unlimited indulgence in sensuality and vice which they
afforded.  It was this supposed bias of Alexis's mind against his
father's policy of reform that Peter referred to in his letter when he
spoke of Alexis's desire to thwart him in his measures and undo all
that he had done.

When he received Alexis's letter informing him that he was ready to
enter upon the monastic life whenever his father pleased, Peter was for
a time at a loss what to do.  He had no intention of taking Alexis at
his word, for in threatening to make a monk of him he had only meant to
frighten him.  For a time, therefore, after receiving this reply, he
did nothing, but only vented his anger in useless imprecations and

Peter was engaged at this time in very important public affairs arising
out of the wars in which he was engaged with some foreign nations, and
important negotiations which were going on with others.  Not long after
receiving the short letter from Alexis last cited, he was called upon
to leave Russia for a time, to make a journey into central Europe.
Before he went away he called to see Alexis, in order to bid him adieu,
and to state to him once more what he called his final determination.

Alexis, when he heard that his father was coming, got into his bed, and
received him in that way, as if he were really quite sick.

Peter asked him what conclusion he had come to.  Alexis replied, as
before, that he wished to enter a monastery, and that he was ready to
do so at any time.  His father remonstrated with him long and earnestly
against this resolution.  He represented in strong terms the folly of a
young man like himself, in the prime of his years, and with such
prospects before him, abandoning every thing, and shutting himself up
all his days to the gloomy austerities of a monastic life; and he
endeavored to convince him how much better it would be for him to
change his course of conduct, to enter vigorously upon the fulfillment
of his duties as a son and as a prince, and prepare himself for the
glorious destiny which awaited him on the Russian throne.

Finally, the Czar said that he would give him six months longer to
consider of it, and then, bidding him farewell, went away.

As soon as he was gone Alexis rose from his bed, and went away to an
entertainment with some of his companions.  He doubtless amused them
during the carousal by relating to them what had taken place during the
interview with his father, and how earnestly the Czar had argued
against his doing what he had begun originally with threatening to make
him do.

The Czar's business called him to Copenhagen.  While there he received
one or two letters from Alexis, but there was nothing in them to denote
any change in his intentions, and, finally, toward the end of the
summer, the Czar wrote him again in the following very severe and
decided manner:

"Copenhagen, Aug. 26th, 1716.

"MY SON,--Your first letter of the 29th of June, and your next of the
30th of July, were brought to me.  As in them you speak only of the
condition of your health, I send you the present letter to tell you
that I demanded of you your resolution upon the affair of the
succession when I bade you farewell.  You then answered me, in your
usual manner, that you judged yourself incapable of it by reason of
your infirmities, and that you should choose rather to retire into a
convent.  I bade you seriously consider of it again, and then send me
the resolution you should take.  I have expected it for these seven
months, and yet have heard nothing of you concerning it.  You have had
time enough for consideration, and, therefore, as soon as you shall
receive my letter, resolve on one side or on the other.

"If you determine to apply yourself to your duties, and qualify
yourself for the succession, I wish you to leave Petersburg and to come
to me here within a week, so as to be here in time to be present at the
opening of the campaign; but if, on the other hand, you resolve upon
the monastic life, let me know when, where, and on what day you will
execute your resolution, so that my mind may be at rest, and that I may
know what to expect of you.  Send me back your final answer by the same
courier that shall bring you my letter.

"Be particular to let me know the day when you will set out from
Petersburg, if you conclude to come to me, and, if not, precisely when
you will perform your vow.  I again tell you that I absolutely insist
that you shall determine upon something, otherwise I shall conclude
that you are only seeking to gain time in order that you may spend it
in your customary laziness.--PETER."

When we consider that Alexis was at this time a man nearly thirty years
of age, and himself the father of a family, we can easily imagine that
language like this was more adapted to exasperate him and make him
worse than to win him to his duty.  He was, in fact, driven to a
species of desperation by it, and he so far aroused himself from his
usual indolence and stupidity as to form a plan, in connection with
some of his evil advisers, to make his escape from his father's control
entirely by secretly absconding from the country, and seeking a retreat
under the protection of some foreign power.  The manner in which he
executed this scheme, and the consequences which finally resulted from
it, will be related in the next chapter.




Alexis resolves to escape--Alexis makes arrangements for
flight--Secrecy--Alexis deceives Afrosinia--How Alexis obtained the
money--Alexander Kikin--Alexis sets out on his journey--Meets
Kikin--Arrangements--Plans matured--Kikin's cunning contrivances--False
letters--Kikin and Alexis concert their plans--Possibility of being
intercepted--More prevarications--Arrival at Vienna--The Czar sends for
Alexis--Interview with the envoys--Threats of Alexis--He returns to
Naples--St. Elmo--Long negotiations--Alexis resolves at last to
return--His letter to his father--Alexis delivers himself up

When Alexis received the letter from his father at Copenhagen, ordering
him to proceed at once to that city and join his father there, or else
to come to a definite and final conclusion in respect to the convent
that he would join, he at once determined, as intimated in the last
chapter, that he would avail himself of the opportunity to escape from
his father's control altogether.  Under pretense of obeying his
father's orders that he should go to Copenhagen, he could make all the
necessary preparations for leaving the country without suspicion, and
then, when once across the frontier, he could go where he pleased.  He
determined to make his escape to a foreign court, with a view of
putting himself under the protection there of some prince or potentate
who, from feelings of rivalry toward his father, or from some other
motive, might be disposed, he thought, to espouse his cause.

He immediately began to make arrangements for his flight.  What the
exact truth is in respect to the arrangements which he made could never
be fully ascertained, for the chief source of information in respect to
them is from confessions which Alexis made himself after he was brought
back.  But in these confessions he made such confusion, first
confessing a little, then a little more, then contradicting himself,
then admitting, when the thing had been proved against him, what he had
before denied, that it was almost impossible to disentangle the truth
from his confused and contradictory declarations.  The substance of the
case was, however, as follows:

In the first place, he determined carefully to conceal his design from
all except the two or three intimate friends and advisers who
originally counseled him to adopt it.  He intended to take with him his
concubine Afrosinia, and also a number of domestic servants and other
attendants, but he did not allow any of them to know where he was
going.  He gave them to understand that he was going to Copenhagen to
join his father.  He was afraid that, if any of those persons were to
know his real design, it would, in some way or other, be divulged.

As to Afrosinia, he was well aware that she would know that he could
not intend to take her to Copenhagen into his father's presence, and so
he deceived her as to his real design, and induced her to set out with
him, without suspicion, by telling her that he was only going to take
her with him a part of the way.  She was only to go, he said, as far as
Riga, a town on the shores of the Baltic, on the way toward Copenhagen.
Alexis was the less inclined to make a confidante of Afrosinia from the
fact that she had never been willingly his companion.  She was a
Finland girl, a captive taken in war, and preserved to be sold as a
slave on account of her beauty.  When she came into the possession of
Alexis he forced her to submit to his will.  She was a slave, and it
was useless for her to resist or complain.  It is said that Alexis only
induced her to yield to him by drawing his knife and threatening to
kill her on the spot if she made any difficulty.  Thus, although he
seems to have become, in the end, strongly attached to her, he never
felt that she was really and cordially on his side.  He accordingly, in
this case, concealed from her his real designs, and told her he was
only going to take her with him a little way.  He would then send her
back, he said, to Petersburg.  So Afrosinia made arrangements to
accompany him without feeling any concern.

Alexis obtained all the money that he required by borrowing
considerable sums of the different members of the government and
friends of his father, under pretense that he was going to his father
at Copenhagen.  He showed them the letter which his father had written
him, and this, they thought, was sufficient authority for them to
furnish him with the money.  He borrowed in this way various sums of
different persons, and thus obtained an abundant supply.  The largest
sum which he obtained from any one person was two thousand ducats,
which were lent him by Prince Menzikoff, a noble who stood very high in
Peter's confidence, and who had been left by him chief in command
during his absence.  The prince gave Alexis some advice, too, about the
arrangements which he was to make for his journey, supposing all the
time that he was really going to Copenhagen.

The chief instigator and adviser of Alexis in this affair was a man
named Alexander Kikin.  This Kikin was an officer of high rank in the
navy department, under the government, and the Czar had placed great
confidence in him.  But he was inclined to espouse the cause of the old
Muscovite party, and to hope for a revolution that would bring that
party again into power.  He was not at this time in St. Petersburg, but
had gone forward to provide a place of retreat for Alexis.  Alexis was
to meet him at the town of Libau, which stands on the shores of the
Baltic Sea, between St. Petersburg and Konigsberg, on the route which
Alexis would have to take in going to Copenhagen.  Alexis communicated
with Kikin in writing, and Kikin arranged and directed all the details
of the plan.  He kept purposely at a distance from Alexis, to avoid

At length, when all was ready, Alexis set out from St. Petersburg,
taking with him Afrosinia and several other attendants, and journeyed
to Libau.  There he met Kikin, and each congratulated the other warmly
on the success which had thus far attended their operations.

Alexis asked Kikin what place he had provided for him, and Kikin
replied that he had made arrangements for him to go to Vienna.  He had
been to Vienna himself, he said, under pretense of public business
committed to his charge by the Czar, and had seen and conferred with
the Emperor of Germany there, and the emperor agreed to receive and
protect him, and not to deliver him up to his father until some
permanent and satisfactory arrangement should have been made.

"So you must go on," continued Kikin, "to Konigsberg and Dantzic; and
then, instead of going forward toward Copenhagen, you will turn off on
the road to Vienna, and when you get there the emperor will provide a
safe place of retreat for you.  When you arrive there, if your father
should find out where you are, and send some one to try to persuade you
to return home, you must not, on any account, listen to him; for, as
certain as your father gets you again in his power, after your leaving
the country in this way, he will have you beheaded."

Kikin contrived a number of very cunning devices for averting suspicion
from himself and those really concerned in the plot, and throwing it
upon innocent persons.  Among other things, he induced Alexis to write
several letters to different individuals in St. Petersburg--Prince
Menzikoff among the rest--thanking them for the advice and assistance
that they had rendered him in setting out upon his journey, which
advice and assistance was given honestly, on the supposition that he
was really going to his father at Copenhagen.  The letters of thanks,
however, which Kikin dictated were written in an ambiguous and
mysterious manner, being adroitly contrived to awaken suspicion in
Peter's mind, if he were to see them, that these persons were in the
secret of Alexis's plans, and really intended to assist him in his
escape.  When the letters were written Alexis delivered them to Kikin,
who at some future time, in case of necessity, was to show them to
Peter, and pretend that he had intercepted them.  Thus he expected to
avert suspicion from himself, and throw it upon innocent persons.

Kikin also helped Alexis about writing a letter to his father from
Libau, saying to him that he left St. Petersburg, and had come so far
on his way toward Copenhagen.  This letter was, however, not dated at
Libau, where Alexis then was, but at Konigsberg, which was some
distance farther on, and it was sent forward to be transmitted from
that place.

When Alexis had thus arranged every thing with Kikin, he prepared to
set out on his journey again.  He was to go on first to Konigsberg,
then to Dantzic, and there, instead of embarking on board a ship to go
to Copenhagen, according to his father's plan, he was to turn off
toward Vienna.  It was at that point, accordingly, that his actual
rebellion against his father's commands would begin.  He had some
misgivings about being able to reach that point.  He asked Kikin what
he should do in case his father should have sent somebody to meet him
at Konigsberg or Dantzic.

"Why, you must join them in the first instance," said Kikin, "and
pretend to be much pleased to meet them; and then you must contrive to
make your escape from them in the night, either entirely alone, or only
with one servant.  You must abandon your baggage and every thing else.

"Or, if you can not manage to do this," continued Kikin, "you must
pretend to be sick; and if there are two persons sent to meet you, you
can send one of them on before, with your baggage and attendants,
promising yourself to come on quietly afterward with the other; and
then you can contrive to bribe the other, or in some other way induce
him to escape with you, and so go to Vienna."

Alexis did not have occasion to resort to either of these expedients,
for nobody was sent to meet him.  He journeyed on without any
interruption till he came to Konigsberg, which was the place where the
road turned off to Vienna.  It was now necessary to say something to
Afrosinia and his other attendants to account for the new direction
which his journey was to take; so he told them that he had received a
letter from his father, ordering him, before proceeding to Copenhagen,
to go to Vienna on some public business which was to be done there.
Accordingly, when he turned off, they accompanied him without any
apparent suspicion.

Alexis proceeded in this way to Vienna, and there he appealed to the
emperor for protection.  The emperor received him, listened to the
complaints which he made against the Czar--for Alexis, as might have
been expected, cast all the blame of the quarrel upon his father--and,
after entertaining him for a while in different places, he provided him
at last with a secret retreat in a fortress in the Tyrol.

Here Alexis concealed himself, and it was a long time before his father
could ascertain what had become of him.  At length the Czar learned
that he was in the emperor's dominions, and he wrote with his own hand
a very urgent letter to the emperor, representing the misconduct of
Alexis in its true light, and demanding that he should not harbor such
an undutiful and rebellious son, but should send him home.  He sent two
envoys to act as the bearers of this letter, and to bring Alexis back
to his father in case the emperor should conclude to surrender him.

The emperor communicated the contents of this letter to Alexis, but
Alexis begged him not to comply with his father's demand.  He said that
the difficulty was owing altogether to his father's harshness and
cruelty, and that, if he were to be sent back, he should be in danger
of his life from his father's violence.

After long negotiations and delays, the emperor allowed the envoys to
go and visit Alexis in the place of his retreat, with a view of seeing
whether they could not prevail upon him to return home with them.  The
envoys carried a letter to Alexis which his father had written with his
own hand, representing to him, in strong terms, the impropriety and
wickedness of his conduct, and the enormity of the crime which he had
committed against his father by his open rebellion against his
authority, and denouncing against him, if he persisted in his wicked
course, the judgment of God, who had threatened in his Word to punish
disobedient children with eternal death.

But all these appeals had no effect upon the stubborn will of Alexis.
He declared to the envoys that he would not return with them, and he
said, moreover, that the emperor had promised to protect him, and that,
if his father continued to persecute him in this way, he would resist
by force, and, with the aid which the emperor would render him, he
would make war upon his father, depose him from his power, and raise
himself to the throne in his stead.

After this there followed a long period of negotiation and delay,
during which many events occurred which it would be interesting to
relate if time and space permitted.  Alexis was transferred from one
place to another, with a view of eluding any attempt which his father
might make to get possession of him again, either by violence or
stratagem, and at length was conveyed to Naples, in Italy, and was
concealed in the castle of St. Elmo there.

In the mean time Peter grew more and more urgent in his demands upon
the emperor to deliver up his son, and the emperor at last, finding
that the quarrel was really becoming serious, and being convinced,
moreover, by the representations which Peter caused to be made to him,
that Alexis had been much more to blame than he had supposed, seemed
disposed to change his ground, and began now to advise Alexis to return
home.  Alexis was quite alarmed when he found that, after all, he was
not to be supported in his rebellion by the emperor, and at length,
after a great many negotiations, difficulties, and delays, he
determined to make a virtue of necessity and to go home.  His father
had written him repeated letters, promising him a free pardon if he
would return, and threatening him in the most severe and decided manner
if he did not.  To the last of these letters, when Alexis had finally
resolved to go back, he wrote the following very meek and submissive
reply.  It was written from Naples in October, 1717:


"I have received your majesty's most gracious letter by Messrs. Tolstoi
and Rumanrow,[1] in which, as also by word of mouth, I am most
graciously assured of pardon for having fled without your permission in
case I return.  I give you most hearty thanks with tears in my eyes,
and own myself unworthy of all favor.  I throw myself at your feet, and
implore your clemency, and beseech you to pardon my crimes, for which I
acknowledge that I deserve the severest punishment.  But I rely on your
gracious assurances, and, submitting to your pleasure, shall set out
immediately from Naples to attend your majesty at Petersburg with those
whom your majesty has sent.

"Your most humble and unworthy servant, who deserves not to be called
your son,


After having written and dispatched this letter Alexis surrendered
himself to Tolstoi and Rumanrow, and in their charge set out on his
return to Russia, there to be delivered into his father's hands; for
Peter was now in Russia, having returned there as soon as he heard of
Alexis's flight.

[1] These were the envoys, officers of high rank in the government,
whom Peter had sent to bring Alexis back.




His father's manifesto on his return--Interview between Alexis and his
father--Anger of the Czar--Substantial cause for Peter's
excitement--Grand councils convened--Scene in the hall--Conditional
promise of pardon--Alexis humbled--Secret conference--Alexis
disinherited--The new heir--Oaths administered--Alexis
imprisoned--Investigation commenced--Prisoners--The torture--Arrest of
Kikin--The page--He fails to warn Kikin in time--Condemnation of
prisoners--Executions--Dishonest confessions of Alexis--His
excesses--Result of the examinations--Proofs against Alexis--An
admission--Testimony of Afrosinia

As soon as Alexis arrived in the country, his father issued a
manifesto, in which he gave a long and full account of his son's
misdemeanors and crimes, and of the patient and persevering, but
fruitless efforts which he himself had made to reclaim him, and
announced his determination to cut him off from the succession to the
crown as wholly and hopelessly irreclaimable.  This manifesto was one
of the most remarkable documents that history records.  It concluded
with deposing Alexis from all his rights as son and heir to his father,
and appointing his younger brother Peter, the little son of Catharine,
as inheritor in his stead; and finally laying the paternal curse upon
Alexis if he ever thereafter pretended to, or in any way claimed the
succession of which he had been deprived.

This manifesto was issued as soon as Peter learned that Alexis had
arrived in the country under the charge of the officers who had been
appointed to bring him, and before the Czar had seen him.  Alexis
continued his journey to Moscow, where the Czar then was.  When he
arrived he went that same night to the palace, and there had a long
conference with his father.  He was greatly alarmed and overawed by the
anger which his father expressed, and he endeavored very earnestly, by
expressions of penitence and promises of amendment, to appease him.
But it was now too late.  The ire of the Czar was thoroughly aroused,
and he could not be appeased.  He declared that he was fully resolved
on deposing his son, as he had announced in his manifesto, and that the
necessary steps for making the act of deposition in a formal and solemn
manner, so as to give it full legal validity as a measure of state,
would be taken on the following day.

It must be confessed that the agitation and anger which Peter now
manifested were not wholly without excuse, for the course which Alexis
had pursued had been the means of exposing his father to a great and
terrible danger--to that, namely, of a rebellion among his subjects.
Peter did not even know but that such a rebellion was already planned
and was ripe for execution, and that it might not break out at any
time, notwithstanding his having succeeded in recovering possession of
the person of Alexis, and in bringing him home.  Of such a rebellion,
if one had been planned, the name of Alexis would have been, of course,
the watch-word and rallying-point, and Peter had a great deal of ground
for apprehension that such a one had been extensively organized and was
ready to be carried into effect.  He immediately set himself at work to
ferret out the whole affair, resolving, however, in the first place, to
disable Alexis himself from doing any farther mischief by destroying
finally and forever all claims on his part to the inheritance of the

Accordingly, on the following morning, before daybreak, the garrison of
the city were put under arms, and a regiment of the Guards was posted
around the palace, so as to secure all the gates and avenues; and
orders were sent, at the same time, to the principal ministers, nobles,
and counselors of state, to repair to the great hall in the castle, and
to the bishops and clergy to assemble in the Cathedral.  Every body
knew that the occasion on which they were convened was that they might
witness the disinheriting of the prince imperial by his father, in
consequence of his vices and crimes; and in coming together in
obedience to the summons, the minds of all men were filled with solemn
awe, like those of men assembling to witness an execution.

When the appointed hour arrived the great bell was tolled, and Alexis
was brought into the hall of the castle, where the nobles were
assembled, bound as a prisoner, and deprived of his sword.  The Czar
himself stood at the upper end of the hall, surrounded by the chief
officers of state.  Alexis was brought before him.  As he approached he
presented a writing to his father, and then fell down on his knees
before him, apparently overwhelmed with grief and shame.

The Czar handed the paper to one of his officers who stood near, and
then asked Alexis what it was that he desired.  Alexis, in reply,
begged that his father would have mercy upon him and spare his life.
The Czar said that he would spare his life, and forgive him for all his
treasonable and rebellious acts, on condition that he would make a full
and complete confession, without any restriction or reserve, of every
thing connected with his late escape from the country, explaining fully
all the details of the plan which he had formed, and reveal the names
of all his advisers and accomplices.  But if his confession was not
full and complete--if he suppressed or concealed any thing, or the name
of any person concerned in the affair or privy to it, then this promise
of pardon should be null and void.

The Czar also said that Alexis must renounce the succession to the
crown, and must confirm the renunciation by a solemn oath, and
acknowledge it by signing a declaration, in writing, to that effect
with his own hand.  To all this, Alexis, who seemed overwhelmed with
contrition and anguish, solemnly agreed, and declared that he was ready
to make a full and complete confession.

The Czar then asked his son who it was that advised him and aided him
in his late escape from the kingdom.  Alexis seemed unwilling to reply
to this question in the midst of such an assemblage, but said something
to his father in a low voice, which the others could not hear.  In
consequence of what he thus said his father took him into an adjoining
room, and there conversed with him in private for a few minutes, and
then both returned together into the public hall.  It is supposed that
while they were thus apart Alexis gave his father the names of some of
those who had aided and abetted him in his absconding, for immediately
afterward three couriers were dispatched in three different directions,
as if with orders to arrest the persons who were thus accused.

As soon as Alexis and his father had returned into the hall, the
document was produced which the prince was to sign, renouncing the
succession to the crown.  The signature and seal of Alexis were affixed
to this document with all due formality.  Then a declaration was made
on the part of the Czar, stating the reasons which had induced his
majesty to depose his eldest son from the succession, and to appoint
his younger son, Peter, in his place.  This being done, all the
officers present were required to make a solemn oath on the Gospels,
and to sign a written declaration, of which several copies had
previously been prepared, importing that the Czar, having excluded from
the crown his son Alexis, and appointed his son Peter his successor in
his stead, they owned the legality and binding force of the decree,
acknowledged Peter as the true and rightful heir, and bound themselves
to stand by him with their lives against any or all who should oppose
him, and declared that they never would, under any pretense whatsoever,
adhere to Alexis, or assist him in recovering the succession.

The whole company then repaired to the Cathedral, where the bishops and
other ecclesiastics were assembled, and there the whole body of the
clergy solemnly took the same oath and subscribed the same declaration.
The same oath was also afterward administered to all the officers of
the army, governors of the provinces, and other public functionaries
throughout the empire.

When these ceremonies at the palace and at the Cathedral were
concluded, the company dispersed.  Alexis was placed in confinement in
one of the palaces in Moscow, and none were allowed to have access to
him except those whom the Czar appointed to keep him in charge.

Immediately after this the necessary proceedings for a full
investigation of the whole affair were commenced in a formal and solemn
manner.  A series of questions were drawn up and given to Alexis, that
he might make out deliberate answers to them in writing.  Grand courts
of investigation and inquiry were convened in Moscow, the great
dignitaries both of Church and state being summoned from all parts of
the empire to attend them.  These persons came to the capital in great
state, and, in going to and fro to attend at the halls of judgment from
day to day, they moved through the streets with such a degree of pomp
and parade as to attract great crowds of spectators.  As fast as the
names were discovered of persons who were implicated in Alexis's
escape, or who were suspected of complicity in it, officers were
dispatched to arrest them.  Some were taken from their beds at
midnight, without a moment's warning, and shut up in dungeons in a
great fortress at Moscow.  When questioned, if they seemed inclined to
return evasive answers, or to withhold any information of which the
judges thought they were possessed, they were taken into the
torturing-room and put to the torture.

One of the first who was arrested was Alexander Kikin, who had been
Alexis's chief confidant and adviser in all his proceedings.  Kikin had
taken extreme precautions to guard against having his agency in the
affair found out; but Alexis, in the answers that he gave to the first
series of questions that were put to him, betrayed him.  Kikin was
aware of the danger, and, in order to secure for himself some chance of
escape in case Alexis should make disclosures implicating him, had
bribed a page, who was always in close attendance upon the Czar, to let
him know immediately in case of any movement to arrest him.

The name of this page was Baklanoffsky.  He was in the apartment at the
time that the Czar was writing the order for Kikin's arrest, standing,
as was his wont, behind the chair of the Czar, so as to be ready at
hand to convey messages or to wait upon his master.  He looked over,
and saw the order which the Czar was writing.  He immediately contrived
some excuse to leave the apartment, and hurrying away, he went to the
post-house and sent on an express by post to Kikin at Petersburg to
warn him of the danger.

But the Czar, noticing his absence, sent some one off after him, and
thus his errand at the post-house was discovered, but not until after
the express had gone.  Another express was immediately sent off with
the order for Kikin's arrest, and both the couriers arrived in
Petersburg very nearly at the same time.  The one, however, who brought
the warning was a little too late.  When he arrived the house of the
commissioner was surrounded by a guard of fifty grenadiers, and
officers were then in Kikin's apartment taking him out of his bed.
They put him at once in irons and took him away, scarcely allowing him
time to bid his wife farewell.

The page was, of course, arrested and sent to prison too.  A number of
other persons, many of whom were of very high rank, were arrested in a
similar manner.

The arrival of Alexis at Moscow took place early in February, and
nearly all of February and March were occupied with these arrests and
the proceedings of the court in trying the prisoners.  At length,
toward the end of March, a considerable number, Kikin himself being
among them, were condemned to death, and executed in the most dreadful
manner in a great public square in the centre of Moscow.  One was
impaled alive; that is, a great stake was driven through his body into
the ground, and he was left in that situation to die.  Others were
broken on the wheel.  One, a bishop, was burnt.  The heads of the
principal offenders were afterward cut off and set up on poles at the
four corners of a square inclosure made for the purpose, the impaled
body lying in the middle.

The page who had been bribed by Kikin was not put to death.  His life
was spared, perhaps on account of his youth, but he was very severely
punished by scourging.

During all this time Alexis continued to be confined to his prison, and
he was subjected to repeated examinations and cross-examinations, in
order to draw from him not only the whole truth in respect to his own
motives and designs in his flight, but also such information as might
lead to the full development of the plans and designs of the party in
Russia who were opposed to the government of Peter, and who had
designed to make use of the name and position of Alexis for the
accomplishment of their schemes.  Alexis had promised to make a full
and complete confession, but he did not do so.  In the answers to the
series of questions which were first addressed to him, he confessed as
much as he thought was already known, and endeavored to conceal the
rest.  In a short time, however, many things that he had at first
denied or evaded were fully proved by other testimony taken in the
trial of the prisoners who have already been referred to.  Then Alexis
was charged with the omissions or evasions in his confession which had
thus been made to appear, and asked for an explanation, and thereupon
he made new confessions, acknowledging the newly-discovered facts, and
excusing himself for not having mentioned them before by saying that he
had forgotten them, or else that he was afraid to divulge them for fear
of injuring the persons that would be implicated by them.  Thus he went
on contradicting and involving himself more and more by every fresh
confession, until, at last, his father, and all the judges who had
convened to investigate the case, ceased to place any confidence in any
thing that he said, and lost almost all sympathy for him in his

The examination was protracted through many months.  The result of it,
on the whole, was, that it was fully proved that there was a powerful
party in Russia opposed to the reforms and improvements of the Czar,
and particularly to the introduction of the European civilization into
the country, who were desirous of effecting a revolution, and who
wished to avail themselves of the quarrel between Alexis and his father
to promote their schemes.  Alexis was too much stupefied by his
continual drunkenness to take any very active or intelligent part in
these schemes, but he was more or less distinctly aware of them; and in
the offers which he had made to enter a monastery and renounce all
claims to the crown he had been utterly insincere, his only object
having been to blind his father by means of them and gain time.  He
acknowledged that he had hated his father, and had wished for his
death, and when he fled to Vienna it was his intention to remain until
he could return and take possession of the empire in his father's
place.  He, however, solemnly declared that it was never his intention
to take any steps himself toward that end during his father's lifetime,
though he admitted, at last, when the fact had been pretty well proved
against him by other evidence, that, in case an insurrection in his
behalf had broken out in Russia, and he had been called upon, he should
have joined the rebels.

A great deal of information, throwing light upon the plans of Alexis
and of the conspirators in Russia connected with him, was obtained from
the disclosures made by Afrosinia.  As has already been stated, she had
been taken by Alexis as a slave, and forced, against her will, to join
herself to him and to follow his fortunes.  He had never admitted her
into his confidence, but had induced her, from time to time, to act as
he desired by telling her any falsehood which would serve the purpose.
She consequently was not bound to him by any ties of honor or
affection, and felt herself at liberty to answer freely all questions
which were put to her by the judges.  Her testimony was of great value
in many points, and contributed very essentially toward elucidating the
whole affair.




Condition of Alexis--The two tribunals--Their powers--The Czar calls
for a decision--His addresses to the two councils--Deliberation of the
clergy--Their answer--Their quotations from Scripture--Cautious
language used by the bishops--They suggest clemency and
mercy--Additional confessions made by Alexis--The priest--Tolstoi sent
to Alexis--The Czar's three final questions--Alexis's three
answers--His account of the manner in which he had been educated--His
feelings toward his father--His attempts to maim himself--His
treasonable designs--Alexis's confession sent to the council--Decision
of the council--The promise of pardon--Forfeiture of it--Conclusion of
the sentence--The signatures--The 6th of July--The Czar's mental
struggles--Alexis brought out to hear his sentence--Overwhelmed with
dismay--Visit of his father--Sorrowful scene--Alexis sends a second
time for his father--His death--Czar's circular--The body laid in
state--Rumors circulated--Funeral ceremonies--The opposition broken
up--The mother of Alexis--Afrosinia--The Czar pardons her

The examinations and investigations described in the last chapter were
protracted through a period of several months.  They were commenced in
February, and were not concluded until June.  During all this time
Alexis had been kept in close confinement, except when he had been
brought out before his judges for the various examinations and
cross-examinations to which he had been subjected; and as the truth in
respect to his designs became more and more fully developed, and the
danger in respect to the result increased, he sank gradually into a
state of distress and terror almost impossible to be conceived.

The tribunals before whom he was tried were not the regular judicial
tribunals of the country.  They were, on the other hand, two grand
convocations of all the great official dignitaries of the Church and of
the state, that were summoned expressly for this purpose--not to
_decide_ the case, for, according to the ancient customs of the Russian
empire, that was the sole and exclusive province of the Czar, but to
aid him in investigating it, and then, if called upon, to give him
their counsel in respect to the decision of it.  One of these
assemblies consisted of the ecclesiastical authorities, the
archbishops, the bishops, and other dignitaries of the Church.  The
other was composed of nobles, ministers of state, officers of the army
and navy in high command, and other great civil and military
functionaries.  These two assemblies met and deliberated in separate
halls, and pursued their investigations in respect to the several
persons implicated in the affair, as they were successively brought
before them, under the direction of the Czar, though the final disposal
of each case rested, it was well understood, with him alone.

At length, in the month of June, when all the other cases had been
disposed of, and the proof in respect to Alexis was considered
complete, the Czar sent in a formal address to each of these
conventions, asking their opinion and advice in respect to what he
ought to do with his son.

In his address to the archbishops and bishops, he stated that, although
he was well aware that he had himself absolute power to judge his son
for his crimes, and to dispose of him according to his own will and
pleasure, without asking advice of any one, still, "as men were
sometimes less discerning," he said, "in their own affairs than in
those of others, so that even the most skillful physicians do not run
the hazard of prescribing for themselves, but call in the assistance of
others when they are indisposed," in the same manner he, having the
fear of God before his eyes, and being afraid to offend him, had
decided to bring the question at issue between himself and his son
before them, that they might examine the Word of God in relation to it,
and give their opinion, in writing, what the will of God in such a case
might be.  He wished also, he said, that the opinion to which they
should come should be signed by each one of them individually, with his
own hand.

He made a similar statement in his address to the grand council of
civil authorities, calling upon them also to give their opinion in
respect to what should be done with Alexis.  "I beg of you," he said,
in the conclusion of his address, "to consider of the affair, to
examine it seriously and with attention, and see what it is that our
son has deserved, without flattering me, or apprehending that, if in
your judgment he deserves no more than slight punishment, it will be
disagreeable to me; for I swear to you, by the Great God and by his
judgments, that you have nothing to fear from me on this account.

"Neither are you to allow the consideration that it is the son of your
sovereign that you are to pass judgment upon to have any effect upon
you.  But do justice without respect of persons, so that your
conscience and mine may not reproach us at the great day of judgment."

The convocation of clergy, in deliberating upon the answer which they
were to make to the Czar, deemed it advisable to proceed with great
caution.  They were not quite willing to recommend directly and openly
that Alexis should be put to death, while, at the same time, they
wished to give the sanction of their approval for any measures of
severity which the Czar might be inclined to take.  So they forbore to
express any positive opinion of their own, but contented themselves
with looking out in the Scriptures, both in the Old and New Testament,
the terrible denunciations which are therein contained against
disobedient and rebellious children, and the accounts of fearful
punishments which were inflicted upon them in Jewish history.  They
began their statement by formally acknowledging that Peter himself had
absolute power to dispose of the case of his son according to his own
sovereign will and pleasure; that they had no jurisdiction in the case,
and could not presume to pronounce judgment, or say any thing which
could in any way restrain or limit the Czar in doing what he judged
best.  But nevertheless, as the Czar had graciously asked them for
their counsel as a means of instructing his own mind previously to
coming to a decision, they would proceed to quote from the Holy
Scriptures such passages as might be considered to bear upon the
subject, and to indicate the will of God in respect to the action of a
sovereign and father in such a case.

They then proceeded to quote the texts and passages of Scripture.  Some
of these texts were denunciations of rebellious and disobedient
children, such as, "The eye that mocketh his father and that despiseth
to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pluck it out," and
the Jewish law providing that, "If a man have a stubborn and rebellious
son, who will not obey the voice of his father nor the voice of his
mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto
them, then shall his father and mother lay hold of him, and bring him
out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place, and
shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is rebellious: he
will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.  And all the
men of his city shall stone him with stones that he die."

There were other passages quoted relating to actual cases which
occurred in the Jewish history of sons being punished with death for
crimes committed against their parents, such as that of Absalom, and

The bearing and tendency of all these extracts from the Scriptures was
to justify the severest possible treatment of the unhappy criminal.
The bishops added, however, at the close of their communication, that
they had made these extracts in obedience to the command of their
sovereign, not by way of pronouncing sentence, or making a decree, or
in any other way giving any authoritative decision on the question at
issue, but only to furnish to the Czar himself such spiritual guidance
and instruction in the case as the word of God afforded.  It would be
very far from their duty, they said, to condemn any one to death, for
Jesus Christ had taught his ministers not to be governed by a spirit of
anger, but by a spirit of meekness.  They had no power to condemn any
one to death, or to seek his blood.  That, when necessary, was the
province of the civil power.  Theirs was to bring men to repentance of
their sins, and to offer them forgiveness of the same through Jesus
Christ their Savior.

They therefore, in submitting their communication to his imperial
majesty, did it only that he might do what seemed right in his own
eyes.  "If he concludes to punish his fallen son," they said,
"according to his deeds, and in a manner proportionate to the enormity
of his crimes, he has before him the declarations and examples which we
have herein drawn from the Scriptures of the Old Testament.  If, on the
other hand, he is inclined to mercy, he has the example of Jesus
Christ, who represented the prodigal son as received and forgiven when
he returned and repented, who dismissed the woman taken in adultery,
when by the law she deserved to be stoned, and who said that he would
have mercy and not sacrifice."

The document concluded by the words,

"The heart of the Czar is in the hand of God, and may he choose the
part to which the hand of God shall turn it."

As for the other assembly, the one composed of the nobles and senators,
and other great civil and military functionaries, before rendering
their judgment they caused Alexis to be brought before them again, in
order to call for additional explanations, and to see if he still
adhered to the confessions that he had made.  At these audiences Alexis
confirmed what he had before said, and acknowledged more freely than he
had done before the treasonable intentions of which he had been guilty.
His spirit seems by this time to have been completely broken, and he
appeared to have thought that the only hope for him of escape from
death was in the most humble and abject confessions and earnest
supplications for pardon.  In these his last confessions, too, he
implicated some persons who had not before been accused.  One was a
certain priest named James.  Alexis said that at one time he was
confessing to this priest, and, among other sins which he mentioned, he
said "that he wished for the death of his father."  The priest's reply
to this was, as Alexis said, "God will pardon you for that, my son, for
we all," meaning the priests, "wish it too."  The priest was
immediately arrested, but, on being questioned, he denied having made
any such reply.  The inquisitors then put him to the torture, and there
forced from him the admission that he had spoken those words.  Whether
he had really spoken them, or only admitted it to put an end to the
torture, it is impossible to say.

They asked him for the names of the persons whom he had heard express a
desire that the Czar should die, but he said he could not recollect.
He had heard it from several persons, but he could not remember who
they were.  He said that Alexis was a great favorite among the people,
and that they sometimes used to drink his health under the designation
of the Hope of Russia.

The Czar himself also obtained a final and general acknowledgment of
guilt from his son, which he sent in to the senate on the day before
their judgment was to be rendered.  He obtained this confession by
sending Tolstoi, an officer of the highest rank in his court, and the
person who had been the chief medium of the intercourse and of the
communications which he had held with his son during the whole course
of the affair, with the following written instructions:


"Go to my son this afternoon, and put down in writing the answers he
shall give to the following questions:

"I. What is the reason why he has always been so disobedient to me, and
has refused to do what I required of him, or to apply himself to any
useful business, notwithstanding all the guilt and shame which he has
incurred by so strange and unusual a course?

"II. Why is it that he has been so little afraid of me, and has not
apprehended the consequences that must inevitably follow from his

"III. What induced him to desire to secure possession of the crown
otherwise than by obedience to me, and following me in the natural
order of succession?  And examine him upon every thing else that bears
any relation to this affair."

Tolstoi went to Alexis in the prison, and read these questions to him.
Alexis wrote out the following statement in reply to them, which
Tolstoi carried to the Czar:

"I. Although I was well aware that to be disobedient as I was to my
father, and refuse to do what please him, was a very strange and
unusual course, and both a sin and a shame, yet I was led into it, in
the first instance, in consequence of having been brought up from my
infancy with a governess and her maids, from whom I learned nothing but
amusements, and diversions, and bigotry, to which I had naturally an

"The person to whom I was intrusted after I was removed from my
governess gave me no better instructions.

"My father, afterward being anxious about my education, and desirous
that I should apply myself to what became the son of the Czar, ordered
me to learn the German language and other sciences, which I was very
averse to.  I applied myself to them in a very negligent manner, and
only pretended to study at all in order to gain time, and without
having any inclination to learn any thing.

"And as my father, who was then frequently with the army, was absent
from me a great deal, he ordered his serene highness, the Prince
Menzikoff, to have an eye upon me.  While he was with me I was obliged
to apply myself, but, as soon as I was out of his sight, the persons
with whom I was left, observing that I was only bent on bigotry and
idleness, on keeping company with priests and monks, and drinking with
them, they not only encouraged me to neglect my business, but took
pleasure in doing as I did.  As these persons had been about me from my
infancy, I was accustomed to observe their directions, to fear them,
and to comply with their wishes in every thing, and thus, by degrees,
they alienated my affections from my father by diverting me with
pleasures of this nature; so that, by little and little, I came to have
not only the military affairs and other actions of my father in horror,
but also his person itself, which made me always wish to be at a
distance from him.  Alexander Kikin especially, when he was with me,
took a great deal of pains to confirm me in this way of life.

"My father, having compassion on me, and desiring still to make me
worthy of the state to which I was called, sent me into foreign
countries; but, as I was already grown to man's estate, I made no
alteration in my way of living.

"It is true, indeed, that my travels were of some advantage to me, but
they were insufficient to erase the vicious habits which had taken such
deep root in me.

"II. It was this evil disposition which prevented my being apprehensive
of my father's correction for my disobedience.  I was really afraid of
him, but it was not with a filial fear.  I only sought for means to get
away from him, and was in no wise concerned to do his will, but to
avoid, by every means in my power, what he required of me.  Of this I
will now freely confess one plain instance.

"When I came back to Petersburg to my father from abroad, at the end of
one of my journeys, he questioned me about my studies, and, among other
things, asked me if I had forgotten what I had learned, and I told him
no.  He then asked me to bring him some of my drawings of plans.  Then,
fearing that he would order me to draw something in his presence, which
I could not do, as I knew nothing of the matter, I set to work to
devise a way to hurt my hand so that it should be impossible for me to
do any thing at all.  So I charged a pistol with ball, and, taking it
in my left hand, I let it off against the palm of my right, with a
design to have shot through it.  The ball, however, missed my hand,
though the powder burned it sufficiently to wound it.  The ball entered
the wall of my room, and it may be seen there still.

"My father, observing my hand to be wounded, asked me how it came.  I
told him an evasive story, and kept the truth to myself.  By this means
you may see that I was afraid of my father, but not with a proper
filial fear.[1]

"III. As to my having desired to obtain the crown otherwise than by
obedience to my father, and following him in regular order of
succession, all the world may easily understand the reason; for, when I
was once out of the right way, and resolved to imitate my father in
nothing, I naturally sought to obtain the succession by any, even the
most wrongful method.  I confess that I was even willing to come into
possession of it by foreign assistance, if it had been necessary.  If
the emperor had been ready to fulfill the promise that he made me of
procuring for me the crown of Russia, even with an armed force, I
should have spared nothing to have obtained it.

"For instance, if the emperor had demanded that I should afterward
furnish him with Russian troops against any of his enemies, in exchange
for his service in aiding me, or large sums of money, I should have
done whatever he pleased.  I would have given great presents to his
ministers and generals over and above.  In a word, I would have thought
nothing too much to have obtained my desire."

This confession, after it was brought to the Czar by Tolstoi, to whom
Alexis gave it, was sent by him to the great council of state, to aid
them in forming their opinion.

The council were occupied for the space of a week in hearing the case,
and then they drew up and signed their decision.

The statement which they made began by acknowledging that they had not
of themselves any original right to try such a question, the Czar
himself, according to the ancient constitution of the empire, having
sole and exclusive jurisdiction in all such affairs, without being
beholden to his subjects in regard to them in any manner whatever; but,
nevertheless, as the Czar had deemed it expedient to refer it to them,
they accepted the responsibility, and, after having fully investigated
the case, were now ready to pronounce judgment.

They then proceeded to declare that, after a full hearing and careful
consideration of all the evidence, both oral and written, which had
been laid before them, including the confessions of Alexis himself,
they found that he had been guilty of treason and rebellion against his
father and sovereign, and deserved to suffer death.

"And although," said the council, in continuation, "although, both
before and since his return to Russia, the Czar his father had promised
him pardon on certain conditions, yet those conditions were
particularly and expressly specified, especially the one which provided
that he should make a full and complete confession of all his designs,
and of the names of all the persons who had been privy to them or
concerned in the execution of them.  With these conditions, and
particularly the last, Alexis had not complied, but had returned
insincere and evasive answers to the questions which had been put to
him, and had concealed not only the names of a great many of the
principal persons that were involved in the conspiracy, but also the
most important designs and intentions of the conspirators, thus making
it appear that he had determined to reserve to himself an opportunity
hereafter, when a favorable occasion should present itself, of resuming
his designs and putting his wicked enterprise into execution against
his sovereign and father.  He thus had rendered himself unworthy of the
pardon which his father had promised him, and had forfeited all claim
to it."

The sentence of the council concluded in the following words:

"It is with hearts full of affliction and eyes streaming down with
tears that we, as subjects and servants, pronounce this sentence,
considering that, being such, it does not belong to us to enter into a
judgment of so great importance, and particularly to pronounce sentence
against the son of the most mighty and merciful Czar our lord.
However, since it has been his will that we should enter into judgment,
we herein declare our real opinion, and pronounce this condemnation,
with a conscience so pure and Christian that we think we can answer for
it at the terrible, just, and impartial judgment of the Great God.

"To conclude, we submit this sentence which we now give, and the
condemnation which we make, to the sovereign power and will, and to the
merciful review of his Czarian majesty, our most merciful monarch."

This document was signed in the most solemn manner by all the members
of the council, nearly one hundred in number.  Among the signatures are
the names of a great number of ministers of state, counselors,
senators, governors, generals, and other personages of high civil and
military rank.  The document, when thus formally authenticated, was
sent, with much solemn and imposing ceremony, to the Czar.

The Czar, after an interval of great suspense and solicitude, during
which he seems to have endured much mental suffering, confirmed the
judgment of the council, and a day was appointed on which Alexis was to
be arraigned, in order that sentence of death, in accordance with it,
might be solemnly pronounced upon him.

The day appointed was the 6th of July, nearly a fortnight after the
judgment of the court was rendered to the Czar.  The length of this
delay indicates a severe struggle in the mind of the Czar between his
pride and honor as a sovereign, feelings which prompted him to act in
the most determined and rigorous manner in punishing a rebel against
his government, and what still remained of his parental affection for
his son.  He knew well that after what had passed there could never be
any true and genuine reconciliation, and that, as long as his son
lived, his name would be the watchword of opposition and rebellion, and
his very existence would act as a potent and perpetual stimulus to the
treasonable designs which the foes of civilization and progress were
always disposed to form.  He finally, therefore, determined that the
sentence of death should at least be pronounced.  What his intention
was in respect to the actual execution of it can never be known.

When the appointed day arrived a grand session of the council was
convened, and Alexis was brought out from the fortress where he was
imprisoned, and arraigned before it for the last time.  He was attended
by a strong guard.  On being placed at the bar of the tribunal, he was
called upon to repeat the confessions which he had made, and then the
sentence of death, as it had been sent to the Czar, was read to him.
He was then taken back again to his prison as before.

Alexis was overwhelmed with terror and distress at finding himself thus
condemned; and the next morning intelligence was brought to the Czar
that, after suffering convulsions at intervals through the night, he
had fallen into an apoplectic fit.  About noon another message was
brought, saying that he had revived in some measure from the fit, yet
his vital powers seemed to be sinking away, and the physician thought
that his life was in great danger.

The Czar sent for the principal ministers of state to come to him, and
he waited with them in great anxiety and agitation for farther tidings.

At length a third messenger came, and said that it was thought that
Alexis could not possibly outlive the evening, and that he longed to
see his father.  The Czar immediately requested the ministers to
accompany him, and set out from his palace to go to the fortress where
Alexis was confined.  On entering the room where his dying son was
lying, he was greatly moved, and Alexis himself, bursting into tears,
folded his hands and began to entreat his father's forgiveness for his
sins against him.  He said that he had grievously and heinously
offended the majesty of God Almighty and of the Czar; that he hoped he
should not recover from his illness, for if he should recover he should
feel that he was unworthy to live.  But he begged and implored his
father, for God's sake, to take off the curse that he had pronounced
against him, to forgive him for all the heinous crimes which he had
committed, to bestow upon him his paternal blessing, and to cause
prayers to be put up for his soul.

While Alexis was speaking thus, the Czar himself, and all the ministers
and officers who had come with him, were melted in tears.  The Czar
replied kindly to him.  He referred, it is true, to the sins and crimes
of which Alexis had been guilty, but he gave him his forgiveness and
his blessing, and then took his leave with tears and lamentations which
rendered it impossible for him to speak, and in which all present
joined.  The scene was heart-rending.

[Illustration: The Czar's visit to Alexis in prison.]

At five o'clock in the evening a major of the Guards came across the
water from the fortress to the Czar's palace with a message that Alexis
was extremely desirous to see his father once more.  The Czar was at
first unwilling to comply with this request.  He could not bear, he
thought, to renew the pain of such an interview.  But his ministers
advised him to go.  They represented to him that it was hard to deny
such a request from his dying son, who was probably tormented by the
stings of a guilty conscience, and felt relieved and comforted when his
father was near.  So Peter consented to go.  But just as he was going
on board the boat which was to take him over to the fortress, another
messenger came saying that it was too late.  Alexis had expired.

On the next day after the death of his son, the Czar, in order to
anticipate and preclude the false rumors in respect to the case which
he knew that his enemies would endeavor to spread throughout the
Continent, caused a brief but full statement of his trial and
condemnation, and of the circumstances of his death, to be drawn up and
sent to all his ministers abroad, in order that they might communicate
the facts in an authentic form to the courts to which they were
respectfully accredited.[2]

The ninth day of July, the third day after the death of Alexis, was
appointed for the funeral.  The body was laid in a coffin covered with
black velvet.  A pall of rich gold tissue was spread over the coffin,
and in this way the body was conveyed to the church of the Holy
Trinity, where it was laid in state.  It remained in this condition
during the remainder of that day and all of the next, and also on the
third day until evening.  It was visited by vast crowds of people, who
were permitted to come up and kiss the hands of the deceased.

On the evening of the third day after the body was conveyed to the
church, the funeral service was performed, and the body was conveyed to
the tomb.  A large procession, headed by the Czar, the Czarina, and all
the chief nobility of the court, followed in the funeral train.  The
Czar and all the other mourners carried in their hands a small wax
taper burning.  The ladies were all dressed in black silks.  It was
said by those who were near enough in the procession to observe the
Czar that he went weeping all the way.

At the service in the church a funeral sermon was pronounced by the
priest from the very appropriate text, "O Absalom! my son! my son

Thus ended this dreadful tragedy.  The party who had been opposed to
the reforms and improvements of the Czar seems to have become
completely disorganized after the death of Alexis, and they never again
attempted to organize any resistance to Peter's plans.  Indeed, most of
the principal leaders had been executed or banished to Siberia.  As to
Ottokesa, the first wife of the Czar, and the mother of Alexis, who was
proved to have been privy to his designs, she was sent away to a strong
castle, and shut up for the rest of her days in a dungeon.  So close
was her confinement that even her food was put in to her through a hole
in the wall.

It remains only to say one word in conclusion in respect to Afrosinia.
When Alexis was first arrested, it was supposed that she, having been
the slave and companion of Alexis, was a party with him in his
treasonable designs; but in the course of the examinations it appeared
very fully that whatever of connection with the affair, or
participation in it, she may have had, was involuntary and innocent,
and the testimony which she gave was of great service in unraveling the
mystery of the whole transaction.  In the end, the Czar expressed his
satisfaction with her conduct in strong terms.  He gave her a full
pardon for the involuntary aid which she had rendered Alexis in
carrying out his plans.  He ordered every thing which had been taken
away from her to be restored, made her presents of handsome jewelry,
and said that if she would like to be married he would give her a
handsome portion out of the royal treasury.  But she promptly declined
this proposal.  "I have been compelled," she said, "to yield to one
man's will by force; henceforth no other shall ever come near my side."

[1] This incident shows to what a reckless and brutal state of
desperation Alexis had been reduced by the obstinacy of his opposition
to his father, and by the harshness of his father's treatment of him.
He confessed, on another occasion, that he had often taken medicine to
produce an apparent sickness, in order to have an excuse for not
attending to duties which his father required of him.

[2] There were, in fact, a great many rumors put in circulation, and
they spread very far, and were continued in circulation a long time.
One story was that Alexis was poisoned.  Another, that his father
killed him with his own hands in the prison.  It was said in London
that he beat him to death with an iron chain.  The extent to which
these and similar stories received currency indicates pretty clearly
what ideas prevailed in men's minds at that time in respect to the
savage ferocity of Peter's character.




Death of little Peter--Excessive grief of the Czar--The Czar shuts
himself up--Device of his minister--Subsequent reign--His plan for the
succession--Oath required of the people--Prince
Naraskin--Proclamation--Catharine's usefulness--Splendour of the
preparations--The interior of the church--The dais--The canopy--The
regalia--The ceremonies--Sickness and death of Peter--Natalia--The double
funeral--General character of Peter--Compared with other
sovereigns--Playful vein in his character--Examples--The Little
Grandfather--Taken to Cronstadt--Triumphal procession--Display before the
fleet--Closing festivities--Catharine proclaimed empress--Catharine's
brief reign--Her beneficent character

At the time of the death of Alexis the Czar's hopes in respect to a
successor fell upon his little son, Peter Petrowitz, the child of
Catharine, who was born about the time of the death of Alexis's wife,
when the difficulties between himself and Alexis were first beginning to
assume an alarming form.  This child was now about three years old, but
he was of a very weak and sickly constitution, and the Czar watched him
with fear and trembling.  His apprehensions proved to be well founded,
for about a year after the unhappy death of Alexis he also died.

Peter was entirely overwhelmed with grief at this new calamity.  He was
seized with the convulsions to which he was subject when under any strong
excitement, his face was distorted, and his neck was twisted and
stiffened in a most frightful manner.  In ordinary attacks of this kind
Catharine had power to soothe and allay the spasmodic action of the
muscles, and gradually release her husband from the terrible gripe of the
disease, but now he would not suffer her to come near him.  He could not
endure it, for the sight of her renewed so vividly the anguish that he
felt for the loss of their child, that it made the convulsions and the
suffering worse than before.

It is said that on this occasion Peter shut himself up alone for three
days and three nights in his own chamber, where he lay stretched on the
ground in anguish and agony, and would not allow any body to come in.  At
length one of his ministers of state came, and, speaking to him through
the door, appealed to him, in the most earnest manner, to come forth and
give them directions in respect to the affairs of the empire, which, he
said, urgently required his attention.  The minister had brought with him
a large number of senators to support and enforce his appeal.  At length
the Czar allowed the door to be opened, and the minister, with all the
senators, came together into the room.  The sudden appearance of so many
persons, and the boldness of the minister in taking this decided step,
made such an impression on the mind of the Czar as to divert his mind for
the moment from his grief, and he allowed himself to be led forth and to
be persuaded to take some food.

The death of Petrowitz took place in 1719, and the Czar continued to live
and reign himself after this period for about sixteen [Transcriber's
note: six? (Peter died in 1725)] years.  During all that time he went on
vigorously and successfully in completing the reforms which he had
undertaken in the internal condition of his empire, and increasing the
power and influence of his government among surrounding nations.  He had
no farther serious difficulty with the opponents of his policy, though he
was always under apprehensions that difficulties might arise after his
death.  He had the right, according to the ancient constitution of the
monarchy, to designate his own successor, choosing for this purpose
either one of his sons or any other person.  And now, since both his sons
were dead, his mind revolved anxiously the question what provision he
should make for the government of the empire after his decease.  He
finally concluded to leave it in the hands of Catharine herself, and, to
prepare the way for this, he resolved to cause her to be solemnly crowned
empress during his lifetime.

As a preliminary measure, however, before publicly announcing Catharine
as his intended successor, Peter required all the officers of the empire,
both civil and military, and all the nobles and other chief people of the
country, to subscribe a solemn declaration and oath that they
acknowledged the right of the Czar to appoint his successor, and that
after his death they would sustain and defend whomsoever he should name
as their emperor and sovereign.

This declaration, printed forms of which were sent all over the kingdom,
was signed by the people very readily.  No one, however, imagined that
Catharine would be the person on whom the Czar's choice would fall.  It
was generally supposed that a certain Prince Naraskin would be appointed
to the succession.  The Czar himself said nothing of his intention, but
waited until the time should arrive for carrying it into effect.

The first step to be taken in carrying the measure into effect was to
issue a grand proclamation announcing his design and explaining the
reasons for it.  In this proclamation Peter cited many instances from
history in which great sovereigns had raised their consorts to a seat on
the throne beside them, and then he recapitulated the great services
which Catharine had rendered to him and to the state, which made her
peculiarly deserving of such an honor.  She had been a tried and devoted
friend and counselor to him, he said, for many years.  She had shared his
labors and fatigues, had accompanied him on his journeys, and had even
repeatedly encountered all the discomforts and dangers of the camp in
following him in his military campaigns.  By so doing she had rendered
him the most essential service, and on one occasion she had been the
means of saving his whole army from destruction.  He therefore declared
his intention of joining her with himself in the supreme power, and to
celebrate this event by a solemn coronation.

The place where the coronation was to be performed was, of course, the
ancient city of Moscow, and commands were issued to all the great
dignitaries of Church and state, and invitations to all the foreign
embassadors, to repair to that city, and be ready on the appointed day to
take part in the ceremony.

It would be impossible to describe or to conceive, without witnessing it,
the gorgeousness and splendor of the spectacle which the coronation
afforded.  The scene of the principal ceremony was the Cathedral, which
was most magnificently decorated for the occasion.  The whole interior of
the building was illumined with an immense number of wax candles,
contained in chandeliers and branches of silver and gold, which were
suspended from the arches or attached to the walls.  The steps of the
altar, and all that part of the pavement of the church over which the
Czarina would have to walk in the performance of the ceremonies, were
covered with rich tapestry embroidered with gold, and the seats on which
the bishops and other ecclesiastical dignitaries were to sit were covered
with crimson cloth.

The ceremony of the coronation itself was to be performed on a dais, or
raised platform, which was set up in the middle of the church.  This
platform, with the steps leading to it, was carpeted with crimson velvet,
and it was surmounted by a splendid canopy made of silk, embroidered with
gold.  The canopy was ornamented, too, on every side with fringes,
ribbons, tufts, tassels, and gold lace, in the richest manner.  Under the
canopy was the double throne for the emperor and empress, and near it
seats for the royal princesses, all covered with crimson velvet trimmed
with gold.

When the appointed hour arrived the procession was formed at the royal
palace, and moved toward the Cathedral through a dense and compact mass
of spectators that every where thronged the way.  Every window was
filled, and the house-tops, wherever there was space for a footing, were
crowded.  There were troops of guards mounted on horseback and splendidly
caparisoned--there were bands of music, and heralds, and great officers
of state, bearing successively, on cushions ornamented with gold and
jewels, the imperial mantle, the globe, the sceptre, and the crown.  In
this way the royal party proceeded to the Cathedral, and there, after
going through a great many ceremonies, which, from the magnificence of
the dresses, of the banners, and the various regal emblems that were
displayed, was very gorgeous to behold, but which it would be tedious to
describe, the crown was placed upon Catharine's head, the moment being
signalized to all Moscow by the ringing of bells, the music of trumpets
and drums, and the firing of cannon.

The ceremonies were continued through two days by several other imposing
processions, and were closed on the night of the second day by a grand
banquet held in a spacious hall which was magnificently decorated for the
occasion.  And while the regal party within the hall were being served
with the richest viands from golden vessels, the populace without were
feasted by means of oxen roasted whole in the streets, and public
fountains made to run with exhaustless supplies of wine.

The coronation of Catharine as empress was not a mere empty ceremony.
There were connected with it formal legal arrangements for transferring
the supreme power into her hands on the death of the Czar.  Nor were
these arrangements made any too soon; for it was in less than a year
after that time that the Czar, in the midst of great ceremonies of
rejoicing, connected with the betrothal of one of his daughters, the
Princess Anna Petrowna, to a foreign duke, was attacked suddenly by a
very painful disease, and, after suffering great distress and anguish for
many days, he at length expired.  His death took place on the 28th of
January, 1725.

One of his daughters, the Princess Natalia Petrowna, the third of
Catharine's children, died a short time after her father, and the bodies
of both parent and child were interred together at the same funeral
ceremony, which was conducted with the utmost possible pomp and parade.
The obsequies were so protracted that it was more than six weeks from the
death of the Czar before the bodies were finally committed to the tomb;
and a volume might be filled with an account of the processions, the
ceremonies, the prayers, the chantings, the costumes, the plumes and
trappings of horses, the sledges decked in mourning, the requiems sung,
the salvos of artillery fired, and all the various other displays and
doings connected with the occasion.

Thus was brought to an end the earthly personal career of Peter the
Great.  He well deserves his title, for he was certainly one of the
greatest as well as one of the most extraordinary men that ever lived.
Himself half a savage, he undertook to civilize twenty millions of
people, and he pursued the work during his whole lifetime through
dangers, difficulties, and discouragements which it required a surprising
degree of determination and energy to surmount.  He differs from other
great military monarchs that have appeared from time to time in the
world's history, and by their exploits have secured for themselves the
title of The Great, in this, that, while they acquired their renown by
conquests gained over foreign nations, which, in most cases, after the
death of their conquerors, lapsed again into their original condition,
leaving no permanent results behind, the triumphs which Peter achieved
were the commencement of a work of internal improvement and reform which
is now, after the lapse of a century and a half since he commenced it,
still going on.  The work is, in fact, advancing at the present day with
perhaps greater and more successful progress than ever before.

Notwithstanding the stern severity of Peter's character, the terrible
violence of his passions, and the sort of savage grandeur which marked
all his great determinations and plans, there was a certain vein of
playfulness running through his mind; and, when he was in a jocose or
merry humor, no one could be more jocose and merry than he.  The interest
which he took in the use of tools, and in working with his own hands at
various handicrafts--his notion of entering the army as a drummer, the
navy as a midshipman, and rising gravely, by regular promotion in both
services, through all the grades--the way in which he often amused
himself, when on his travels, in going about in disguise among all sorts
of people, and a thousand other circumstances which are related of him by
historians, are indications of what might be called a sort of boyish
spirit, which strongly marked his character, and was seen continually
coming out into action during the whole course of his life.

It was only two years before his death that a striking instance of this
occurred.  The first vessel that was built in Russia was a small skiff,
which was planned and built almost entirely by Peter's own hands.  This
skiff was built at Moscow, where it remained for twenty or thirty years,
an object all this time, in Peter's mind, of special affection and
regard.  At length, when the naval power of the empire was firmly
established, Peter conceived the idea of removing this skiff from Moscow
to Petersburg, and consecrating it solemnly there as a sort of souvenir
to be preserved forever in commemoration of the small beginnings from
which all the naval greatness of the empire had sprung.  The name which
he had given to the skiff was The Little Grandfather, the name denoting
that the little craft, frail and insignificant as it was, was the parent
and progenitor of all the great frigates and ships of the line which were
then at anchor in the Roads about Cronstadt and off the mouth of the Neva.

A grand ceremony was accordingly arranged for the "consecration of the
Little Grandfather."  The little vessel was brought in triumph from
Moscow to Petersburg, where it was put on board a sort of barge or
galliot to be taken to Cronstadt.  All the great officers of state and
all the foreign ministers were invited to be present at the consecration.
The company embarked on board yachts provided for them, and went down the
river following the Little Grandfather, which was borne on its galliot in
the van--drums beating, trumpets sounding, and banners waving all the way.

The next day the whole fleet, which had been collected in the bay for
this purpose, was arranged in the form of an amphitheatre.  The Little
Grandfather was let down from his galliot into the water.  The emperor
went on board of it.  He was accompanied by the admirals and vice
admirals of the fleet, who were to serve as crew.  The admiral stationed
himself at the helm to steer, and the vice admirals took the oars.  These
grand officials were not required, however, to do much hard work at
rowing, for there were two shallops provided, manned by strong men, to
tow the skiff.  In this way the skiff rowed to and fro over the sea, and
then passed along the fleet, saluted every where by the shouts of the
crews upon the yards and in the rigging, and by the guns of the ships.
Three thousand guns were discharged by the ships in these salvos in honor
of their humble progenitor.  The Little Grandfather returned the salutes
of the guns with great spirit by means of three small swivels which had
been placed on board.

The Empress Catharine saw the show from an elevation on the shore, where
she sat with the ladies of her court in a pavilion or tent which had been
erected for the purpose.

At the close of the ceremonies the skiff was deposited with great
ceremony in the place which had been prepared to receive it in the Castle
of Cronstadt, and there, when one more day had been spent in banquetings
and rejoicings, the company left the Little Grandfather to his repose,
and returned in their yachts to the town.

Not many days after the death of Peter, Catharine, in accordance with the
arrangements that Peter had previously made, was proclaimed empress by a
solemn act of the senate and ministers of state, and she at once entered
upon the exercise of the sovereign power.  She signalized her accession
by a great many acts of clemency--liberating prisoners, recalling exiles,
removing bodies from gibbets and wheels, and heads from poles, and
delivering them to friends for burial, remitting the sentence of death
pronounced upon political offenders, and otherwise mitigating and
assuaging sufferings which Peter's remorseless ideas of justice and
retribution had caused.  Catharine did not, however, live long to
exercise her beneficial power.  She died suddenly about two years after
her husband, and was buried with great pomp in a grand monumental tomb in
one of the churches of St. Petersburg, which she had been engaged ever
since his death in constructing for him.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Peter the Great" ***

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Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.