« הקודםהמשך »
which brought on the spasms to which and gnarls in a noble tree, than serious he was subject, the Czar entered his twists in the grain of his being. Severe, tent, ordering that no one should in- doubtless, he was ; but his severity was trude. Catharine dared to disobey, and seldom the outburst of mere passion, allearned from him the hopeless condition most invariably the means to an end, of his army. Without consulting any- that end being the redemption of Russia one, she despatched an ambassador to from chaos, and the establishment of the the Grand Vizier to make overtures of reign of law. Justice tempered by peace, loading him with gifts. Her own severity is often a blessing to a commujewels and trinkets she tore off her body, nity that is little better than a social and and went the round of the camp, collect- political wild ; and the wisdom and not ing all the valuables she could find, for the severity of the measures employed to which she gave receipts, signed by her regenerate his country is what we should own hand, and a promissory note paya- chiefly look to in the case of Peter the ble on her return to Moscow. She also Great, who had a half-civilised nation to ordered preparations and bustling as for discipline and make law-respecting and another and more serious effort to break law-abiding. Seldom, especially in his the Turkish lines, and even led the Rus- riper years, was a delinquent punished sian army within a hundred paces of the without trial before a competent tribuTurkish front, before the Grand Vizier nal; and if Peter interfered with the consented to a truce, preliminary to a sentences of the courts, which he seldom treaty of peace. The Czar never forgot did, it was always to mitigate and not to his Catharine's heroism. He instituted aggravate the punishment. Once, when a new order of Knighthood, which he he was thought dying, it was suggested called the Order of St. Catharine ; and to him that he should release all the struck a medal bearing her image, encir- criminals in prison. Why,' said he, cled by precious stones, with the motto 'will God more readily forgive my sins ' For Love and Fidelity 'engraven upon because I have flooded Russia with its it. And here is the manifesto he issued locked-up rascaldom?' The frequent when he decreed her his successor on rebellions against his government, fothe throne. After reciting the dangers mented often by his own relations, were to which he had been exposed during his suppressed with a relentless hand, and twenty years' wars, he continues :—*The the ringleaders were brought to vigorous Empress Catharine, our dearest consort, justice ; but what autocrat would have: was an important help to us in all these respected the forms of law as he did. dangers in which she voluntarily accom- when his choice was either to destroy his. panied us, serving us with all her coun- enemies or be destroyed by them ? and sel, notwithstanding the natural weakness was it not an additional aggravation that of her sex : more particularly at the bat- these revolts always broke out while he tle of Pruth, where our army was re- was away laboring and toiling for the duced to 22,000 men, while the Turks good of Russia, learning ship-building were 220,000 strong. It was in these in Holland, repelling the inroads of the desperate circumstances above all others Turks or Swedes, or fighting to give his that she signalised her zeal, by a cour- country a seaboard ? He signed the deage superior to her sex, as is well known cree for the execution of his eldest son ; to the whole army throughout the Em- and although the crimes of the latter pire. For these reasons, and in virtue would not be visited by such punishment of that power which God has given us, now, there was nothing arbitrary or selfwe are resolved to honor our spouse with willed about the Czar's conduct in the the Imperial Crown in acknowledgment business. Indeed, his previous expostuof all her services and fatigues.'
lations, warnings, pleadings with his The disposition of Peter is generally perverse and prodigal son are almost represented to have been vicious and heartrending. You see in him an.agocruel. It is usual to depict him as a nising wrestle between love of Russia lawless despot who ordered heads to be and love of his child ; and had Peter only lopped off in cold blood when the ca- lived two thousand years earlier and price seized him. His defects, however, been a Roman consul, we should have seem rather to have been outside knots lauded his patriotism, his stoic virtue,
his readiness to inflict the keenest suffer- plied, 'the brave Swedish commanders.' ing on himself, when his country's weal Then,' asked his colloquist, ‘has not required it. But he was only a half-civ- your Majesty been somewhat ungrateful ilised Tartar savage, and his nature was in dealing so hardly with your teachers ?' torn with conflicting emotions ; and he The Czar was so pleased with the reply, had not the philosophic and unruffled re- that he unbuckled his own sword and pose of speech and manner and feeling presented it to the general, requesting that makes a Lucius Junius Brutus so that he would wear it in token of his esgrand and admirable, and which to the teem for his valor and fidelity to his present writer seems simply hateful. I sovereign. Revenge and every other will back this headstrong, illiterate, and Roman virtue would have prompted him noisy barbarian against any Roman of to a different course. In an earlier them all for the truest and most loveable stage of this contest Charles had stormed humanity. What fate would Hannibal or seized Dresden, the capital of Saxohave met at the hands of Rome had he ny, to which kingdom Peter's ambassabeen captured ? What doom did she dor, Patkul, had been attested. Him decree to those who dared to defend Charles kept in chains for three months, their homes and hearths against her con- and finally, to quote what he calls his quering armies ? Dragged them at her own'merciful' decree, ‘broke upon the chariot wheels, or threw them to the wheel and quartered, for the reparation lions, or made them butcher each other of his crimes and as a warning to others.' in the Amphitheatre, 'to make a Roman The Czar was highly incensed ; but inholiday.' That they were noble and stead of following the advice of his minwise, and honored in their own land, only isters to retaliate on the Swedish officers, added zest and flavor to the sport. It he administered a severe rebuke to them was not thus that Peter treated the he- for suggesting that he should stain his roes he had conquered.
He gave a
name with such an infamous crime. grand entertainment in honor of the With all his blood-thirstiness and irasciSwedish Admiral Ehrenschild, who had bleness of temper, Peter was far above been taken prisoner of war. After the petty feelings of revenge. dinner he rose and said, 'Gentlemen, The Czar cared little for outward you see here a brave and faithful servant pomp, believing that true greatness did of his master, who has made himself not need to assert itself or pose in fine worthy of the highest honor at his hands, apparel or ostentatious magnificence. and who shall always have my favor He dodged the receptions which his while he is with me, though he has killed brother sovereigns got up in his honor, me many a brave man. I forgive you,' and spoke of them as unutterably childhe added, turning with a smile to the ish and tiresome. Once at least he acSwede, you may always depend on companied an ambassador to a foreign my good-will.' Ehrenschild, thanking Court in the character of a private genthe Czar, replied, However honorably tleman attached to the embassy, and I may have acted with regard to my took humble lodgings to disarm susp:master, I did no more than my duty. Í cion that he was other than he professed sought death, but failed to meet it; and to be. There was a fibre of fine and beauit is no small comfort to me in my mis- tiful simplicity in his character. While he fortune to be a prisoner of your Majesty, was toiling as a shipwright at Zaandam, and to be treated with so much distinc- where he spent nine months learning his tion by such a mighty captain.' After trade, he dressed like his fellow-workthe battle of Pultowa, too, when he men, in a round hat, white linen jacket broke the power of Charles XII., he dis- and trousers, and joined in their banter played equal magnanimity towards the and heavy Dutch chaff as well as his officers whom the fate of war had forced pretty considerable knowledge of the to yield up their swords. In the course language would permit. While acting of the banquet he gave in honor of them, as a workman he let himself be spoken Peter pledged a bumper ' to his tutors in to and treated as one. He would take the art of war.' One of the Swedish a heavy barrow from the hands of a generals asked to whom he referred. feebler shopmate and hurl the load to its Yourselves, gentlemen,' the Czar re- destination. Many a knotty mechanic
thumb did he bandage and dress, for he and which he carried to the palace in his was proud of his surgical skill. He had vest pocket wrapped in a piece of fusty self-control enough to treat with all de- old brown paper. Once, while he was sirable deference and respect the fore- in Berlin, Frederick William sent a magmen in the several yards in which he la- nificent chariot drawn by richly caparibored, bound himself to adhere to the soned horses to drive him to the palace. regulations in force, and requested to be Peter, seeing it arrive, went out of the enrolled in the books and addressed by back door of his lodgings and walked to the name of Peter Zimmerman. The the Court, instructing the gentlemen of Duke of Marlborough, in search of his suite to follow in the carriage. amusement, entered the shipbuilding Thanking and apologising to the King, yard one day, and asked the foreman to the Czar said he was not accustomed to point out the Czar without making them such splendor, and often walked five known to each other. 'Peter Zimmer- times as much at a stretch. Nothing man,' cried the master to His Majesty, pleased him better than to receive his "why don't you help those men toiling old shopmates at St. Petersburg, and be with that big log ?' Peter at once ran to addressed by them in the old familiar the assistance of his sweating and over names,'Peter Zimmerman, Peter Baas, or tasked 'chums,' never suspecting that even Skipper Peter.
even Skipper Peter. And that he saw he was being trotted out for exhibition. through the folly of such speeches as that His simplicity of character seems to be he delivered to William is clear from the belied by the following speech he ad- following. Shortly after the battle of dressed to William III., who was then in Pultowa he visited Holland again. The Holland : 'Most renowned Emperor! it municipalities arranged to give him a was not the desire of seeing the celestial splendid reception. William's Dutch cities of the German Empire or the most Earl, Albemarle, then on a visit to the powerful Republic of the Universe that States, was deputed to bid the Czar welmade me leave my throne and my victo
This he did in a speech which rious armies to come into a distant vied for exaggeration with Peter's own to country ; it was solely the ardent desire the Earl's master. 'I thank you heartiof paying my respects to the most brave ly,' said the Czar in reply, though I and generous hero of the day, &c.' The don't understand much of what you say. speech is so ridiculous, bombastic, for- I learnt my Dutch among shipbuilders, eign to Peter's nature, that it must have but the sort of language you have spoken been written for him, or composed by I am sure I never learnt.' On the him under the inspiration of that vanity same visit he requested the shipbuilders to which lads just getting out of their and workmen not to call him 'Majesty.' teens are specially prone. Never fear,' 'Come, brothers,' said he, let us talk he once said while out at sea in a like plain honest shipwrights ;' and then, storm, and the sailors were getting summoning a servant who was filling the alarmed ; 'the Czar Peter cannot be glasses out of a beer jug, he laughingly drowned ; did you ever hear of a Rus- demanded the 'can,' and having got it, sian Czar perishing on the waters ?' said, “I can now drink as much as I Such hours of self-consciousness occur like, and nobody can tell what I have in the lives of all youths of talent, but taken.' do not all give tone or color to their He attended surgical classes in Holriper character. During the four land. Indeed, he dabbled in all the months he spent in England, William sciences and mechanical arts, but was learned to appreciate the worth of the specially proud of his attainments as a Czar in spite of his rough, uncouth surgeon. He gloried in drawing a ways and silly speeches and grotesque tooth, bleeding a patient, tapping for manners. Could anything denote less dropsy, or lopping off a limb; and on self-consciousness than this? The his return to Russia started a limited King's servants often laughed at him to practice. His own valet once availed his face, yet he left 120 guineas to be himself of Peter's weakness as a vehicle distributed among them. He presented of revenge on his wife for her unfaithto the monarch a rough ruby which the fulness, a misdemeanor towards which Amsterdam jewellers valued at 10,000l., Peter was very tolerant. Noticing the
flunkey with a sad countenance, the Czar sion on him, for many years afterwards, asked the matter. Nothing, sire, but when at Friedrickstadt, in Holstein, he my wife has a toothache and won't let inquired if there was any Quaker meetthe tooth be drawn.' 'Let me see her,
“Let me see her,' ing in the place. As there happened to said Peter, ‘and I warrant you I'll cure be one, he ordered his suite to accomher.' The poor woman insisted she had pany him, though they were quite ignono toothache. Sire,' said the valet, rant of the language. The Czar kept up she always says that when I bring the a running interpretation as the service doctor.' Hold her arm then,' said proceeded, and afterwards thanked the His Majesty, and we'll relieve her suf- preacher, saying, that whoever could fering.' Peter seized the tooth which live up to his doctrine would be happy.' the woman's husband pointed to as the On his second visit to a town in Holbad one and smartly whirled it out. land, he and the burgomaster of the The Czar afterwards discovered that he place attended divine service, when an had been tricked, and the poor woman unconscious action of the Czar almost made to suffer unnecessarily, and he upset the gravity of the congregation. . gave the valet a knouting with his own Peter feeling his head growing cold royal hands.
turned to the heavily wigged chief magHe had a strong dislike to be stared istrate at his side and transferred the at, and hated all kinds of fêtes and cere- wig, the hair of which flowed down over monies, unless he could mingle in the the great-little man's shoulders, to his common crowd. "Too many folks, too own head, and sat so till the end of the many folks,' he would say, when asked service, when he returned it to the into take a part in any pageant.
sulted burgomaster, bowing his thanks. A barber at Amsterdam, who had seen The great man's fury was not appeased a description and portrait of him, was till one of Peter's suite assured him that the first to pierce Peter's incognito, and it was no practical joke at all that His confided the secret to each of his custom- Majesty had played, that his usual cusers, who thereupon went about publish- tom when at church, if his head was ing it. Crowds at once gathered round cold, was to seize the nearest wig he his dwelling, and Peter sulked in his could clutch. Peter was tolerant toroom for days. He was specially an- wards all religious opinions, and whernoyed by the curiosity of the English, ever he was, attended church without who forced themselves into his room asking after its special ism. The first while he was eating, and gazed at him building he erected in St. Petersburg was with the celebrated stony British stare, a citadel; the second, a church. as if he were a plenomenon. An amus- There are
some stories told about ing account is given in the Life of Peter that do honor to his heart and Thomas Story of an interview two disposition. On his arrival at Zaandam Quakers cunningly effected with him. his first care was to search out and beThey endeavored to persuade him to friend the widow of a skipper of the adopt Quaker principles, and presented name of Munsch, who had given him his him with several treatises on the subject first lesson in seamanship at Archangel, for private study. The good-natured representing himself to be a fellow-workCzar promised to attend their meeting, man of her late husband. In the retwhere it is said he conducted himself inue that accompanied the embassy to with great decorum. He wanted to see Holland there was a dwarf, who was Parliament without being seen, ' in order Peter's faithful attendant at all festivito which,' Lord Dartmouth says, 'he ties. One day there was no room in the was placed in a gutter upon the house- carriage for this manikin, and it was top, to peep in at the window, where he suggested that he should travel in made so ridiculous a figure that neither another. * By no means,' said the Czar, king nor people could forbear laughing, and took the pigmy on his knee. The which obliged him to retire sooner than delight with which his old shipmates rehe intended.'
ceived him on his second visit to HolContact with the world brushed this land may be easily imagined. As he shyness wholly off him. The Quaker landed, a thousand stentorian lungs cried interview must have made some impres- out Welcome, Peter Baas !' while to his surprise a gushing old lady rushed passed himself through a regular curricforward to embrace him. My good ulum as a sailor, and never gave himlady,' said His Majesty, “how do you self a higher commission till he had know who I am ?' Your Majesty,' she earned it. He started as the ship's replied, 'often sat down and shared our drudge, was then promoted to be cook's humble meals nineteen years ago. I am menial, whose work was to light the fire, the wife of Baas Pool.' The Czar in- wash the dishes, and make himself genstantly returned her salute, kissed her erally useful ; next he became cabin-boy on the forehead, and invited himself to and waited at table ; and it was a proud dine again with her that very day. moment in his life when he attained the
Peter's highest ambition was to make high position of a sailor before the mast, Russia a great maritime power. He and in smooth waters was permitted to used to say, what Russia is practically handle the helm. He fought as a capsaying still alike in Europe and in Asia, tain of Bombardiers in a naval fight with that it was not land that he wanted but the Swedes, and was awarded the order sea. Not only did he spend a year of of St. Andrew for his gallant conduct ; his life learning shipbuilding, but to and after the glorious action at which popularise the service he even toiled as Admiral Ehrenschild was taken prisoner, a common sailor. To foster the love of he was summoned by the Vice-Czar Roa seafaring life he had a garden laid out manofsky, by his name of Rear-Admiral in an island near St. Petersburg, on Peter, to take his seat beside the throne, which he built a palace. He presented and in recognition of his daring and sucboats to the nobility, that they might be cess was promoted to the office of Viceable to visit him, on the condition that Admiral of Russia, amid cries of 'Long each should keep his vessel in order and live the Vice-Admiral !' He left Russia, provide another when it was done. He which he got without a ship, with a fleet encouraged them to vie with each other of 41 vessels ready for service, carrying in regatta competitions. The Muscovite 2,106 guns, manned by 15,000 seamen, priests taught that it was a crime to leave besides a number of frigates and galleys. Russia and travel in the land of the infi- Peter died in the arms of his Cathadel, yet the Czar, in his zeal for the de- rine on January 28, 1725, some say poivelopment of Russia, braved their reli- soned by her ; but that seems not believgious fury and prejudice. He ordered able. His body lay in state in the palthe nobility to go abroad and acquire, ace till the day of interment, March 21. not only the manners of foreign Courts In the interval between his death and and countries, but their arts and scien- burial his third daughter departed this ces, especially naval architecture. A life, and the obsequies of father and story is told of one who returned from child were celebrated together amid the Venice as ignorant as he went. What tears of a sorrowing nation, for the peothe deuce have you been learning ?' said ple had begun to see the genuine worth the Czar. 'Sire, I smoked my pipe, and virtue of their monarch through his drank my brandy, and rarely stirred out rough outside coating. No memory is of my room.' More amused than en- more fondly cherished in Russia than raged, Peter suggested that the lord Peter's. Everything that can remind should be made one of his Court fools the nation of him is carefully treasured on the spot. He had the bitterest op- in her museums ; his hat, sword, dogs, position and prejudice to contend with horse, even his old clothes, and the in his efforts to make Russia respected wooden hut he erected with his own and great. In his search for a sea-bor- hands while supervising St. Petersburg der, he extended his dominion to the sea as it rose above the waters-all are of Azoph, the Caspian Sea, and the Gulf sacred. He loved Russia with a kingly of Finland.
love, and sacrificed his son rather than Amsterdam was the model he had in that an unqualified and worthless monhis mind while planning St. Petersburg. arch should preside over its destinies. He had a nervous dread of the sea to 'I would rather,' said he, 'commit my overcome in his youth, and this he did people to an entire stranger who was by spending all his spare time on the worthy of such a trust than to my own river that flows through Moscow. He undeserving offspring.' It is not the