Archibald Alison.

History of Europe from the fall of Napoleon in MDCCCXV to the accession of Louis Napoleon in MDCCCLI (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryArchibald AlisonHistory of Europe from the fall of Napoleon in MDCCCXV to the accession of Louis Napoleon in MDCCCLI (Volume 1) → online text (page 80 of 127)
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have passed the Rubicon," said Alexander Bes-
toujif, " and now we must cut down all who
oppose us." "You see," said Ryleif, "we are
betrayed ; the court is partly aware of our de-
signs, but they do not know the whole. Our
forces are sufiicient; our scabbards are broken;
we can no longer conceal our sabres. Have we
not an admirable chief in Troubetzkoi ?" " Yes,"
answered Jakoubovitch, "in height" — alluding
to his lofty stature. At length all .schnitzier
agreed upon an insurrection on the j. 213, aie;'
day when the oath should be tend- Ann. Hist,
ered to the troops.' '■''• ^^^< ^^^

On the morning of the 26th, the oath was
taken without difficulty in several of 123
the first regiments of the guards, es- commence-
pecially the horse-guards, the che- "lent oi" it.
valier guards, and the famous regi- ^^'

ments Preobrazinsk}-, Simoneffsky, Imailoffskj',
Pauloffsky, and the chasseurs of the guard. But
the case was very diil'erent with the regiment
of Moscow, the grenadiers of the body-guard,
and t)»e marines of the guard. They were for
the most part at the devotion of the conspira-
tors. Tlie troops were informed that Constan-
tine had not resigned, but was in irons, as well
as the (Jrand Duke Michael ; that he loved their
regiments, and, if reinstated in autlioi-ity, would
double their pa}'. [Such was tiie ellect of these
representations, enforced as they were by the
ardent military eloquence of the many gifted
and generous young men who were engaged in
tiie conspiracy from patriotic motives,* that
the men tumultuously broke their ranks, and,
with loud hurraiiH, " (."oiistantine for ever!"

* Alcxanilcr Ucstoiijif, brothrr of Michael Hcstoiijif, one
of llu; IcailiTH of tin; revolt, addrt'SHcd the followinn prayer
to the Aliiiijihty, as he rose on tlie eventful day : "Oh
God 1 if our eriteriiriHe \» ju»t, vouchHafe to us thy sup-
I)ort ; if not, thy will tic done to uh." It ia dillicult to
know whether to admire the oourage and sincerity of the
rnen who brave/l such dangcrH, as they conceived, for
their country's Rood, or to lament the hlindness and in-
fatuation which led th.Mu to strive to obtain for it institu-
tions wholly unsuited for the people, and which could
terminate in nothing hut temporary anarchy and lasting
military despotism — SuiiNirzLEn, i. 2'21, note



[Chap. VIII.

rushed into their bnrrncks for (ininuinition, from
wlu'iioi" they iiiinuHliately retiiriiwl with their
iiuiskots Uuided with bull. They were jiis-t eoiii-
ini; out when an aid-do-i'unip arrived with or-
ders for the oflieers to repair forthwith to tlie
head-quarters of tiie general (Frederiek) and the
Grand Duke Miehael. " 1 do not aeknowledgc
the authority of your general," cried Prince
Tflieehipine," who eoniniuuded one of the re-
volted eonipanics, and immediately he ordered
the soldiers to load their pieces. At the same
instant Alexander Pestoiijif discharged a pistol
at General Frederick himself, who was eonung
up, and wounded him on the head. lie fell in-
sensible on the pavement, while Tchechipine
attacked General Chenchine, who commanded
the brigade of the guard, of which the regiment
of Moscow formed a part, and stretched him on
the ground by repeated blows of his sabre. In
a transport of enthusiasm at this success, he
with his own hand snatched the standard of the
regiment from the officer who bore it, and, wav-
ing it in the air, exclaimed aloud, " Constantine
forever !" The soldiers loudly answered with
the same acclamation, and immediately the
greater part of the regiments, disregarding the
voice of their superior officei's. Colonel Adles-
berg and Count Lieven, who held out for JSich-
olas, moved in a body forward from the front of
their barracks, and took up a position on the
Grand Place behind the statue of I'eter the
Great. There they were soon joined by a bat-
talion of the marines of the guard, who had been
roused in a similar manner by Lieutenant Ai'-
bouzoff, and by several companies of the grena-
diers of the body-guard. By ten o'clock, eigh-
teen hundred men were drawn up in battle ar-
ray on the Place of the Senate, behind the statue,
surrovmded by a great crowd of civilians, most
of whom were armed with pistols or
i ^222"'223'^' sabres ; and the air resounded with
' ' cries of "Constantine forever!"'
The die was now cast, and the danger was so
imminent, that, if there had been the
Heroic con- slightest indecision at head-quarters,
duct of the insurrection would have proved
Nicholas successful, and Russia have been de-
livered over to the horrors of mili-
tary license and servile revolt. But
in that extremity Nicholas was not awanting to
himself; he won the empire by proving he was
worthy of it. He could no longer reckon on
his guards, and without their support a Russian
emperor is as weak as with it he is powerful.
At eleven he received intelligence that the oath
had been taken by the principal officers in the
garrison, and it was hoped the danger was over ;
but in a quarter of an hour news of a very dif-
ferent import arrived — that an entire regiment
of horse-artillery had been confined to their
barracks, to prevent their joining the insur-
gents, and that a formidable body of the guards
in open revolt were drawn up on the Place of
the Senate. He instantly took his resolution,
and in a spirit worthy of his race. Taking the
empress, in whom the spirit, if not the blood,
of Frederick the Great still dwelt, by the hand,
he repaired to the chapel of the palace, where,
with her, he invoked the blessing of the Most
High on their undertaking. Then, after ad-
dressing a few words of encouragement to his
weeping but still courageous consort, he took

on the 00-

his eldest son, a charming child of eight years
of age, by the hand, and descended to the chief
body of the yet faithful guards, stationed in
front of the palace, and gave orders to them to
load their jiieces. Then presenting the young
tirand Duke to the soldiers, he said, "I trust
him to you ; yours it is to defend him." The
chasseurs of Finland, with loud acclamations,
swore to die in his cause ; and the child, terri-
fied at their cheers, was passed in their arms
from rank to rank, amidst the tears of the men.
They put him, while still weeping, into the cen-
tre of their column, and such was the entliusi-
asm excited that they refused to give him back
to his preceptor, Colonel Moerder, who came to
reclaim him.'* " God knows our in- ischnitzlcr
tention," said they; "we will restore j. 224, 225 ;'
the child only to his father, who in- Ann. Hist,
trusted him to us." '^- ^^''' ^'^S-

Meanwhile Nicholas put himself at the head
of the first battalion of the regiment
Preobrazinsky, which turned out Nicholas
with unheard-of rapidity, and ad- advances
vanced toward the rebels, supported aga'nst the
by the third battalion, several com-
panies of the grenadiers of Pauloffsky, and a
battalion of the sappers of the guard. On the
way he met a column proceeding to the ren-
dezvous of the rebels. Advancing to them with
an intrepid air, he called out in a loud voice,
"Good-morning, my children!" — the usual sal-
utation of patriarchal simplicity of the emper-
ors to their troops. "Hourra, Constantine!"
was the answer. Without exhibiting any symp-
toms of fear, the emperor, pointing with his
finger to the other end of the Place, where the
insurgents were assembled, said, "You have
mistaken your way ; your place is there with
traitors." Another detachment following them,
to which the same salute was addressed, re-
mained silent. Seizing the moment of hesita-
tion, with admirable presence of mind, he gave
the order, " Wheel to the right — ^niarch I" with
a loud voice. The instinct of discipline pre-
vailed, and the men turned about and retraced
their steps, as if they liad never „ „ . . ,
deviated from their allegiance to j 22:"228!'^'
their sovereign.^

The rebels, however, reinforced by several
companies and detachments of some regiments
which successively joined them, were by one

* What a scene for poetry or painting I — realizing on
a still greater theatre all that the genius of Homer had
prefigured of the parting of Hector and Andromache :
" Thus having spoke, the illustrious chief of Troy
Clasped liis fond arms to clasp the lovely boy ,
The babe clung crying to his nurse's breast.
Scared at the nodding plume and dazzling crest.
With secret pleasure each fond parent smiled.
And Hector hastened to relieve his child ;
The glittering terrors from his brow unbound.
And placed the beaming helmet on the ground ;
Then kissed the child, and, lifting high in air,
Thus to the gods preferred a father's prayer :
O Thou ! whose glory fills the ethereal throne,
And all ye deathless powers, protect my son !
Grant him, like me, to purchase just renown,
To guard the Trojans, to defend the crown ;
Against his country's foes the war to wage,
And rise the Hector of the future age.
So, when triumphant from successful toils,
Of heroes slain, he bears the reeking spoils.
Whole hosts may hail him with deserved acclaim.
And say this chief transcends his father's fame ;
While, pleased amidst the general shouts of Troy,
His mother's conscious heart o'ertlows with joy."

Pope's Iliad, vi. 595, 610-




n'flock in the afternoon above three thousand
J26 strong, and incessant cries of " Ilour-
Forces on ra, Constantine!" broke from their
iiotii sides, ranks. The ground was covered with
lutfon oT"" snow, some of which had recently
the chiefs fallen; but nothing could damp the
of the re- ardor of the men, who remained in
^'^"' close array, cheering, and evincing

tlie greatest enthusiasm. Loud cries of " Long

Online LibraryArchibald AlisonHistory of Europe from the fall of Napoleon in MDCCCXV to the accession of Louis Napoleon in MDCCCLI (Volume 1) → online text (page 80 of 127)