L. Mühlbach.

The Daughter of an Empress online

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Produced by Dagny and John Bickers


By Louise Muhlbach


Countess Natalie Dolgorucki
Count Munnich
Count Ostermann
The Night of the Conspiracy
Hopes Deceived
The Regent Anna Leopoldowna
The Favorite
No Love
Princess Elizabeth
A Conspiracy
The Warning
The Court Ball
The Pencil-Sketch
The Revolution
The Sleep of Innocence
The Recompensing
The Palace of the Empress
Eleonore Lapuschkin
A Wedding
Scenes and Portraits
Princes also must die
The Charmed Garden
The Letters
Diplomatic Quarrels
The Fish Feud
Pope Ganganelli (Clement XIV.)
The Pope's Recreation Hour
A Death-Sentence
The Festival of Cardinal Bernis
The Improvisatrice
The Departure
An Honest Betrayer
Alexis Orloff
The Holy Chafferers
"Sic transit gloria mundi"
The Vapo
The Invasion
The Dooming Letter
The Russian Officer
The Warning
The Russian Fleet



"No, Natalie, weep no more! Quick, dry your tears. Let not my
executioner see that we can feel pain or weep for sorrow!"

Drying her tears, she attempted a smile, but it was an unnatural,
painful smile.

"Ivan," said she, "we will forget, forget all, excepting that we love
each other, and thus only can I become cheerful. And tell me, Ivan, have
I not always been in good spirits? Have not these long eight years in
Siberia passed away like a pleasant summer day? Have not our hearts
remained warm, and has not our love continued undisturbed by the
inclement Siberian cold? You may, therefore, well see that I have the
courage to bear all that can be borne. But you, my beloved, you my
husband, to see you die, without being able to save you, without being
permitted to die with you, is a cruel and unnatural sacrifice! Ivan, let
me weep; let your murderer see that I yet have tears. Oh, my God, I have
no longer any pride, I am nothing but a poor heart-broken woman! Your
widow, I weep over the yet living corpse of my husband!" With convulsive
sobs the trembling young wife fell upon her knees and with frantic grief
clung to her husband's feet.

Count Ivan Dolgorucki no long felt the ability to stand aloof from her
sorrow. He bent down to his wife, raised her in his arms, and with her
he wept for his youth, his lost life, the vanishing happiness of his
love, and the shame of his fatherhood.

"I should joyfully go to my death, were it for the benefit of my
country," said he. "But to fall a sacrifice to a cabal, to the jealousy
of an insidious, knavish favorite, is what makes the death-hour fearful.
Ah, I die for naught, I die that Munnich, Ostermann, and Biron may
remain securely in power. It is horrible thus to die!"

Natalie's eyes flashed with a fanatic glow. "You die," said she, "and
I shall live, will live, to see how God will avenge you upon these
evil-doers. I will live, that I may constantly think of you, and in
every hour of the day address to God my prayers for vengeance and

"Live and pray for our fatherland!" said Ivan.

"No," she angrily cried, "rather let God's curse rest upon this Russia,
which delivers over its noblest men to the executioner, and raises its
ignoblest women to the throne. No blessing for Russia, which is cursed
in all generations and for all time - no blessing for Russia, whose
bloodthirsty czarina permits the slaughter of the noble Ivan and his

"Ah," said Ivan, "how beautiful you are now - how flash your eyes, and
how radiantly glow your cheeks! Would that my executioner were now
come, that he might see in you the heroine, Natalie, and not the
sorrow-stricken woman!"

"Ah, your prayer is granted; hear you not the rattling of the bolts, the
roll of the drum? They are coming, Ivan, they are coming!"

"Farewell, Natalie - farewell, forever!"

And, mutually embracing, they took one last, long kiss, but wept not.

"Hear me, Natalie! when they bind me upon the wheel, weep not. Be
resolute, my wife, and pray that their torments may not render me weak,
and that no cry may escape my lips!"

"I will pray, Ivan."

In half an hour all was over. The noble and virtuous Count Ivan
Dolgorucki had been broken upon the wheel, and three of his brothers
beheaded, and for what? - Because Count Munnich, fearing that the noble
and respected brothers Dolgorucki might dispossess him of his usurped
power, had persuaded the Czarina Anna that they were plotting her
overthrow for the purpose of raising Katharina Ivanovna to the imperial
throne. No proof or conviction was required; Munnich had said it, and
that sufficed; the Dolgoruckis were annihilated!

But Natalie Dolgorucki still lived, and from the bloody scene of her
husband's execution she repaired to Kiew. There would she live in the
cloister of the Penitents, preserving the memory of the being she loved,
and imploring the vengeance of Heaven upon his murderers!

It was in the twilight of a clear summer night when Natalie reached the
cloister in which she was on the next day to take the vows and exchange
her ordinary dress for the robe of hair-cloth and the nun's veil.

Foaming rushed the Dnieper within its steep banks, hissing broke the
waves upon the gigantic boulders, and in the air was heard the sound as
of howling thunder and a roaring storm.

"I will take my leave of nature and of the world," murmured Natalie,
motioning her attendants to remain at a distance, and with firm feet
climbing the steep rocky bank of the rushing Dnieper. Upon their knees
her servants prayed below, glancing up to the rock upon which they saw
the tall form of their mistress in the moonlight, which surrounded it
with a halo; the stars laid a radiant crown upon her pure brow, and her
locks, floating in the wind, resembled wings; to her servants she seemed
an angel borne upon air and light and love upward to her heavenly home!
Natalie stood there tranquil and tearless. The thoughtful glances of her
large eyes swept over the whole surrounding region. She took leave
of the world, of the trees and flowers, of the heavens and the earth.
Below, at her feet, lay the cloister, and Natalie, stretching forth her
arms toward it, exclaimed: "That is my grave! Happy, blessed Ivan, thou
diedst ere being coffined; but I shall be coffined while yet alive! I
stand here by thy tomb, mine Ivan. They have bedded thy noble form in
the cold waves of the Dnieper, whose rushing and roaring was thy funeral
knell, mine Ivan! I shall dwell by thy grave, and in the deathlike
stillness of my cell shall hear the tones of the solemn hymn with which
the impetuous stream will rock thee to thine eternal rest! Receive,
then, ye sacred waves of the Dnieper, receive thou, mine Ivan, in thy
cold grave, thy wife's vow of fidelity to thee. Again will I espouse
thee - in life as in death, am I thine!"

And drawing from her finger the wedding-ring which her beloved husband
had once placed upon it, she threw it into the foaming waves.

Bending down, she saw the ring sinking in the waters and murmured: "I
greet thee, Ivan, I greet thee! Take my ring - forever am I thine!"

Then, rising proudly up, and stretching forth her arms toward heaven,
she exclaimed aloud: "I now go to pray that God may send thee vengeance.
Woe to Russia, woe!" and the stream with its boisterous waves howled and
thundered after her the words: "Woe to Russia, woe!"


The Empress Anna was dead, and - an unheard-of case in Russian imperial
history - she had even died a natural death. Again was the Russian
imperial throne vacated! Who is there to mount it? whom has the empress
named as her successor? No one dared to speak of it; the question was
read in all eyes, but no lips ventured to open for the utterance of
an answer, as every conjecture, every expression, if unfounded and
unfulfilled, would be construed into the crime of high-treason as soon
as another than the one thus indicated should be called to the throne!

Who will obtain that throne? So asked each man in his heart. The
courtiers and great men of the realm asked it with shuddering and
despair. For, to whom should they now go to pay their homage and thus
recommend themselves to favor in advance? Should they go to Biron, the
Duke of Courland? Was it not possible that the dying empress had chosen
him, her warmly-beloved favorite, her darling minion, as her successor
to the throne of all the Russias? But how if she had not done so? If,
instead, she had chosen her niece, the wife of Prince Anton Ulrich, of
Brunswick, as her successor? Or was it not also possible that she had
declared the Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of Czar Peter the Great,
as empress? The latter, indeed, had the greatest, the most incontestable
right to the imperial throne of Russia; was she not the sole lawful heir
of her father? How, if one therefore went to her and congratulated her
as empress? But if one should make a mistake, how then?

The courtiers, as before said, shuddered and hesitated, and, in order
to avoid making a mistake, did nothing at all. They remained in their
palaces, ostensibly giving themselves up to deep mourning for the
decease of the beloved czarina, whom every one of them secretly hated so
long as she was yet alive.

There were but a few who were not in uncertainty respecting the
immediate future, and conspicuous among that few was Field-Marshal Count

While all hesitated and wavered in anxious doubt, Munnich alone was
calm. He knew what was coming, because he had had a hand in shaping the

"Oh," said he, while walking his room with folded arms, "we have at
length attained the object of our wishes, and this bright emblem for
which I have so long striven will now finally become mine. I shall be
the ruler of this land, and in the unrestricted exercise of royal power
I shall behold these millions of venal slaves grovelling at my feet,
and whimpering for a glance or a smile. Ah, how sweet is this governing

"But," he then continued, with a darkened brow, "what is the good of
being the ruler if I cannot bear the name of ruler? - what is it to
govern, if another is to be publicly recognized as regent and receive
homage as such? The kernel of this glory will be mine, but the shell, - I
also languish for the shell. But no, this is not the time for such
thoughts, now, when the circumstances demand a cheerful mien and every
outward indication of satisfaction! My time will also come, and, when
it comes, the shell as well as the kernel shall be mine! But this is the
hour for waiting upon the Duke of Courland! I shall be the first to wish
him joy, and shall at the same time remind him that he has given me his
ducal word that he will grant the first request I shall make to him as
regent. Well, well, I will ask now, that I may hereafter command."

The field-marshal ordered his carriage and proceeded to the palace of
the Duke of Courland.

A deathlike stillness prevailed in the streets through which he rode. On
every hand were to be seen only curtained windows and closed palaces;
it seemed as if this usually so brilliant and noisy quarter of St.
Petersburg had suddenly become deserted and desolate. The usual
equipages, with their gold and silver-laced attendants, were nowhere to
be seen.

The count's carriage thundered through the deserted streets, but
wherever he passed curious faces were seen peeping from the curtained
windows of the palaces; all doors were hastily opened behind him, and he
was followed by the runners of the counts and princes, charged with the
duty of espying his movements.

Count Munnich saw all that, and smiled.

"I have now given them the signal," said he, "and this servile Russian
nobility will rush hither, like fawning hounds, to bow before a new idol
and pay it their venal homage."

The carriage now stopped before the palace of the Duke of Courland, and
with an humble and reverential mien Munnich ascended the stairs to the
brilliant apartments of Biron.

He found the duke alone; absorbed in thought, he was standing at the
window looking down into streets which were henceforth to be subjected
to his sway.

"Your highness is surveying your realm," said Munnich, with a smile.
"Wait but a little, and you will soon see all the great nobility
flocking here to pay you homage. My carriage stops before your door, and
these sharp-scenting hounds now know which way to turn with their abject

"Ah," sadly responded Biron, "I dread the coming hour. I have a
misfortune-prophesying heart, and this night, in a dream, I saw myself
in a miserable hut, covered with beggarly rags, shivering with cold and
fainting with hunger!"

"That dream indicated prosperity and happiness, your highness,"
laughingly responded Munnich, "for dreams are always interpreted by
contraries. You saw yourself as a beggar because you were to become
our ruler - because a purple mantle will this day be placed upon your

"Blood also is purple," gloomily remarked the duke, "and a sharp poniard
may also convert a beggar's blouse into a purple mantle! Oh, my friend,
would that I had never become what I am! One sleeps ill when one must
constantly watch his happiness lest it escape him. And think of it, my
fortunes are dependent upon the eyes of a child, a nurseling, that with
its mother's milk imbibes hatred to me, and whose first use of speech
will be, perhaps, to curse me!"

"Then it must be your task to teach the young emperor Ivan to speak,"
exclaimed Munnich - "in that case he will learn to bless you."

"I shall not be able to snatch him from his parents," said Biron. "But
those parents certainly hate me, and indeed very naturally, as they, it
seems, were, next to me, designated as the guardians of their son Ivan.
The Duchess Anna Leopoldowna of Brunswick is ambitious."

"Bah! for the present she is in love," exclaimed Munnich, with a laugh,
"and women, when in love, think of nothing but their love. But only
look, your highness, did I not prophesy correctly? Only see the numerous
equipages now stopping before your door! The street will soon be too
narrow to contain them."

And in the street below was really to be seen the rapid arrival of
a great number of the most splendid equipages, from which alighted
beautiful and richly-dressed women, whose male companions were covered
with orders, and who were all hastening into the palace. There was a
pressing and pushing which produced the greatest possible confusion.
Every one wished to be the first to congratulate the new ruler, and to
assure him of their unbounded devotion.

The duke's halls were soon filled with Russian magnates, and when at
length the duke himself made his appearance among them, he everywhere
saw only happy, beaming faces, and encountered only glances of love and
admiration. The warmest wishes of all these hundreds seemed to have
been fulfilled, and Biron was precisely the man whom all had desired for
their emperor.

And, standing in the centre of these halls, they read to Biron the
testament of the deceased Empress Anna: that testament designated Ivan,
the son of the Duchess Anna Leopoldowna and Prince Ulrich of Brunswick,
as emperor, and him, Duke Biron of Courland, as absolute regent of the
empire during the minority of the emperor, who had now just reached the
age of seven months. The joy of the magnates was indescribable; they
sank into each other's arms with tears of joy. At this moment old
enemies were reconciled; women who had long nourished a mutual hatred,
now tenderly pressed each other's hands; tears of joy were trembling
in eyes which had never before been known to weep; friendly smiles were
seen on lips which had usually been curled with anger; and every one
extolled with ecstasy the happiness of Russia, and humbly bowed before
the new sun now rising over that blessed realm.

With the utmost enthusiasm they all took the oath of fidelity to the new
ruler, and then hastened to the palace of the Prince of Brunswick, there
with the humblest subjection to kiss the delicate little hand of the
child-emperor Ivan.

Munnich was again alone with the duke, who, forgetting all his
ill-boding dreams, now gave himself up to the proud feeling of his
greatness and power.

"Let them all go," said he, "these magnates, to kiss the hand of this
emperor of seven months, and wallow in the dust before the cradle of a
whimpering nurseling! I shall nevertheless be the real emperor, and both
sceptre and crown will remain in my hands!"

"But in your greatness and splendor you will not forget your faithful
and devoted friends," said Munnich; "your highness will remember that it
was I who chiefly induced the empress to name you as regent during the
minority of Ivan, and that you gave me your word of honor that you would
grant me the first request I should make to you."

"I know, I know," said Biron, with a sly smile, thoughtfully pacing the
room with his hands behind his back. But, suddenly stopping, he remained
standing before Munnich, and, looking him sharply in the eye, said:
"Shall I for once interpret your thoughts, Field-Marshal Count Munnich?
Shall I for once tell you why you used all your influence to decide the
Empress Anna to name me for the regency? Ah, you had a sharp eye, a sure
glance, and consequently discovered that Anna had long since resolved
in her heart to name me for the regency, before you undertook to confirm
her in this resolve by your sage counsels. But you said to yourself:
'This good empress loves the Duke of Courland; hence she will
undoubtedly desire to render him great and happy in spite of all
opposition, and if I aid in this by my advice I shall bind both parties
to myself; the empress, by appearing to be devoted to her favorite,
and the favorite, by aiding him in the accomplishment of his ambitious
plans. I shall therefore secure my own position, both for the present
and future!' Confess to me, field-marshal, that these were your thoughts
and calculations."

"The regent, Sir Duke of Courland, has a great knowledge of human
nature, and hence I dare not contradict him," said Munnich, with a
constrained laugh. "Your highness therefore recognizes the service
that I, from whatever motive, have rendered you, and hence you will not
refuse to grant my request."

"Let me hear it," said the duke, stretching himself out on a divan,
and negligently playing with a portrait of the Empress Anna, splendidly
ornamented with brilliants, and suspended from his neck by a heavy gold

"Name me generalissimo of all the troops," said Munnich, with solemnity.

"Of all the troops?" asked Biron. "Including those on the water, or only
those on land?"

"The troops on the water as well as those on land."

"Ah, that means, I am to give you unlimited power, and thus place you
at the head of all affairs!" Then, suddenly rising from his reclining
position, and striding directly to Munnich, the duke threateningly said:
"In my first observation I forgot to interpret a few of your thoughts
and plans. I will now tell you why you wished for my appointment as
regent. You desired it for the advancement of your own ambitious plans.
You knew Biron as an effeminate, yielding, pleasure-seeking favorite of
the empress - you saw him devoted only to amusement and enjoyment, and
you said to yourself: 'That is the man I need. As I cannot myself be
made regent, let it be him! I will govern through him; and while this
voluptuous devotee of pleasure gives himself up to the intoxication of
enjoyments, I will rule in his stead.' Well, Mr. Field-Marshal, were not
those your thoughts!"

Munnich had turned very pale while the duke was thus speaking, and a
sombre inquietude was depicted on his features.

"I know not," he stammered, with embarrassment.

"But _I_ know!" thundered the duke, "and in your terror-struck face I
read the confirmation of what I have said. Look in the glass, sir count,
and you will make no further attempt at denial."

"But the question here is not about what I might have once thought, but
of what you promised me. Your highness, I have made my first request!
It is for you to grant it. I implore your on the strength of your ducal
word to name me as the generalissimo of your troops!"

"No, never!" exclaimed the duke.

"You gave me your word!"

"I gave it as Duke of Courland! The regent is not bound by the promise
of the duke."

"I made you regent!"

"And I do _not_ make you generalissimo!"

"You forfeit your word of honor?"

"No, ask something else, and I will grant it. But this is not feasible.
I must myself be the generalissimo of my own troops, or I should no
longer be the ruler! Ask, therefore, for something else."

Munnich was silent. His features indicated a frightful commotion, and
his bosom heaved violently.

"I have nothing further to ask," said he, after a pause.

"But, I will confer upon you a favor without your asking it!" proudly
responded the duke. "Count Munnich, I confirm you in your offices and
dignities, and, to prove to you my unlimited confidence, you shall
continue to be what you were under the Empress Anna, field-marshal in
the Russian army!"

"I thank you, sir duke," calmly replied Munnich. "It is very noble in
you that you do not send me into banishment for my presumptuous demand."

Clasping the offered hand of the duke, he respectfully pressed it to his

"And now go, to kiss the hand of the young emperor, that you may not be
accused of disrespect," smilingly added Biron; "one must always preserve

Munnich silently bowed, while walking backward toward the door.

"We part as friends?" asked the duke, nodding an adieu.

"As friends for life and death!" said Munnich, with a smile.

But no sooner had the door closed behind him than the smile vanished
from his features, and was replaced by an expression of furious rage.
He threateningly shook his fist toward the door which separated him from
the duke, and with convulsively compressed lips and grating teeth he
said: "Yes, we now part as friends, but we shall yet meet as enemies! I
shall remember this hour, sir duke, and shall do my best to prevent your
forgetting it. Ah, you have not sent me to Siberia, but I will send you
there! And now to the Emperor Ivan. I shall there meet his parents, the
shamefully-slighted Ulrich of Brunswick, and his wife Anna Leopoldowna.
I think they will welcome me."

With a firm step, rage and vengeance in his heart, but outwardly smiling
and submissive, Field-Marshal Count Munnich betook himself to the palace
of the Duke of Brunswick to kiss the hand of the cradled Emperor Ivan.


Four weeks had passed since Biron, Duke of Courland, had commenced his
rule over Russia, as regent, in the name of the infant Emperor Ivan. The
Russian people had with indifference submitted to this new ruler, and
manifested the same subjection to him as to his predecessor. It was all
the same to them whoever sat in godlike splendor upon the magnificent
imperial throne - what care that mass of degraded slaves, who are
crawling in the dust, for the name by which their tyrants are called?
They remain what they are, slaves; and the one upon the throne remains
what he is, their absolute lord and tyrant, who has the right to-day to
scourge them with whips, to-morrow to make them barons and counts, and
perhaps the next day to send them to Siberia, or subject them to the
infliction of the fatal knout. Whoever proclaims himself emperor or
dictator, is greeted by the Russian people, that horde of creeping
slaves, as their lord and master, the supreme disposer of life and
death, while they crawl in the dust at his feet.

They had sworn allegiance to the Regent Biron, as they had to the
Empress Anna; they threw themselves upon the earth when they met him,
they humbly bared their heads when passing his palace; and when the
magnates of the realm, the princes and counts of Russia, in their
proud equipages, discovered the regent's carriage in the distance, they
ordered a halt, descended from their vehicles, and bowed themselves to
the ground before their passing lord. In Russia, all distinctions of
rank cease in the presence of the ruler; there is but one lord, and one
trembling slave, be he prince or beggar, and that lord must be obeyed,
whether he commands a murder or any other crime. The word and will of
the emperor purify and sanctify every act, blessing it and making it

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