Samuel M. (Samuel Mosheim) Smucker.

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crime.

Nicholas, however, commuted these penalties to
others of a less severe character. The five persons
condemned to be quartered were hung, and the
other penalties were mitigated in proportion. On
the 25th of July, 1826, the execution of the five pre-
eminent felons took place on the glacis of the for-
tress of St. Petersburg. Their swords were first
broken over their heads; their epaulettes and mili-
tary decorations were thrown into the fire ; gibbets
instead of crosses were erected over their graves,
and over the graves of the officers who had been
killed during the revolt on the 26th.

The new czar, however, displayed his benevo-



84 THE LIFE AND KEIGN

lence by giving pensions and presents to the rela-
tives of the executed criminals. To the father of
Pestel he gave fifty thousand rubles. He promoted
his brother to the post of aid-de-camp in his service.
He lavished wealth on Rostoftsof, who had first
given information respecting the conspiracy. He
sent his condolence to the widow of Byle'ieff. Her
reply was : " The only favour I ask of the emperor
is to share the fate of my husband."

The rope with which Muravief and Byle'ieff were
hung broke, and they fell to the ground. Mura-
vief exclaimed, "In this cursed country they don't
even know how to hang a man !" Ryle'ieff replied,
"Decidedly nothing succeeds with me; not even
hanging." Such was the courageous indifference
displayed by some of the conspirators, to their hor-
rible fate.

One of the first acts of Nicholas, after the sup-
pression of the conspiracy, was to publish a mani-
festo, and appoint his cabinet officers.

In this manifesto he congratulated his subjects
on the fortunate suppression of the revolt, and the
re-establishment of peace and security. He pro-
mised that the seeds of disaffection should be rooted
out of the "sacred soil of Russia." He declared
that there was a difference and vast interval be-
tween a rational desire for improvement, and the



OF NICHOLAS THE FIRST. 85

fury of radicalism. The one he would promote;
the other he would extirpate. He expressed his
undiminished confidence in the unchanging fidelity
and loyalty of the Russian nation.

In the selection of his cabinet ministers, Nicholas
displayed great wisdom and discretion. He ap-
pointed the celebrated Count Nesselrode to the im-
portant office of Minister of Foreign Affairs. His
family was Westphalian in its origin. He was him-
self born on board an English ship in the port of
Lisbon, and he had entered the Russian service.
Hence it was that Pope Gregory XVI. said wittily
respecting him, that he represented in his person
the Quadruple Alliance. Nesselrode was pliant in
his disposition, but possessed profound diplomatic
skill, great craft and sagacity, and was a match
for Metternich and Fouche, even, in their most in-
tricate intrigues. He was also intimately acquainted
with the state of all the European countries. He
had long been in the service of the Russian czars,
and was familiar with all the traditions of the de-
partment of foreign affairs. He had possessed the
confidence of Alexander, under whose reign, he
was at the head of the department termed the
" College of the Empire."

General Tatischtcheff was appointed Minister of
War. This 'officer was able, upright, and laborious :



86 THE LIFE AND REIGN

qualities of rare and sterling value. He had some
slight tendency toward reform in the government ;
but it was not so decided as to render him objec-
tionable to the emperor.

To the department of Finance Count Cancrine
was designated, as being the most skilful financier
in the Russian dominions. He was a German by
birth; an officer of the old school, laborious, pro-
foundly learned, and exceedingly accurate, and pos-
sessing at the same time the highest reputation for
unflinching integrity. He was the opposite of Ta~
tischtcheff in political sentiment, and was a supl-
porter of absolutism to its fullest extent. He has
been since termed, very justly, "the Colbert of
Russia." He displayed his ability in the vast im-
provement which he soon introduced, into the dis-
ordered and exhausted finances of Russia. He re-
tired from office in 1844, and died one year after-
ward. He published an able work after his retire-
ment, which will endure as a monument of his
vast financial genius.*

The emperor appointed Vice- Admiral Moller as
Minister of the Marine Department. Privy Coun-
cillor Lausko'i retained the Ministry of the Interior.
The department of Public Instruction was filled

* Die (Ekonomie der Menschlichen Gesellschaften, (The Economy
of Human Societies,) Stuttgardt, 1845.



OF NICHOLAS THE FIRST. 87

by M. Chischkoff, with whom M. Perofski was asso-
ciated, both of them profoundly learned men.
The appanages of the imperial household were
committed to the care of Count Gowriefi^ formerly
Minister of Finance. The vast domains of the
crown, and the interests of the serfs, were after-
ward intrusted to the direction of Count Paul
Kisseleff, the former governor of Moldavia and
"Wallachia.

In addition to the appointment of these great
officers of state, several minor promotions of in-
terest were made. General Orloff, whose services
at a critical moment in the midst of the revolt of
the 25th of December, in bringing his regiment
so quickly into line, in front of the insurgents, in
the Great Square of St. Isaac's, the importance of
which Nicholas duly appreciated, was promoted to
the office of Minister of Police. The cordon rouge
of the Order of St. Alexander IsTewski was con-
ferred on General Buckendorff, Count Kemme-
rofski, Zarefski, and Baron de Toll, all of whom
rendered important services to the czar, on the
memorable day of the revolt.

In Poland, the most important province of the
Russian crown, all the staff and royal guards sta-
tioned in "Warsaw swore allegiance to the new czar
on the 2d of January, 1826, in the presence of the



88 THE LIFE AND REIGN

Grand Duke Constantino himself. The same day
the same oath was taken by all the ministers and
councils of the administration, by the Polish Se-
nate, by the council of state, by the municipal au-
thorities, and by all the commissioners and func-
tionaries of government.

On the 7th of January Constantine addressed
from Warsaw a letter to Mcholas, in which the
following sentiments occur. " Sire, I have received
with the most lively satisfaction the edict by which
your imperial majesty has deigned to acquaint me
of your happy accession to the throne of your an-
cestors of our beloved Russia. The supreme law
of the empire is the will of the sovereign whom Provi-
dence grants to us. In accomplishing this will, your
imperial majesty has accomplished the will of the
King of kings, who, in events of importance, evi-
dently inspires the monarchs of the earth. If I
have in any degree co-operated toward the accom-
plishment of the decrees of Providence, I have only
fulfilled my duty as a faithful subject, as a devoted
brother the duty, in short, of a Russian who is proud
of the happiness of obeying God and his sovereign."
During the progress of these events in the north,
an insurrection which had been organized by Pes-
tel and Sergius Mourovieff in the southern army
of Russia broke forth. This army was under the



OP NICHOLAS THE FIRST. 89

command of Prince Wittgenstein, and was sta-
tioned on the Pruth. This revolt was easily sup-
pressed by the energy and resolution of Lieuten-
ants Roth and Geisman, on its first outburst, on
the 15th of January, 1826. Immediately afterward,
the whole army of the south, consisting of 120,000
men, took the oath of allegiance to Nicholas I.
This branch of the revolt against the regular suc-
cession to the throne was more badly managed,
and displayed even more lamentable cowardice and
indecision, than that which had occurred in St.
Petersburg.



8*



90 THE LIFE AND REIGN



CHAPTER Yin.

VAST MAGNITUDE OF THE EMPIRE INHERITED BY NICHOLAS I. PER-
SONAL APPEARANCE OF NICHOLAS AT THE PERIOD OF HIS ACCESSION
HIS INTELLECTUAL QUALITIES GEOGRAPHICAL LIMITS OF HIS EM-
PIRE HIS MILITARY RESOURCES HIS NAVAL FORCES THE EFFEC-
TIVENESS OF THE POLICE OF RUSSIA REVENUES OF THE EMPIRE

ATTACHMENT OF THE GREEK CHURCH TO THE CZARS NICHOLAS BE-
COMES THE GREAT REPRESENTATIVE OF ABSOLUTISM IN THE NINE-
TEENTH CENTURY.

AMONG the many memorable instances recorded
in history, in which youthful sovereigns have as-
cended to the possession of brilliant thrones, we
know of none which equals, in eveiy element of
personal splendour, political grandeur, and prospec-
tive glory, that of the accession of Nicholas I.

The empire to which Charles V. fell heir in the
sixteenth century was small in extent, and insigni-
ficant in resources, compared with that of the Rus-
sian czar; though at a later period, when elected
Emperor of Germany, he obtained a vast addition
to his jurisdiction, which still left him the inferior
of the Russian potentate.

Napoleon I., when his head was first graced by
the iron crown of Lombardy, possessed a power



OF NICHOLAS THE FIRST. 91

which was, in every sense, most transient and in-
secure ; and which bore in its own bosom, the seeds
and the presage of its inevitable dissolution.

The present Queen of England, the prolific Vic-
toria, is a mere puppet in the hands of her minis-
ters and parliaments ; and does not actually possess
as much real power as the President of the United
States. Francis Joseph, the youthful representa-
tive of the ancient house of Hapsburg, is known
to be an intellectual weakling, who fears to exer-
cise authority which he might possess, and who uni-
formly defers to the wiser judgment of his mother,
his cabinet, and his confessor. He is the mere
representative of a despotic power, which is secretly
usurped by other and more able hands.

It was not thus with the youthful Czar of Rus-
sia who, in 1825, ascended the throne of the Mus-
covite kings. In his case, there were circumstances
of superiority and splendour which rendered his
position an unequalled one, even in the long cata-
logue of mighty and illustrious sovereigns. Let
us glance for a moment at the constituent ele-
ments, of the transcendent power and glory of
Nicholas I.

In his person and intellect, nature had fitted him
to rule over his fellow-men, by the undeniable claim
of superior physical and intellectual gifts. The Mar-



92 THE LIFE AND REIGN

quis de Custine enthusiastically describes him as a
god, as one intended to sway the sceptre of do-
minion over commonplace mortals; and as one of
those rare instances in which a man of great talents,
had fortunately reached the very place for which
nature had pre-eminently fitted him. That Nicholas
possessed a great intellect, either of a military, po-
litical, or literary character, may well be doubted.
But that he was gifted with a clear, sagacious judg-
ment, with dauntless resolution, with unwavering
perseverance, and a well-balanced mind, none will
deny who are familiar with his history. He tho-
roughly understood all the details of his duties. He
knew every thing that it became so great a sove-
reign to know. The machinery of government,
though not its philosophy, he clearly comprehended.
And he delighted in the exercise of all his preroga-
tives and functions. It was, in a word, the great
aim and end, as well as the highest gratification, of
his existence, to act, to speak, and to think, as be-
came a monarch ruling over the greatest empire in
the world.

To prove that such were the dimensions of the
dominion of Nicholas, let us glance at the details of
its geographical limits. Without exaggeration, it
was the largest in the world. Russia in Europe ex-
tends from the Gulf of Bothnia and the White Sea



OF NICHOLAS THE FIRST. 93

on the north, to the Sea of Azoff and the Black Sea
on the south ; being about fifteen hundred miles in a
straight line from its northern to its southern limits.
It extends from the Ural Mountains and the Volga
on the east, to Posen and Silesia on the west; being
twelve lumdred miles from the one boundary to the
other. It comprises fifty-four different governments,
each having their capital cities and separate juris-
diction, subject only to the central government at
St. Petersburg. It comprises one-half of the terri-
tory of the Continent of Europe ; and it is thickly
populated throughout nearly its whole extent.

But the dominion of the czars does not terminate
here. Russia in Asia extends from the Ural Moun-
tains, the boundary between Europe and Asia, to
Kamskatka, the most eastern country of Asia ; and
sweeping across the whole of the northern half of
the latter continent, for twenty-five hundred miles,
comprises a territory equal in extent to the whole of
China. Thus the mandate of Nicholas, seated on
his despotic throne at St. Petersburg, was obeyed
with the most obsequious submission, from east to
west, throughout a continuous area of four thousand
miles ! His subjects were sixty-five millions in num-
ber. His jurisdiction extended actually over one-
seventh of the whole surface of the habitable globe !

The military resources of the czar were equally



94 THE LIFE AND REIGN

great. The active army of Russia consists of two
hundred and eighty-eight battalions, containing one
thousand men each. The army of reserve on the
peace establishment consisted of seventy-two thou-
sand men. Thus, under ordinary circumstances,

*
when Russia was not engaged in active hostilities

with a foreign nation, her standing army contained
about five hundred thousand men; for in addition
to the numbers just named, there must be added one
hundred and forty-six regiments of Cossacks, num-
bering one hundred and twenty thousand. When
the present war against Turkey was proclaimed,
Nicholas ordered an additional levy of three hundred
thousand men; thus making the whole military
force of the empire, including the naval arm of the
service, amount to one million of men, at the com-
mencement of the present struggle in the East.
With this prodigious force at his command, it is not
singular that the haughty czar indulged the belief,
that he had but to stretch forth his hand and grasp
the sceptre and the crown of Constantinople with
facility.

The efficiency of the military force of the czar is
evinced by the fact, that his soldiers are the picked
men of Europe and of Asia. Cameron, an English
writer who witnessed a grand review of the army,
describes the men as presenting a formidable ap-



OP NICHOLAS THE FIRST. 95

pearance. There were powerfully built cuirassiers,
sinewy Hulans, light and active hussars, gigantic
grenadiers, agile riflemen, mail-clad Circassians,
and barbarous-looking Cossacks ; all, combined to-
gether, forming an army of unequalled power and
effectiveness.

The naval force of Russia is also one of great
strength. It musters, in time of peace, fifty-five
ships of the line and thirty heavy frigates, which are
manned by fifty thousand seamen. This force is
divided into two great squadrons the Baltic fleet,
and the Black Sea fleet. It is commanded by sixty-
three admirals, seventy-two captains of the first rank,
and eighty of the second.

While the czar commands this prodigious force to
assist in the external security of his dominions, his
police establishment is the largest, the most power-
ful, and the most adroit, in the world.

In Eussia, the police establishment is divided into
two separate sections. The first is the political or
high police. To this we, in republican America,
have fortunately no counterpart. The second di-
vision is the civil or municipal police.

Superintended by the minister of police at St.
Petersburg, the high police forms one of the most
extraordinary institutions which the mind can con-
ceive. Its agents are innumerable, and their num-



J'O THE LIFE AND REIGX

bers are expressly kept concealed. The} 7 are to be
found actively employed not only throughout Russia,
but even throughout Europe. It would be perfectly
useless for the subjects of the czar to attempt to re-
lease themselves from the surveillance of this secret
power in any quarter of the globe. Their eyes are
open, their ears are attentive, their scrutiny is close
and severe, in every land ; and they continually de-
spatch, to the great centre of their association at St.
Petersburg, narrations of all that they see and hear
and know. A Russian traveller who has visited, for
purposes of pleasure, business, or instruction, remote
quarters of the globe, is astounded on returning to
St. Petersburg to find a report of all his conduct
during his absence there before him. These politi-
cal police dress in various ways, and assume different
disguises ; and are even sometimes seen as bare-
legged ballet-dancers in the theatres of the great
cities of Western Europe. "I have with my own
eyes," says a French writer, "in February, 1848,
seen one of their well-known agents going all over
Paris, with an enormous trace of red wool at his
button-hole, in an attire which the most disorderly
conspirator would have commended." Often the
imprudent Russian has been tempted, when in the
arms of some fair and frail nymph, to give utterance
to his political heresies ; and together with his gifts



OF NICHOLAS THE FIRST. 97

of gold and jewels, to impart his political discontents
so his fascinating charmer. The next thing he
'mows is, that he is betrayed by her as an agent of
ihe secret political police.

The omnipresent and permeating power of this
police is only equalled by that of the municipal
police ; though its influence is necessarily confined
to the limits of the Russian dominions. The
municipal police carry to extremes, the vigilance
and perfidy which usually mark that branch of
the government. While professing only to detect
crimes, it pries into every domestic secret; and
there is not a family in all Russia, whose most
hidden arcana are not known, inspected, and scru-
tinized by the innumerable agents of the muni-
cipal police ; and, if thought to be of the slightest
importance, are immediately and secretly reported
at St. Petersburg.

It was another element of the greatness of the
power inherited by Nicholas, that his dominions
were then free from the horrors of war, as entailed
on his predecessor by the amazing ambition of Na-
poleon. His vast territories, at the period of his
accession, enjoyed the great blessings attendant
upon a profound peace with all the world. The
struggles through which the Russian nation had
just passed with the French adventurer, had trained



98 THE LIFE AND BEIGN

them to the science of war ; but it had also taught
them to appreciate the inestimable blessings of
peace; and, for ten years, they had carefully and
industriously husbanded all their resources, and
enjoyed, in consequence, an unusual share of com-
mercial prosperity. The financial condition of the
vast empire of Nicholas was a favourable one. The
revenues of the state, at the period of his accession,
were far greater than they had ever been at any
previous period.

In the reign of Peter the Great the revenue of
the Russian government was 60,000,000 rubles.*
In 1770, under Catherine II., the revenue was
150,000,000 rubles. Under Alexander L, it was
200,000,000. Under Nicholas L, the revenue
amounted to 500,000,000. Before the present war
in the East began, the Russian public debt was
320,000,000 rubles; and the surplus in the trea-
sury, over the annual expenditures of the govern-
ment, promised soon to wipe away that incum-
brance, which had been entailed by the wars of
Napoleon. Thus not only was the bankruptcy of
the empire an impossible thing ; but the czar could
regard himself and his dominions as being in a
state, of unusual financial prosperity.

* A ruble is about sixty cents of our currency.



OF NICHOLAS THE FIRST. 99

In addition to all these elements of strength it
is necessary to add, that Nicholas possessed the
support of the Greek Church, and the hierarchy in
all their various grades. The ecclesiastics of Rus-
sia are dependent for their incomes directly upon
the throne. From the great archimandrid of St.
Petersburg down to the lowest sub-deacon and
sacristan, all derive their salaries from the govern-
ment. This, of. course, makes them the obse-
quious servants of the crown, and especially where
the sovereign took special measures as did Nicho-
las to proclaim to the world that he was a faith-
ful son of the Holy Orthodox Greek Church; the
enthusiastic support tendered him by the hierarchy
became an engine of immense power. The priest-
hood naturally exercised vast influence over an
ignorant and bigoted populace; and the subser-
vient churchmen willingly taught their innumera-
ble dupes, to regard the pious czar as the head of
the church on earth, as the representative of God
himself, and even, in some measure, as an infe-
rior divinity !

In a word, Nicholas I. represented, in his own
person, the great aggressive and conservative
power of our time. After the downfall of Na-
poleon, he became the head and leader of the
despotic powers of Europe, and the great repre-



100 THE LIFE AND REIGN

sentative of absolutism in the nineteenth century.
Metternich, Louis Philippe, Guizot, even "Windisch-
gratz, Jellachich, and Haynau, were indirectly his
agents and subordinates, in the great and infa-
mous work of rolling back the advancing tide of
human freedom. In this age of progress, one
man thought himself powerful enough to suppress
the upward tendencies of the whole world, and that
man was Nicholas I.

The absolute nature of his power in his own
dominions can scarcely be credited. He was the
political colossus of Europe a colossus that was
not only powerful, but untrammelled, and free. He
possessed the absolute control of life and death over
his subjects. By a single nod, he could enfran-
chise and disfranchise them. By a single word,
he could raise them from poverty to opulence, and
degrade them from opulence to poverty again.
His iron will, unrestrained by a single restriction
or guarantee, could inflict the horrors of Siberia,
the agonies of the knout, and the penalties of in-
famy and dishonour, upon any unfortunate being
who might incur his displeasure.

Such a power, intrusted to the hands of one
frail mortal, is fearful to look upon! And to us,
free-born republicans, who acknowledge no man on
earth as master, its possession seems to be a most



OF NICHOLAS THE FIRST. 101

execrable and detestable outrage oil humanity !
And the truth of this conviction will be evinced,
when, at a later stage of our history, it becomes
our duty to relate how the insane and haughty
ambition of this single man, threw Europe into a
most dangerous, ruinous, and expensive war, and
caused the death and the misery of several millions
of his fellow-creatures.



I



102 THE LIFE AND REIGN




CHAPTER IX.

CORONATION OF NICHOLAS I. THE VAST CROWDS OF PERSONS AS-
SEMBLED IN MOSCOW FKOM VARIOUS COUNTRIES DESCRIPTION OP
THE KREMLIN THE IMPERIAL PROCESSIONS THE IMPOSING CERE-
MONIES IN THE CATHEDRAL OF THE ASSUMPTION THE MANIFESTO

PUBLISHED BY NICHOLAS AFTER HIS CORONATION THE CONTINUED

FESTIVITIES, BALLS, AND MASQUERADES IN MOSCOW CONGRATULA-
TIONS THROUGHOUT THE EMPIRE.

SUCH were the powers and the prerogatives to
whose possession Nicholas I. had fallen heir. For
various reasons, the important ceremony of his
coronation was postponed for some months. At
length this imposing ceremony took place at
Moscow, on the 3d of September, 1826, amid
such pomp and splendour as to have exceeded
any thing recorded in the previous history of the
nation. Nicholas, together with the empress, the
empress-mother, and their suites, had arrived at
Moscow some three weeks before. They had
taken up their residence at the ancient castle and
palace of the Kremlin; and the interval between
their arrival in Moscow and the ceremony of coro-
nation, had been occupied by various festivals, both



OF NICHOLAS THE FIRST. 103

religious and social, which gave the occasion the
gay appearance of a general carnival.

This august occasion had drawn together to
Moscow, as to a common centre, representatives
of all the various races which were subject to the
powerful sceptre of the czars, as well as from many
other countries of Europe and of Asia. The streets
of the city were crowded with a vast and hetero-
geneous multitude, amounting to 350,000 persons,
although the usual number of its inhabitants was
only half as great. Various regiments of soldiers,
amounting to 50,000 men, were stationed in and


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