Puslapio vaizdai


wise, he would yield Narva, but nothing more. The same propositions were made through the wife of the Crown hetman Sieniawski-a daughter of the Crown Marshal Lubomirski-to the Voievode Jablonowski, the uncle of King Stanislas, who had great influence at the Swedish head-quarters. The same offer was also made through Desailleure, the French minister, with Prince Rákóczy, and then a promise was made

that the Russian troops would be put at the disposition of Louis XIV. in case his mediation were successful. These overtures were all fruitless. Charles put off Besenval under various pretexts before refusing outright. At first it was that the Tsar was not in earnest, or he would not excite Poland against Stanislas, and that he wished only to have the air of being inclined to peace. clined to peace. In June, Charles replied

to Besenval's persistent applications that he should not believe the Tsar until he had his propositions in writing, as he could not trust his word, and the title of Prince of Ingria given to Menshikóf showed that the Tsar had no thought of peace; when compensation was broached, he said that he would not bargain away his subjects for money. In August, he said that he could do nothing until he went back to Poland; that then would be time enough to give passes to the Tsar's plenipotentiaries. In October, when the Tsar offered to give up everything except Noteburg, St. Petersburg, and a narrow strip of land on each side of the Neva, Charles replied: "I will sacrifice the last Swedish soldier rather than cede Noteburg."

This was the last attempt of Peter, but others, like Piper and Stanislas, still tried to dissuade Charles from the invasion of Russia, and urged him to make peace, now that he was at the height of his fame. To Piper the King said that he knew with whom he had to deal, and that the moment he was back in Sweden the Tsar would overturn Stanislas, and put Augustus or Rákóczy on the throne of Poland. To others he said he was willing to make peace, but in "Saxon style." To Stanislas, who complained of the misery of his subjects, and almost regretted having accepted the crown, Charles said: "The Tsar is not yet humiliated enough to accept the conditions of peace which I intend to prescribe." Later in the autumn he replied to the renewed entreaties of Stanislas: "Poland will never have quiet as long as she has for a neighbor this unjust Tsar, who begins a war without any good cause for it. It will be needful first for me to march there and to depose him also." Charles talked of restoring the old order of things in Russia, of canceling the unpopular reforms, and of abolishing the regular army and bringing back the Streltsi; and so sure was he of success, that on taking leave of Stanislas, on the eve of the campaign, he said: "I hope Prince Sobieski will always remain faithful to us. Does Your Majesty not think that he would make an excellent Tsar of Russia ? "

In seeking for aid and counsel, the Tsar naturally turned first to England. Already, in 1705, Whitworth, the English minister, on arriving in Moscow, had expressed the willingness of Queen Anne to mediate between Russia, Poland, and Sweden, but added that anything the Queen could do


would depend entirely upon the attitude of the King of Sweden. For that reason he had on his way to Russia passed by Silesia and Danzig, and what he had seen and heard there had convinced him that King Charles was disinclined to peace; he therefore could make no definite proposition. At the end of 1706, Matvéief, the Russian minister in Holland, was ordered to go to London, "as this was now the main stronghold of the grand alliance." He was instructed to say that if the promise of the Queen, given through Whitworth, should be carried out, the Tsar, out of gratitude, would be ready to join in the grand alliance against France; and that even if the Swedes were unwilling to come to terms, the united powers could put down both France and Sweden. The Tsar left the terms of peace entirely to the Queen, with the sole condition that he should not be obliged to give up those hereditary possessions which he had reconquered, though he would make great concessions on other points. Matvéief was ordered to lay stress upon the advantages to England of a Russian alliance and of a Russian port in the Baltic, since Russian goods, and especially naval stores and materials, could easily be brought to England several times a year, and to express the willingness of the Tsar to sign a commercial treaty. To one paragraph, that if necessary he might assure the English Government that Russia had no intention of having a large fleet of war vessels on the Baltic, the Tsar made an autograph note: "This is very well, but it would be better not to mention prematurely the number of vessels." Should negotiations be likely to fail, he was to seek for means to influence Marlborough, Godolphin, and the Secretary of State for the Northern Department, and could even promise them large presents, but he was to act cautiously and economically in this respect. Here Peter added another note: "I do not think that Marlborough can be bought, because he is so enormously rich. However, you can promise him about two hundred thousand, or more."

Matvéief arrived in London in May, 1707, and was at first pleased with the agreeable manner of the English officials, but he speedily encountered difficulties. Some of these arose from the constitution of England, and Matvéief had trouble in explaining to his superiors the differences between Whigs and Tories, between the partisans of the Queen and those of HanHe was especially annoyed that the


merchants, in spite of their advantageous | trade with Russia, were unwilling by their representations to help on his demands. He made a journey to Windsor expressly to expedite his negotiations, but the only answer was that there was no time to consider his propositions. Finally, Harley, in a friendly conversation, explained to him that discussion was postponed because the Queen, in the present circumstances, did not wish to quarrel with Russia, with which it had an advantageous trade, nor with Sweden, since King Charles had declared that he would do nothing against Austria. As Matvéief could not be kept much longer without a formal answer of some sort, Queen Anne gave him an audience in September, and said that she was ready to make an alliance with the Tsar; and at the end of the month Harley called on him and talked over the terms of the answer of the Queen to the Tsar. In this letter, the Queen said that she waited only for the consent of Holland to state on what terms the alliance could be made, and that she was then ready to make a special commercial treaty. Harley confided to Matvéief, in the greatest secrecy, that the English Government had promised money to the Swedish ministers to save Patkul from execution; "but," he added, “that is a private affair; publicly, the Queen cannot interfere, but still I think Patkul's life will be saved." Marlborough wrote to Matvéief that he was using all his influence in Holland to persuade the States-General to agree to the entrance of Russia in the grand alliance, but Matvéief did not trust much to these assurances, and wrote to Van der Burg, his agent at The Hague, to find out whether Marlborough was acting according to his promises, or whether he had "honey on his tongue and gall in his heart." Two months passed without answer from Holland, and the English ministers said they must wait till Marlborough returned. "The ministry here," wrote Matvéief to Golófkin, "is more subtle than the French even in finesse and intrigue; their smooth and profitless speeches bring us nothing but loss of time." Marlborough came to London about the middle of November, visited Matvéief the next evening, and talked a long time with him alone. He recounted in detail his efforts in Holland, but brought up many difficulties. Matvéief finally asked the Duke to say plainly, as an honest man, without sweet promises, whether the Tsar could hope for anything or not. Marlborough, in reply, was profuse in professions

and promises, and with these Matvéief had to be content.*

Huyssen, Peter's secret agent, had some relations with Marlborough on the Continent, and, according to his report, the Duke declared that he would be ready to coöperate with the Tsar, provided he were given a principality in Russia. When Golófkin referred this to Peter, he replied: "Answer Huyssen that if Marlborough wishes a Russian principality he can promise him one of three, whichever he wishes,-Kief, Vladímir, or Siberia ;-and he can promise him also that, if he persuades the Queen to make a good peace for us with the Swedes, he shall receive, as the revenues of his principality, fifty thousand ducats for every year of his life, in addition to the Order of St. Andrew, and a ruby as large as any in Europe." The negotiations with Marlborough did not proceed further. No mediation was possible so long as Peter refused to give up St. Petersburg, and Charles refused to make peace without it.

Reference has been made to the offers for the intervention of Louis XIV. In Prussia, Izmaílof made equally fruitless efforts for mediation, or at least for a declaration of neutrality, and promised Count Wartenberg one hundred thousand ducats for his effective assistance. Dorpat and Narva were offered to Denmark as an inducement to declare war once more against Sweden.

At the end of February, 1707, the Polish Diet at Lemberg sent a deputation to the Tsar with the demand that those parts of the Ukraine west of the Dnieper-the district of Biela-Tserkof-which had been seized upon by the Cossack Paléi, should be at once restored to the Republic. They complained of the great distress which they still suffered in consequence of the necessity of providing the Russian army with provisions and forage, and of the unlawful exactions of

*Matvéief appears to have had some talk with Marlborough even before proceeding to London; for Marlborough, in a letter to Godolphin, dated The Hague, April, 1707, says: "The embassador of Muscovy has been with me, and made many expressions of the great esteem his master has for Her Majesty; that he would do everything to merit her friendship; and, as a mark of it, he had resolved to send his only son into England; but he desired nobody but the Queen might know it, since he must pass incognito through several countries. He is also very desirous of the honor, as he calls it, of the Queen's appointing him a house. As it can be of no precedent to any country but their own, and as the expense is so very inconsiderable, I hope Her Majesty will do it; for it is certain you will not be able to gratify him in any part of his negotiation."

the officers, alleging that they were better off during the Swedish occupation, when things taken were more promptly paid for; they complained that instead of twelve thousand Russian troops, as agreed to, they were compelled to support many more, and threatened that, unless some allowance were made, they would give no provisions during the six summer months. They demanded also the immediate payment of two hundred thousand rubles, according to treaty. Golófkin, who had charge of this negotiation, replied that forty thousand rubles had already been given to the Crown army, and thirty thousand rubles to the Lithuanian army; that there had been no agreement to pay in advance, and that nothing was due for the previous year, because the requisite number of Polish troops had not been put in the field. The Poles proposed to give up the claim for money if they should be relieved from supplying the troops, but this the Tsar considered impossible, and agreed to pay immediately fifty thousand rubles; but he refused to pay damages for illegal acts committed by marauders, although he gave strict orders for the maintenance of discipline, and appointed General Bruce to act with a Polish commissary in investigating complaints and punishing offenders. Fifty thousand rubles had been promised to the Poles, but it was not possible at that time to raise more than twenty thousand. The Poles would not consent to take less than half, and continued to press for the surrender of Biela-Tserkof, in the Polish Ukraine. It was impossible to give them back the Ukraine at the risk of sowing discontent among the Cossacks, when Charles XII. was again expected in Poland, and yet it was impolitic to alienate them, and, by a direct refusal, perhaps send them over to the party of Stanislas. It was necessary to temporize, and in spite of his recent disgrace and punishment, the veteran Ukraintsef was named Commissary to the Diet. His great experience in Polish affairs, and his diplomatic skill, combined with a judicious distribution of money, brought the Diet to accept the twenty thousand rubles, and to be satisfied with the promise of the Ukraine. "All here have now become merry," wrote Ukraíntsef to Golóf kin," and feast and make good cheer, hearing that the enemy, with all his forces, is going against us by the way of Lithuania, for they think that Stanislas Leszczynski will stick to him. The hetman Sieniawski was very sad for a week over the capture of his wife by the enemy, but since he has come

to Lemberg he is comforted again, and scarcely a day passes that he is not at a banquet."

The Tsar was not satisfied with this neutral position of the Polish magnates, and felt it necessary to weaken the influence of Stanislas. In pursuance of this aim, he sent a special mission to Rome, in order, if possible, to persuade the Pope to refuse recognition to the Swedish puppet. He chose for this mission a man who subsequently attained distinction as a diplomatist, Prince Boris Kurákin, his friend and comrade from boyhood,* who had studied at Venice, and had already visited Rome. This step had been suggested more than a year before, both by leading Poles and by the Catholic clergy. The Tsar had atoned for the unfortunate affray in the Basilian monastery at Polótsk by expressions and acts of sincere repentance, by the immunities accorded to the Uniates during the war, and by the privileges granted to Catholics and Catholic missionaries in Russia. The reverential curiosity which he had shown in his visits to Jesuit colleges, and his attendance with his son at the consecration of the Bishop of Kuiavia, disposed in his favor those enthusiasts who were ready to see in all this symptoms of a desire to unite the two churches. Prince Kurákin was well received at Rome; attention was given to his arguments as to the danger to Catholicism of allowing Swedish Protestant influence to become predominant in Poland; and Pope Clement XI., through Cardinal Paulucci, promised that he would not recognize Stanislas as king until he had been so recognized by the whole of Poland.

To bring order into Polish affairs, the Tsar considered it indispensable to provide another king in place of Augustus, who could now have no claims either on the loyalty of the Poles or the support of Russia. Both in Moscow and in Vienna, it was said that Menshikóf was intriguing for the Polish crown, and the arrival of the Tsarévitch Alexis gave some color to the rumor that Peter designed to place his son on the vacant throne. The Polish magnates had their dreams of gaining the honor which Charles had conferred on Stanislas. From Peter's point of view, it was necessary to have some strong and able man, who could lead armies as well as rule men, and his choice fell first on Prince Eugene of Savoy,

Prince Kurákin had married the sister of the Tsaritsa Eudoxia.

then at the height of his reputation. In order to get the consent of the Emperor, in whose service Prince Eugene then was, he decided on sending a solemn embassy to Vienna, and placed at the head of it Prince Boris Prozorófsky, a member of one of the oldest Russian families, but better known by his escape from the massacre at Astrakhán, after Stenka Rázin had hanged him by his feet to the city wall for a whole night. Prozorófsky arrived, with a suite of two hundred men, but the order for his departure never came. The difficulty was this: It was impossible to choose a king before the throne was formally declared vacant, and the Diet hesitated to proclaim the interregnum, as no official notification had been received of the abdication of Augustus. It was not until April that Peter could bring them to agree on this. He wrote to Menshikóf from Lemberg: "It was hardly possible to manage affairs with these rascals so as to bring them to sign and confirm all the treaties and issue universals." The embassy of Prozorófsky was given up, and the Tsar sent instead a letter to the Emperor,* in which he bitterly complained of the cowardice and faithlessness of King Augustus, especially of his shameful surrender of Patkul. Urbich, in presenting this letter, set forth the Tsar's desire to enter the grand alliance, his willingness to give some of his troops for service against the rebels in Hungary, and his intention of procuring the election of Prince Eugene as king of Poland. Negotiations were carried on cautiously, but the secret got out, and with his congratulations Count Wratislaw was able to send to the prince some effusions of the rhymesters of the day. Prince Eugene was in Milan, preparing to go to the siege of Toulon, when he received the proposition. Thanking the Tsar for the flattering honor, he said that his acceptance must depend upon the permission of his sovereign, and wrote to the Emperor Joseph that, in accordance with the principles of strict obedience which had governed him for the twenty years he had been in the imperial service, he left the matter entirely in his hands, without any feelings of vain ambition. Although the Emperor could see advantages to himself in the project, yet he did not dare further to offend Charles XII., who had so taken to heart the success of Stanislas, especially as his troops were

* Similar letters were sent to England and Holland.

scattered on the Rhine, in Italy, and in Hungary. A polite but evasive answer was therefore returned to all the Russian propositions; it was said that, as the services of Prince Eugene were indispensable during the campaign just beginning, nothing could be decided definitely before the next winter.

Even before receiving the Emperor's reply, however, Peter, who already knew of what was practically the refusal of Prince Eugene, had proposed the Polish crown to Prince Jacob Sobieski. This plan originated with Szaniawski, Bishop of Kuiavia, who suggested to Prince Gregory Dolgorúky that, if the Tsar would take Sobieski under his protection, he would find in him a true ally and a mortal enemy to both Stanislas and Augustus, and gave him the conditions on which, he said, the prince would accept. Peter replied favorably to Dolgorúky, and on the next day, June 7, wrote to Prince Sobieski inclosing formal proposals. The bishop had apparently made the proposition on his own responsibility, to thwart the ambitious plans of the hetman Sieniawski, since Sobieski, grateful to Charles XII. for releasing him from his Saxon prison, had declared to Stanislas in the previous December that he had never had any pretensions to the Polish throne, and that if fate had given him the disposal of it, he could have offered it to no one but its present worthy possessor.

When the Tsar found that he could obtain no support at Vienna, he felt no hesitation in turning to Rákóczy and the Hungarian insurgents, against whom he had just offered the use of his troops. That proposition had been refused because some of the Austrian statesmen had feared "lest the Tsar might establish himself in Hungary, with the aid of the Serbian inhabitants of the Greek faith." Peter had already begun to interest himself in the Eastern Christians, was in correspondence with the boyárs and nobles of Moldavia and Wallachia, and had received envoys from the Austrian Serbs-those very men of whom Rákóczy wrote: "They look on the Russians as on the Messiah who will come to deliver them." Although aided by French money, French officers, and French influence, Francis Rákóczy was by no means a French puppet. He had ancestral claims, for his father and grandfather were princes of Transylvania, and his mother was the heroic Helen Zriny, the widow of Tekely. He had married a princess of Hesse-Rheins

« AnkstesnisTęsti »