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country was a prey to internal dissension. Profiting by this, the new ruler of Afghanistan, the Emir Mahmud, compelled Hussein to accept him as grand vizier and actual ruler of Persia. Humiliated in this way, Hussein abdicated in favor of his youthful son, Tohmas Mirza. Daud Bek, the ruler of the Lesghians, a tribe in the Caucasus, who paid a yearly tribute to Persia, followed the example of the Afghans. He took Shemakha, robbed the Russians who traded there, and utterly ruined Yeoréinof, a very wealthy and at that time well-known Russian merchant. At the same time Vakhtan, the Prince of Georgia, who not long before had become a Mussulman to please the Shah, tried now to free himself from the Persian yoke, and for that sought support from Russia. He applied to Volynsky, the governor of Astrakhan, expressed his willingness to return to the Christian faith, and offered forty thousand troops to act against Persia. Moved by the representations of Volynsky, who shortly before had made a journey of observation through Persia, and fearing that the Turks might use this opportunity to establish their supremacy in the Caucasus, and perhaps on the Caspian, the
(AFTER A PAINTING BY CEDERSTRÖM.)
Tsar resolved on an expedition to the Caspian, and on giving unasked-for support to the young Shah of Persia. In the beginning of 1722 he went to Moscow, ordered ships to be prepared on the Volga, and in May, together with Catherine, set out by water to Astrakhan, stopping from time to time. along the Volga, and entertained by the wealthy Russian manufacturing family of Strógonof at Nijni-Novgorod. In spite of strong representations from the Porte, Peter sailed from Astrakhan to Derbent on the 29th of July, with twenty-two thousand infantry and five thousand sailors. His cavalry, to the number of nine thousand, besides forty thousand Cossacks and Kalmuks and thirty thousand Tartars, marched by land. Tarku surrendered, but it was necessary to attack and destroy Utamysh, whose ruler offered opposition, and on the 3d of September the Tsar arrived at Derbent, and received its keys from the commandant. Peter remained here a month.
Autumn drew on, it became difficult to supply his army, and therefore, leaving a garrison in Derbent, he returned to Astrakhan and thence to Moscow, where, on the 24th of December, he made a triumphal entry
into the old capital. The usual praise for his victories was heightened by the fact that he had captured a town founded, as the legend went, by Alexander of Macedonia. He remained in Moscow until spring, and, on the eve of his departure to St. Petersburg, set fire with his own hands to his old wooden palace at Preobrazhensky, saying to the young Duke of Holstein: "Here I first thought of war against Sweden. May every thought of enmity disappear with this house! May Sweden be the truest ally of my empire!"
The troops which Peter left behind him did their work well. Shipof established himself at Resht, in spite of the ill-will of the inhabitants and of the Persian authorities, who objected to this unasked-for assist- | ance, and Matiushkin, being refused admittance to Baku in the summer of 1723, was obliged to take that town. These actions, however, were of little importance, for at the end of September, 1723, a treaty was made with an envoy sent by Tohmas Shah to St. Petersburg, by which Russia agreed to protect the Shah against rebels, and the Shah in return promised to provide for the auxiliary troops sent, ceded to Russia the towns of Derbent and Baku, together with the whole of the coast of the Caspian, including the provinces of Ghilan, Mazanderan, and Astrabad. In this way, almost without a war, Russia succeeded in obtaining a strip of territory in Asia which was to be of great consequence to its future, for although portions of this were subsequently returned to Persia, its occupation led to the annexation of the whole of the Caucasus. The efforts to settle the country with Armenians from the Turkish possessions brought about disputes with the Porte, and in January, 1724, matters had come to such a point that there was imminent danger of war. The mediation of the French embassador was accepted, and resulted entirely in the favor of Russia. The Armenian emigration was allowed, but Vakhtan, the Georgian prince who had returned to Christianity, was oppressed both by Turks and Persians, and was finally obliged to give up his throne to a rival prince, and to seek refuge in Russia.
The most important event in the relations of Russia with the Western powers was the conclusion of a defensive alliance with Sweden, in February, 1724; the two states after their long war had entered into a firm friendship. Both powers agreed to prevent internal disorders in Poland and to uphold its ancient liberties and elective
government. These stipulations confirmed the policy of the neighboring states toward Poland, for it was well seen that the maintenance of the old Polish liberties would sooner or later bring about the ruin of the Republic and give possibilities of profiting by its dismemberment. Ever since his visit to Paris, Peter had been in the best of relations with the French court, and he had at one time the design even of marrying one of his daughters, Elisabeth, to the young Louis XV. Fate brought about that, instead of the daughter of Peter, the French King married the daughter of his old enemy Stanislas. The good understanding with France assisted in keeping up friendly relations with the Stuarts. Peter supported the Pretender because he had for a long time been on bad terms with King George I. But this support did not lead Russia to any active undertakings on his behalf. When the French became reconciled to England, Peter was ready to follow their example, but that did not come about in his life-time.
The health of Peter had become much more broken. He was subject to frequent attacks of fever and weakness, and now every summer went for a while to the iron springs which had been discovered in the government of Olonetz. He evidently felt that his end might come soon; and in 1722 published a decree about the succession, by which all rights of inheritance were abolished. The permission was given to every sovereign of Russia to name his successor as he thought best, without regard to relationship or rank. His sons were all dead, and he did not seem favorably disposed toward the claims of his grandson, the child of Alexis. Yet he had not named a successor. It appears that he had the idea in his mind of leaving the throne to his wife Catherine. It is nowhere plainly expressed, and can be deduced only from circumstances. In the spring of 1724, he resolved on the coronation of Catherine. She was already called Empress, but only as his wife. He now desired to give her this title independently of him, and in a proclamation addressed to his people he recounted all her services to him and to the state, laying especial stress on what she had done during the campaign on the Pruth. The coronation took place on the 18th of May, 1724, in the Cathedral of the Assumption at Moscow, for Moscow still remained the center of the national unity. The ceremony was conducted by the Met
ropolitan of Novgorod, and Theophán Procópovitch, Bishop of Pskof, preached the sermon, but Peter himself placed the crown on the head of his wife. Such an event had never been known in Russian history, except when Maria Muishek, the wife of Demetrius, had been publicly crowned. Feasts, masquerades, and balls, together with popular festivities, lasted for days, and as if to show that he had prepared for Catherine a power equal to his own, he allowed her to create Peter Tolstói a count.
While feasts and merriment prevailed at court, the condition of Russia was by no means happy. Everywhere there were complaints of misery. The recent bad harvests had made provisions dear. The grain store-houses which the Emperor long ago commanded to be built everywhere throughout Russia, existed only on paper. Crowds of poverty-stricken wretches wandered through the streets and along the high-roads, though Peter had often ordered that there should be no beggars in his empire, and under pain of penalties had forbidden his subjects to give alms. The hungry peasThe hungry peasants turned to robbery and murder, and even in the neighborhood of St. Petersburg there were bands of marauders. The deficiencies in the taxes became greater and
greater; the Boards of War and Marine had not enough money to keep up the army and the fleet. Still the burdens of the people did not diminish. The colonization of Russian peasants to the detested St. Petersburg was continued, and many debtors to the treasury were sent to hard labor at Cronstadt and Rogerwik (now Baltic Port) -a new port laid out by Peter near Reval. While the courtiers were amusing themselves at masquerades, loud curses were heard among the people, for which many unfortunate persons were dragged to the privy chancery and given over to barbarous tortures. After the return of the court to St. Petersburg, preparations were made for new festivities to celebrate the marriage of the young Duke of Holstein, nephew of Charles XII., with the Princess Anna, the daughter of Peter and Catherine. character of Peter had in some respects changed. Sometimes he was indefatigable in work; at others he desired solitude, and was so morose that no one dared speak to him, even about business. At times he would indulge in long conversations with his chaplain; at others he would send for his doctor, and perhaps immediately afterward give himself up to drinking and feasting. At the end of August, he took part in the
consecration of a church at his new country palace of Tsarskoe-Selo. The festivities continued for several days, and as many as three thousand bottles of wine were drunk. The consequence was an illness which kept Peter in bed for a week, but he had no sooner got up again than he went off to Schlüsselburg, and there had a new debauch on the anniversary of the capture of the fort. From Schlüsselburg Peter went to the iron-works of Olónetz, hammered out with his own hands a sheet of iron weighing more than a hundred pounds; then went to Novgorod, and from Novgorod to StarayaRus, to examine the salt-works. After this came a visit to the Ladóga canal, which, under the directions of Münnich, was making great progress. During the previous five years, hardly twelve versts had been dug by twenty thousand men, while Münnich had succeeded in cutting five versts in a single year, hoped before winter to dig seven more, and employed only twenty-nine hundred soldiers and five thousand free workmen. The cost of working, too, was much less than before. In the early part of November Peter returned to St. Petersburg by water, and immediately started for Systerbeck to examine the iron-works there. he approached the village of Lakhta, near the mouth of the Neva, he saw a boat full of soldiers and sailors carried in every
direction by the wind and storm, which finally grounded before his eyes. Peter impatiently ordered his men to sail up to it, jumped into the water up to his waist, and aided in dragging the boat off the shoal. Several of his own crew were drowned in assisting him, but Peter worked the whole night in the water, and succeeded in saving the lives of twenty men. The next day he felt an attack of fever, put off his cruise to Systerbeck, and sailed back to St. Petersburg.
While Peter was still suffering with fever, a series of events occurred which greatly affected him morally. Catherine had a secretary who stood high in her favor and had charge of her property-William Mons, a brother of the Anna Mons who had been Peter's mistress before he made Catherine's acquaintance. Another sister, Metrena Balk, was a lady of honor. They profited by their position and the confidence placed in them to take bribes for the influence of the Empress. More than this, Peter, who had grown strangely suspicious, began to be jealous of Mons, and suspected his relations toward the Empress. Soon after the return of the Emperor to St. Petersburg, Mons was arrested one evening at his own house by the director of the secret chancery, who demanded his sword and his keys and sealed up all his papers. The next day he
was subjected to an interrogatory in the presence of the Emperor, which so unnerved him that he fainted, and it was necessary to bleed him. The next day, he was again questioned and was threatened with torture. To save himself from this, Mons confessed that he had turned to his own use the revenues of several estates of the Empress, and that he had taken a bribe from a peasant with the promise of making him a groom of the Empress. He was sent to the fortress, and subsequently, on the 25th of Novem
ber, was condemned to death. Catherine had the courage to ask Peter for the pardon both of Mons and his accomplices, at which the Emperor flew into such a passion that he smashed with his fist a handsome Venetian mirror. "Thus," he said, "I can annihilate the most beautiful adornment of my palace." Catherine could not but understand that in these words there was a hint at her own position, but calmly replied: "And have you made the palace any the more beautiful by doing so?" Peter then