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soldiers were sent to seize him during the night. Saxe had no great aversion to be taken prisoner and transported to St. Petersburg, where he might make a conquest of even the haughty Empress's heart; but he had no wish to let it reach Anne's ears that a frail and fair companion was passing the night with him. He hastily summoned his valet and ordered him to dress the girl in men's clothes and send her away, which he did, disguising her in one of his master's suits. The girl was seized. The Russian captain recognised the suit, and, thinking that its rightful owner was within it, conducted the poor girl to the general, announcing her as the Comte de Saxe. She told her story; the general laughed heartily at his subordinate's confusion; and with true Russian humour, worthy of Peter the Great himself, compelled the captain to atone for his blundering and blindness by marrying her. The loud laughter with which the nobility of Courland received the story of the loves of Anne's protégé was wormwood to her. She hurled bitter and angry reproaches at him ; and then her
; rage melted and quenched itself in tears. The brilliant rascal pleaded so persuasively for forgiveness that again he stole away her wrath. To keep him safe from temptation she fixed his permanent residence in her own palace. Saxe and his suite lived on one side of the court, she and her ladies on the other. The sense of the nearness of his fiancée did not overawe his rebellious appetite. He formed an intrigue with one of her ladies who lived conveniently on the ground floor, and who frequently visited his apartments at night, returning in the morning before the palace was astir. One morning there was a heavy fall of snow on the ground. Saxe gallantly carried his friend on his shoulders across the court to her window, that her dainty feet might not be chilled. An old woman with a lit lantern passed, and seeing the din shadowy outlines of the strange procession screamed out in alarm. Saxe tried to kick the lantern out of her hand, but in doing so his foot, unexpectedly called on to resist the whole force of the law of gravitation, slipped ; and he and his precious burden were buried in the snow. In their fall they knocked down the old woman, who redoubled her cries, waking the echoes of the court, bringing the sentinels to the spot and the ladies and gentlemen of the palace to their windows. In the morning Saxe was dismissed by the Duchess, and told to think of her no more. After she became Czarina he bribed her chamberlain to try to rekindle her old affection for him ; but the attempt failed. Anne dismissed the
2 audacious official, and never forgave him. Another candidate for the hand of the Empress was Don Manuel of Portugal. She received him at St. Petersburg with great distinction, but would not
so much as permit him to mention the object of his visit. Horace Walpole tells of a Sir Francis Dashwood who in early life made a voyage to Russia, dressed like Charles XII., in hopes of making the Czarina fall in love with him. Surely the Swedish misogynist was an improper hero to copy when a woman's heart was to be captivated. This exhausts the list of Anne's legitimate lovers, whose intentions, if mercenary, were strictly honourable.
The short reign of Peter II. intervened between the demise of Catherine I. and the accession of Anne to the throne. Peter's father was the murdered Prince Alexis, son of Peter the Great and his divorced wife Eudoxia. In her will Catherine declared him a minor till he reached the age of sixteen, and appointed a regency of ten persons, over whom Prince Menzikoff retained the overmastering power which he had wielded under Catherine, who, before her marriage to the Great Czar, had been his mistress. This great statesman sprang from the gutter of Moscow. He was an itinerant vendor of gingerbread, and carried his tray before him, strapped round his shoulders; some even aver that he sang in the streets for a living. The young Czar and the waif, each aged fifteen years, had a trial of wit; and his Majesty was so captivated by the impudent face and facile tongue and knowing leer and preternatural intelligence of the City arab, that he appointed him to some menial office in his palace, and resolved to make a man of him. At the time of his disgrace, during the reign of Peter II., he was found possessed of a fortune of eight millions sterling. To the day of his death he could neither read nor write. He had considerable intellect of the vulpine type. His faculties were all apprenticed to himself; but he had the wit to know that to be a true reformer and a wise administrator was the shrewdest
а form of selfishness he could choose. He was quite ready to stoop to conquer; like Sir Pertinax McSycophant, he might have said of himself that he had got on by “cringing and booing.” When the Czar was in a frenzy of rage, and could get no other person to kick, Menzikoff had no objection to Peter relieving his feelings on his faithful body. He flattered the Czar by repeating his vices. Once, when His Majesty punished a rebellious regiment by chopping off the heads of its ring
а leaders with his own royal hands, he justified his act on the pious plea that “there was no victim more acceptable to the Deity than a wicked man;" on which Menzikoff, conviction being carried to his Teason, jumped up with a shout of approval, and beheaded a few more. Again and again the Czar replenished his purse by fining his favourite, who he knew had frequent opportunities, and indeed carte blanche from his Majesty, to embezzle, and no conscience to restrain
him. Menzikoft's ambition was boundless; the ex-street minstrel was within an ace of settling his posterity on the throne, for a despotism seems as favourable to the rise of talent of a certain type as a republic, especially when the despot does not sit coddling himself on his throne, and is of a roving disposition and "hailfellow-well-met" with his subjects. The prince had cajoled the
” Czarina, who during her short reign was seldom sober, and who indeed drank herself to death, to decree in her will that the young Emperor should marry his daughter; and he intrigued to get his son wedded to the Emperor's sister Natalia. He set such restrictions on the free movements of the youthful sovereign, that no malcontent had a chance of sowing a suspicion in his mind. By a stroke of great imprudence, however, Menzikoff brought about his own disgrace.
"Where are you going with that money?” said he to a gentleman of the court whom he saw carrying a well-filled purse through the hall of the palace.
"His Majesty sends it as a present to his sister," was the reply.
“Take it into my room; the Emperor is too young to know how to dispose of money."
A few days after, the Princess came to visit the Emperor, who asked her indignantly if the present he had sent her was not worth thanks. Inquiries were at once made, and Menzikoff was ordered to attend his Majesty.
“ How did you dare, sir, to stop my servant and take that money from him?"
The prince was thunderstruck at the peremptory and rebellious tone of the Czar; and answered that the State was in want of money; that he had a plan ready to submit to His Majesty for the better disposal of it. “If, however, your Majesty commands it, I will restore the 9,000 ducats, and also lend you a million roubles (£220,000) out of my private purse.” The Czar stamped his foot, and answered, “I will let you know that I am Emperor” —(aged 12!)—" and that I will be obeyed.” There must be a sense of the ridiculous, a deep love of fun, in the powers that regulate the providential affairs of men. What a quiet inward chuckle they must have indulged in when they planned such an incongruity as this scene is! Menzikoff was banished by this child to the remotest region of Siberia. His poor old wife, grown blind with weeping, died by the way. His family was exiled. Out of his liberal allowance of ten roubles a day, he built a church at which he himself worked hatchet in hand, recalling, I doubt not, the old Zaandam days when the Great Czar and he toiled together; and died in the second year of his expatriation. The history of the next three years is a weary chronicle of intrigue and self-seeking on the part of the Russian nobility-of conspiracies to monopolise the ear and regard of the Emperor. Prince Dolgorucki, who Marshal Keith says was only fit to direct a pack of hounds, was about to marry him to his sister, a pretty little girl with large liquid blue eyes, witty and sweet-tempered, and with whom Peter fell violently in love; when Peter caught small-pox, and persisting in his own wilful, royal way in sitting at an open window during his convalescence—and there being no one daring or unselfish enough to chastise him—had a relapse, and died in the fifteenth year of his age, on the day fixed for his marriage. In him the male line of the Romanoff became extinct.
Anne was a dummy sovereign, covering a real sovereign who pulled the strings and worked her from behind. Duke Bieren of Courland was her proprietor-body as well as soul. “Sit a beggar on horseback, and he will ride to destruction ;” and the groom's grandson, on his elevation to the seat of sovereignty, showed a cruelty of disposition which made his name a terror. The ambassadors deputed to announce to Anne her elevation to the Russian throne found a boorish-looking fellow lounging in the apartment into which they had been shown, and concluded from his manners and deportment that he had not been born to move in such a sphere. They requested him to retire ; whiclı he declined to do. Prince Dolgorucki was about to turn him out by force, when Anne entered and commanded him to desist. Bieren, for it was he, was present during the whole of the interview, and heard Anne's assent to the conditions of her election, one of which obliged her to leave him behind. Many years before, he had fled from Courland to St. Petersburg to avoid being arrested for several serious crimes; an official hint was given him that his departure from the Russian capital would be a prudential movement. He returned to Mittau, and found means to ingratiate himself with Bestucheff, the High Chancellor, who introduced him to the Duchess Anne. She was so charmed with him that she made him her-what? The nobility of Courland despised him, and had no difficulty and very little compunction in letting him see that they did not know him ; when the throne of Courland became vacant he appeared as a candidate, and persuaded his mistress, now Empress, to support his claims by force. While the nobility were canvassing the merits of the rival competitors in the Cathedral of Mittau, her general, Bismarck, posted some companies of horse in the churchyard that surrounds it, to secure a free and unbiassed
election. On the restoration of the despotic power of the throne, Anne summoned her favourite to St. Petersburg, ennobled him, appointed him gentleman of the bed-chamber, and lord high chamberlain. During the whole of Anne's reign he governed Russia with a rod of iron. He was handsome, ignorant, vindictive. What intellect he had was developed on the side of the low animal faculties of cunning, audacity, and dissimulation. The Austrian Ambassador said “ that he talked like a man when he spoke of horses, and like a horse when he spoke of men.” His bearing towards the Empress was most arrogant and disrespectful. He would burst into her presence in the middle of a reception, and declare with oaths and curses that he would no longer be persecuted by her servants, but would retire to Courland; and, rushing out of the room, would slam the door with violence. After such an outburst the poor Empress has been known to lift her clasped hands to heaven and go into hysterics. For the contumely with which Prince Dolgorucki had treated him at Mittau, he had that prince and his brother broken on the wheel; two others of the family were quartered ; three lost their heads on the scaffold ; the property of the rest was confiscated. Count de Hordt says that daily he shed rivers of innocent blood. His presence inspired so much alarm, that when he rode along the streets the people ran off, exclaiming, “Away! away ! Bieren is coming." Foot-passengers sought cover in the first open door ; while those in carriages jumped out and prostrated themselves before him. Perhaps it is better to flatter a bully than to fight him ; but subserviency was carried too far when foreign ministers gave such a toast as this : “Cursed be he who is not the true and sincere friend of His Highness the Duke of Courland.” He lived in a style of more than royal magnificence, and his imperial mistress was almost a boarder at his table ; she had no table of her own, and used to dine en famille with him. He compelled her to declare him regent during the minority of her successor. The weak, kindly soul, with tears in her eyes, said : “You are running on your destruction," but complied. As Regent, he paid a visit of state to the French Ambassador, and here is the order of procession :-(1) An officer on horseback, (2) Two servants on horseback, (3) Three carriages, drawn by six horses, containing six cavaliers, (4) Twenty-four servants on horseback, (5) Six running footmen, (6) Two blacks, (7) Thirty lackeys on foot, (8) Twelve pages, (9) Nine noblemen, (10) His master of horse, (11) The Duke in a splendid carriage, drawn by six horses, followed by two servants in Turkish dresses. He aspired to seat his own posterity on the throne. His project