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Title: Famous Assassinations of History
Author: Johnson, Francis
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                         Famous Assassinations
                              of History

                     [Illustration: JULIUS CÆSAR]



                         Famous Assassinations
                              of History

                 From Philip of Macedon, 336 B.C., to
                    Alexander of Servia, A.D. 1903

                          BY FRANCIS JOHNSON

                     _WITH TWENTY-NINE PORTRAITS_

                            [Illustration]

                                Chicago
                          A. C. MCCLURG & CO.
                                 1903



                               COPYRIGHT
                          A. C. MCCLURG & CO.
                                 1903

                     Published September 19, 1903

                    UNIVERSITY PRESS · JOHN WILSON
                      AND SON · CAMBRIDGE, U.S.A.



Preface


The thirty-one assassinations, famous in history, which are narrated in
this volume, have never before had their stories told in a collected
form in any language. The accounts of them were scattered through the
historical works of all nations, and through many volumes of private
memoirs, which had to be scanned for proper and trustworthy material. It
is hoped that their presentation in this form will make an interesting
volume, not only for the student of history, but also for the general
reader, on account of the historical and psychological interest which
attaches to them.

These assassinations embrace a period of nearly twenty-five
centuries,--that of Philip of Macedon, in 336 B.C., being the first, and
that of Alexander and Draga, in the present year, being the last. Only
those assassinations have been included which either had an important
and political bearing on the world, or on the nation immediately
affected, or which left a profound, and, it would seem, indelible
impression on the imagination of contemporaries and posterity. All those
which were not distinguished by one of these features were excluded from
this series.

It will undoubtedly occur to some who read this volume that it should
have included the assassination of President Garfield. It was omitted,
not from any want of respect or sympathy for the memory of our
illustrious martyr-President, but simply for the reason that his
assassination rather grew out of the morbid aberration of one diseased
mind than out of the general spirit of the epoch in which he lived.

Others may think that the assassinations of Henry the Third of France,
of Henry of Guise, and of Marshal Coligny, which are certainly famous in
history, should have found a place here. But they all grew out of the
same spirit of religious hatred and conflict in France during the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and Henry the Fourth was selected
as its most illustrious victim.

It has been the object of the writer to make each of these “famous
assassinations” the central scene of a picture in which the political,
religious, or national features of the epoch in which the assassination
occurred are portrayed with historical fidelity and strict impartiality.

F. J.

LAFAYETTE, IND., August 1, 1903.



Contents


CHAPTER I

                                                                    PAGE

ASSASSINATION OF PHILIP OF MACEDON (336 B.C.)                          3


CHAPTER II

ASSASSINATION OF TIBERIUS GRACCHUS (133 B.C.)                         11


CHAPTER III

ASSASSINATION OF JULIUS CÆSAR (44 B.C.)                               25


CHAPTER IV

ASSASSINATIONS OF TIBERIUS, CALIGULA, CLAUDIUS, NERO (A.D. 37-68)     35


CHAPTER V

ASSASSINATION OF HYPATIA (A.D. 415)                                   41


CHAPTER VI

ASSASSINATION OF THOMAS À BECKET (December 29, 1170)                  53


CHAPTER VII

ASSASSINATION OF GESSLER (A.D. 1307)                                  67


CHAPTER VIII

ASSASSINATION OF IÑEZ DE CASTRO (A.D. 1355)                           77


CHAPTER IX

ASSASSINATIONS OF RIZZIO AND DARNLEY
(March 9, 1566; February 9, 1567)                                     89


CHAPTER X

ASSASSINATION OF WILLIAM OF ORANGE (July 10, 1584)                   111


CHAPTER XI

ASSASSINATIONS BY IVAN THE TERRIBLE (1560-1584)                      131


CHAPTER XII

ASSASSINATION OF HENRY THE FOURTH OF FRANCE (May 14, 1610)           147


CHAPTER XIII

ASSASSINATION OF WALLENSTEIN (February 24, 1634)                     165


CHAPTER XIV

ASSASSINATION OF THE BROTHERS JOHN AND CORNELIUS
DE WITT (August 20, 1672)                                            191


CHAPTER XV

ASSASSINATION OF ALEXIS, SON OF PETER THE GREAT (June 26, 1718)      211


CHAPTER XVI

ASSASSINATION OF PETER THE THIRD OF RUSSIA (July 17, 1762)           221


CHAPTER XVII

ASSASSINATION OF GUSTAVUS THE THIRD OF SWEDEN (March 17, 1792)       249


CHAPTER XVIII

ASSASSINATION OF JEAN PAUL MARAT (July 13, 1793)                     283


CHAPTER XIX

ASSASSINATION OF PAUL THE FIRST OF RUSSIA (March 24, 1801)           301


CHAPTER XX

ASSASSINATION OF AUGUST VON KOTZEBUE (March 23, 1819)                315


CHAPTER XXI

ASSASSINATION OF THE DUC DE BERRY (February 13, 1820)                327


CHAPTER XXII

ASSASSINATION OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN (April 14, 1865)                    343


CHAPTER XXIII

ASSASSINATION OF ALEXANDER THE SECOND OF RUSSIA (March 13, 1881)     359


CHAPTER XXIV

ASSASSINATION OF WILLIAM MCKINLEY,
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (September 6, 1901)                   381


CHAPTER XXV

ASSASSINATIONS OF ALEXANDER I. AND DRAGA,
KING AND QUEEN OF SERVIA (June 10-11, 1903)                          399



Illustrations


Julius Cæsar                                               _Frontispiece_

                                                           _To face page_

Philip of Macedon                                                      3

Tiberius Gracchus                                                     11

Caligula                                                              35

Claudius                                                              37

Thomas à Becket                                                       53

Gessler                                                               67

Iñez de Castro                                                        77

David Rizzio                                                          89

Lord Darnley                                                          94

William of Orange                                                    111

Ivan the Terrible                                                    131

Henry IV.                                                            147

Wallenstein                                                          165

John de Witt                                                         191

Cornelius de Witt                                                    205

Alexis                                                               211

Peter III.                                                           221

Gustavus III.                                                        249

Jean Paul Marat                                                      283

Paul I.                                                              301

August von Kotzebue                                                  315

Duc de Berry                                                         327

Abraham Lincoln                                                      343

Alexander II. of Russia                                              359

William McKinley                                                     381

Alexander I. of Servia                                               399

Queen Draga                                                          409



CHAPTER I

PHILIP OF MACEDON

[Illustration: PHILIP OF MACEDON]



Famous Assassinations



CHAPTER I

ASSASSINATION OF PHILIP OF MACEDON

(336 B. C.)


The assassination of Philip of Macedon, which occurred in the year 336
B.C., was one of the most important in ancient history, not only because
it terminated the glorious career of one of the most remarkable men of
his times, but also because it led immediately to the accession of
Alexander, one of the supremely great men of history,--an event which
would very likely not have taken place at all if Philip had continued to
live for a number of years and had himself selected the successor to his
throne. Philip of Macedon was then at the height of his power. The
battle of Chæronea, in 338 B.C., had made him the master of Greece; and
by his tactful and generous treatment of the vanquished he had even been
appointed by the Amphictyon League commander-in-chief of all the Greek
forces, which he intended to lead, at the head of his Macedonian army,
against the Persians, and to conquer their mighty empire. This
stupendous plan, by whose accomplishment Philip would have anticipated
the glorious achievements of Alexander, his son, was frustrated by his
assassination.

While Philip had arranged everything for his descent upon Persia, and
had been frequently absent from home, his domestic affairs in his own
capital, which had never been of a very satisfactory character, took
such an unfavorable turn as to require his personal attention. As a
husband, Philip had often given just cause of complaint to Olympias, his
royal spouse. Wherever he went he formed liaisons, and several
illegitimate children were openly recognized by him as his own. But when
Olympias, the Queen, laid herself open to a suspicion of having violated
her marriage vows in his absence, he repudiated her, charging her with
gross infidelity, and intimating that he had very strong doubts of being
the father of Alexander. Olympias thereupon went back to her native
state, Epirus, accompanied by Alexander, who was highly incensed at the
treatment shown to his mother and himself.

Philip contracted a second marriage with Cleopatra, a niece of Attalus,
one of his generals; and it is said that at the wedding feast Attalus,
half intoxicated, expressed the wish and hope that Cleopatra might give
the Macedonians a lawful heir to the kingdom. This remark, overheard by
Alexander, so enraged him that, throwing a full cup at Attalus’s head,
he shouted to him: “What, you scoundrel! am I then a bastard?” Whereupon
Philip, taking Attalus’s part, rose from his seat, and rushing with his
drawn sword upon Alexander would have run his son through, if he had
not, being himself more than half drunk with wine, slipped and fallen on
the floor; at which sight Alexander scornfully said: “See there the man
who is making great preparations to invade Asia at the head of a
powerful army, and who falls to the ground like a helpless child in
going from one seat to another.”

It is said that after this debauch both Olympias and Alexander retired
from Philip’s capital, the one going to Epirus, and the other to
Illyria. By the counsels and efforts of Demaratus, the Corinthian, an
old friend of the royal family, Philip was, however, induced to send for
Alexander, and the son returned to his father’s court. Soon afterwards,
Cleopatra gave birth to a son; and the fears of Alexander, who remained
in communication with his mother and was filled with jealous rage by
her, revived.

It is more than likely--although absolute proof of it has never been
furnished--that Olympias, in her revengeful jealousy, planned the
assassination of the King who had so cruelly offended her pride as a
woman, and who, she supposed, was also plotting to exclude her own son
from the throne and place upon it the son of her young rival. An
opportunity for this act of revenge soon presented itself. A young
Macedonian, named Pausanias, had been mortally offended by Attalus and
Queen Cleopatra. He appealed to the King for reparation of the wrong
done to him; but this being refused, he resolved to revenge himself by
taking the King’s life. All historians seem to agree that Pausanias was
encouraged and incited to this act of revenge by Olympias; but whether
or not Alexander was cognizant of the murderous plot, and approved it,
has never been satisfactorily explained, and remains one of the unsolved
problems of history.

The occasion for the murderous act of Pausanias was the wedding of
Alexander’s sister with her uncle Alexander, King of Epirus. Philip
considered this marriage between his daughter and the brother of his
first wife, Olympias, an act of consummate statesmanship, inasmuch as it
transferred an enemy and an ally of Olympias to his own side and made a
friend of him. He therefore resolved to make the nuptials of this
ill-matched couple as brilliant as possible. Grand Olympian games and
spectacular festivities were arranged, and an incredible display of
luxury and pomp, unheard of in those days, was planned to show to the
wondering eyes of Greece the court of the new master of the civilized
world in matchless splendor and grandeur. All the cities of Greece had
sent delegations to these brilliant festivities; most of them came with
costly wedding presents, among which golden crowns were conspicuous.
Poets sent nuptial hymns and poems celebrating the beauty of the bride
and the genius of the father in the most extravagant terms; and a noted
dramatist of that age, Neoptolemus, composed a tragedy for the occasion,
in which Philip, under a fictitious name, was represented as the
conqueror of Asia and the triumphant vanquisher of the great Darius.

It was at the theatre, in which this tragedy was to be performed, that
Philip met his doom. Accompanied by a brilliant cortège of all that were
renowned at his court for birth, talent, and wealth, he proceeded to the
theatre. On approaching the entrance, he bade the noblemen surrounding
him to advance, and his body-guard to fall back, so that he might be
personally more conspicuous before the enraptured eyes of his subjects.
The procession was led by priests in white robes, each carrying a statue
of one of the twelve principal gods; and a thirteenth statue, even more
richly draped and ornamented than the others, with the insignia of
divinity upon it, was that of Philip himself.

It was the supreme moment of his pride and happiness; but it was also
his last. The noblemen and courtiers had already disappeared in the
building. The body-guard, obedient to the King’s orders, remained
behind. Just at the moment when the King stepped forward, alone, under
the gateway of the theatre, a man sprang from a side corridor, thrust a
sharp short sword into his side, and hurried off as the royal victim
reeled and fell. In the tremendous confusion which arose, the assassin
came very near making his escape. He ran toward a swift horse which was
kept in readiness for him by friends who evidently knew of the murder
and were in the plot; and, dazed as the people were who witnessed the
assassination, he would probably have escaped, had not his sandal caught
in a vine-stock and caused him to fall, which gave some of his pursuers
time to lay their hands on him before he could get up. In their rage,
they killed him with their spears and tore him to pieces.

The surroundings and execution of this plot bear a strong resemblance to
the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. In both cases there was an
individual murderer, the scene was a theatre, the act was done with
incredible audacity in the presence of a large concourse of people, and
the murderer was crippled by a misstep after the fatal blow.

The assassination of Philip of Macedon was not only one of the boldest
and most dramatic in history, but it was also one of the earliest in
point of time.



CHAPTER II

TIBERIUS GRACCHUS

[Illustration: TIBERIUS GRACCHUS]



CHAPTER II

ASSASSINATION OF TIBERIUS GRACCHUS

(133 B. C.)


In the history of ancient Rome there occurs one political assassination
which stands out as an event of special significance, not only on
account of the great celebrity of the victim, but also owing to the fact
that it is the first occasion on record in which the conflicting
economical interests of different classes in a republic were settled by
a resort to arms, instead of being adjudicated on principles of equity
and justice, or simply by public authority.

This great historical event was the murder of Tiberius Gracchus, which
was soon followed by the forced suicide of his brother, Caius
Gracchus,--the immediate result of their attempt to enforce an agrarian
law passed as an act of justice to the poorer classes of Roman citizens.
The law was violently opposed by the rich, who organized an armed
revolution against its originators and were powerful enough to do away
with them.

There is in the whole conflict about that agrarian law (the so-called
Sempronian law) a modern feature which makes it especially interesting
to Americans at a time when party issues turn largely on economical
questions, and when the antagonism between capital and labor (or the
rich and the poor) threatens to enter the acute stage. It will be
noticed that at that early age (more than two thousand years ago)
capital already had a power and commanded a political influence against
which right and justice, allied to poverty, battled in vain. History,
both ancient and modern, has been written largely in conformity with the
ideas and prejudices of the ruling classes, and in praise of them, while
their enemies and opponents have generally been unjustly criticised and
denounced as disturbers of public order and peace, or even as anarchists
and rebels against public authority. The two illustrious brothers, the
Gracchi, have shared this unjust treatment of historians, and in the
estimation of many, pass to-day as dangerous and seditious characters
whose death alone could have saved Rome from greater calamities. An
impartial investigation of their case will, in our opinion, furnish
sufficient proof to reverse this historical judgment.

The two Gracchi were the sons of Sempronius Gracchus, the famous Roman
tribune, who won distinction by his great independence and ability in
the administration of his office, and of the equally famous Cornelia,
daughter of Cornelius Scipio Africanus, the renowned vanquisher of
Hannibal. The brothers, so closely united and so much alike in political
sentiments, designs, and efforts, were of different character,
temperament, and appearance. Tiberius, who was nine years older than his
brother, was gentle and mild in conduct; and his countenance, his eyes,
and his gestures were of peculiar and winning gentleness. His brother
Caius was animated, vehement, and high-tempered. His eloquence was
distinguished by the same characteristics, while that of Tiberius was
tactful, persuasive, and conciliatory. Tiberius would have made an
ideal preacher; Caius seemed to be predestined for the part of a popular
advocate and orator.

Tiberius had seen military service and won distinction both by his
bravery and prudence in Spain as aid to his brother-in-law, Scipio
Æmilianus, who was the commander-in-chief. It was, therefore, not his
illustrious birth alone, but individual merit also, which caused him to
be elected tribune of the people in the year 133 B.C. As such he
introduced a bill for the re-apportionment of the public lands and their
distribution among the poorer citizens of Rome. Various explanations
have been given for this action of Tiberius Gracchus. It has been said
that he was instigated by others to introduce a measure which could not
fail to arouse against him the strongest hostility of the rich
proprietors of some of these lands. But from a statement in writing left
by his brother Caius, it appears that the idea of the bill originated
with Tiberius himself, and that its introduction sprang much more from a
noble and generous impulse than from political ambition.

Even to-day the traveller who traverses the silent and depopulated
desert of the Roman Campagna, which is owned by a limited number of
large proprietors and is left in an almost uncultivated state, is struck
forcibly with the thought that the unwise and unjust distribution of the
land has had much to do with the desolate and unproductive aspect of
this district, which under judicious and scientific cultivation might
yield rich harvests and contribute materially to the welfare of the
inhabitants of Tuscany. The same thought struck Tiberius Gracchus as, on
his departure for Spain, he travelled through Tuscany and found it
almost a desert, or, at best, only rudely cultivated in some parts by
barbarian and imported slaves. It was at that time that he first
conceived the idea of bringing about a change--an idea which continued
to haunt his mind until he was in a position to realize it. And in doing
so he found a precedent for legislative action.

There already existed a law at Rome--the so-called Licinian law--which
limited the number of acres to be possessed by any one citizen to five
hundred. But this Licinian law had been a dead letter for many years,
and there were many rich citizens in Rome who counted the number of
their acres by the thousand or even ten thousand. It was this violation
of the Licinian law, and the open injustice done to the poor by this
violation, which Tiberius Gracchus wanted to correct. He therefore
introduced a new agrarian law which aimed to revive the Licinian law,
but at the same time greatly modified and attenuated its provisions. The
change in the law which Tiberius Gracchus proposed was in one respect an
act of injustice, because it put a premium on the violation of the law
as it had existed, instead of punishing that violation by imposing an
adequate fine. Under the new law a citizen might hold 500 acres of the
public lands in his own name, and in addition, 250 acres for each son
still under the paternal roof and authority. Moreover, the new law
provided that, whenever a citizen should be compelled to give up land
which he held in excess of the share which the law allowed him, he
should be reimbursed for this loss, at the appraised value, from the
public treasury. Tiberius Gracchus also favored the immediate
distribution of the confiscated lands among the poor as their absolute
property, and proposed that, whenever a Roman colony was founded on
conquered territory, a similar distribution of the newly acquired land
should be made.

The new law was enthusiastically applauded by the Roman people, even
before it had been legally adopted; but the Senate most violently
opposed it, because many Senators would have been deprived by its
passage of most valuable lands. In order to defeat it they prevailed
upon one of the ten tribunes to object to the third reading of the law.
The unanimous support of the tribunes was necessary for its passage.
When the day for the public vote on the law had come, an immense
multitude of people was assembled at the Forum. The ten tribunes entered
and took their seats on the platform. Tiberius Gracchus arose and
ordered the clerk to read his law, but was immediately interrupted by
Octavius, who ordered him to stop. The interruption caused an immense
sensation and commotion among the spectators. Tiberius, after having
vainly tried to persuade Octavius to withdraw his objection, adjourned
the meeting to a later day. During this interval he used all his power
of persuasion to overcome the resistance of Octavius, but in vain. It
was then that Tiberius Gracchus, in his intense desire to pass a public
measure which he considered highly beneficial to the people and almost
indispensable to the public welfare, resolved to resort to an expedient
which was really unconstitutional and which is the only public act of
his that gives the least foundation to the charge of sedition so
generally preferred against him. He came to the conclusion that the only
way to overcome the veto of Octavius was to depose him from his office
by a popular vote. This was a clear violation of the Constitution, and
he carried out his intention in spite of the loud protests of the
Senate.

The scene on the Forum in which Octavius was deposed must have been very
pathetic and impressive; and while it signified an immediate victory for
Tiberius Gracchus, it nevertheless incensed a great many Roman citizens
and turned them against him. It is safe to say that this scene sealed
his doom and furnished the principal reason for his assassination.
Plutarch, a reliable and impartial authority, describes the scene as
follows:

     “When the people were met together again, Tiberius placed himself
     in the rostra and endeavored a second time to persuade Octavius.
     But all being to no purpose, he referred the whole matter to the
     people, calling on them to vote at once whether Octavius should be
     deposed or not; and when seventeen of the thirty-five tribes had
     already voted against him, and there wanted only the vote of one
     tribe more for his final deprivation, Tiberius put a short stop to
     the proceedings, and once more renewed his importunities; he
     embraced and kissed him before all the assembly, begging with all
     the earnestness imaginable that he would neither suffer himself to
     incur the dishonor, nor him to be reputed the author and promoter
     of so odious a measure. Octavius did seem a little softened and
     moved with these entreaties; his eyes filled with tears and he
     continued silent for a considerable time. But presently looking
     toward the rich men and proprietors of estates, who stood gathered
     in a body together, partly for shame, and partly for fear of
     disgracing himself with them, he boldly bade Tiberius use any
     severity he pleased. The law for his deposition being thus voted,
     Tiberius ordered one of his servants, whom he had made a freeman,
     to remove Octavius from the rostra, employing his own domestic
     freed servants instead of the public officers. And it made the
     action seem all the sadder that Octavius was dragged out in such an
     ignominious manner. The people immediately assaulted him, while the
     rich men ran in to his assistance. Octavius, with some difficulty,
     was snatched away, and safely conveyed out of the crowd; though a
     trusty servant of his, who had placed himself in front of his
     master that he might assist his escape, in keeping off the
     multitude, had his eyes struck out, much to the displeasure of
     Tiberius, who ran with all haste, when he perceived the
     disturbance, to appease the rioters.”

The law was then passed, and commissioners were immediately appointed to
make a survey of the lands and see that they were equally divided.

The forcible ejection of Octavius and the subsequent passage of the new
agrarian law opened a chasm between Tiberius Gracchus and the
patricians, which nothing but his death could close up. He had made
himself immensely popular with the poor, and other laws which he
introduced increased that popularity. But the more the poor idolized
him, the more the rich hated and abhorred him; and a large number of the
better and more thoughtful class of plebeians resented his bold
violation of the Constitution in removing Octavius from office.

Such were the conditions when the time for the expiration of his
official term as tribune approached, and he as well as his friends saw
the necessity for his reëlection as a measure for protecting his life.
He therefore appeared as a candidate for reëlection; and when on the
first day of the election no choice had resulted from the vote, the next
day was appointed for the final decision. Tiberius knew that not only
his political career, but his very life depended on the result, and he
therefore left no stone unturned to rally his friends to the rescue. But
unfortunately, it being harvest time, many of his adherents were absent
from the city, and could not be reached in time for the struggle.

On the day following, the Senate convened at an early hour, while the
people assembled at the Capitol to proceed with the vote. However,
great confusion prevailed, and a large number of outsiders tried to
force their way in and establish themselves among the voters. And even
the appearance of Tiberius Gracchus, although he was received with loud
acclamations, failed to restore order in the assemblage. Moreover, he
showed by the depression in his countenance and conduct that he had lost
confidence in the success of his cause. Several evil omens which he had
encountered on his way to the Capitol disturbed his mind. At daybreak a
soothsayer, who prognosticated good or bad success by the pecking of
fowls, informed him that all his efforts to induce the fowls to eat had
failed. Tiberius then remembered that, a short time before, two serpents
had been found in his helmet. On stepping out of the house he stumbled
on the threshold and hurt his great toe so badly that it bled profusely.
As he walked through the streets he saw on his left hand two ravens
fighting on the roof of a house, and suddenly a stone, detached from the
roof, fell at his feet. The friends of Gracchus, who surrounded him, all
stopped, and he himself hesitated as to whether he should proceed or
return to his house. However, a philosopher from Cuma, one of his
intimates, who was credited with inspiring Gracchus with his democratic
ideas and who was free from the superstition of the Romans, persuaded
him to continue on his way to the Capitol.

There the voting of the tribes was proceeding with great noise and
confusion. All at once Gracchus noticed that one of his friends, Lucius
Flaccus, a Senator, had mounted an elevation from which he could be
easily seen, but where he was too far off to be heard, and was
indicating by motions of his hand that he wished to communicate some
important news. Tiberius told the crowd to let Flaccus pass. With great
difficulty the Senator reached Tiberius and informed him that at the
session of the Senate, after the Consul had refused to have him
arrested, a resolution had been passed to kill him, and that the
Senators had armed a large number of their clients and slaves to carry
out this purpose. Tiberius immediately informed the friends who
surrounded him of the action of the Senate, and signified to those at a
greater distance the danger in which he was placed, by raising his hands
to his head,--and it was this motion, entirely innocent in itself, which
hastened his ruin. His enemies construed it as a desire on his part to
wear a crown, and carried this ridiculous news to the Senate chamber. It
caused a perfect explosion of maledictions and threats among the
Senators; and Scipio Nasica, the most violent of all, immediately made a
motion that the Consul be instructed to save the Republic and to
exterminate the would-be tyrant. The Consul replied that he would resist
any factious and criminal attempt against the Republic, but that he
would not put to death a Roman citizen without trial. On this Scipio
Nasica turned to the Senators, exclaiming: “Since the Consul betrays the
city, let those who want to defend the laws follow me!” and followed by
a large number of Senators and their clients, he rushed toward the place
where Tiberius Gracchus, surrounded by his friends, was observing the
progress of the election. Immediately a riot and fight ensued. The
Senators, who were armed with clubs, canes, stones, or whatever weapon
they could lay their hands on, rushed upon the crowd of voters,
overthrew, beat, and killed them, stamping them under their feet and
quickly and irresistibly advancing toward the spot where they beheld
the man who was the object of their rage and bloodthirstiness. Tiberius,
unarmed and forsaken by his friends, turned round to seek safety in
flight, but, stumbling over those who had been knocked down, fell to the
ground. It was at that moment, while Tiberius was trying to get on his
feet again, that one of his own colleagues, a tribune of the people,
dealt him a powerful and fatal blow, striking him on the head with the
leg of a stool. Others rushed up and struck him again and again, but it
was only a lifeless corpse which suffered from their abuse. Three
hundred of his friends had fallen with him. It was the first Roman blood
which had been shed in civil war, and this first conflict deprived Rome
of one of its most illustrious citizens.

It is unnecessary to go into any details regarding the death of Caius
Gracchus, who took up and continued the work of his brother. To the
measures in favor of the poor which had been advocated by Tiberius, he
added others,--for instance, regular distributions of corn among the
poor at half price, the imposition of new taxes upon articles of luxury
imported from foreign countries, and employment on public works for
mechanics and laborers who could not find employment on private
contract. It will be seen that these measures, as well as some other
projects of minor importance which Caius Gracchus advocated and caused
to be enacted as laws, form part of the platform of modern labor
parties, and that the Gracchi can fitly be designated as the founders of
these parties. They both fell victims to the attempt to carry out their
theories. At first, it would seem, Caius Gracchus at the request of his
mother, was inclined to abandon the projects of Tiberius; but one night,
says Cicero in his book _De Divinatione_, he heard Tiberius saying to
him: “Why hesitate, Caius? Thy destiny shall be the same as mine--to
fight for the people, and to die for them.” It is said that this
prophecy determined him in his course, and that his death was the
consequence. In 121 B.C., during a public riot and conflict organized by
his enemies for his destruction, he committed suicide, dying not by his
own hand, but by commanding his slave to stab him,--an order which was
promptly obeyed. The assassination of the one and the forced suicide of
the other immortalized the two brothers.



CHAPTER III

JULIUS CÆSAR



CHAPTER III

ASSASSINATION OF JULIUS CÆSAR

(44 B. C.)


Americans are not great students of history, especially ancient history.
Very likely the assassination of Julius Cæsar, one of the most important
events in the history of ancient Rome, would also be among the “things
not generally known” among Americans, had not Shakespeare’s great
tragedy made them familiar with it. It is true, the aims of the
dramatist and of the historian are wide-apart. The dramatist places the
hero in the centre of the plot, and causes every part of it to
contribute to the catastrophe which overwhelms him under the decree of
fate. He is the victim of his own guilt. The historian makes the great
man but one of the principal factors in the evolution of events, and if
a Cæsar or a Napoleon succumbs in the struggle, it is by force of
external circumstances against which his genius is powerless to contend,
although his ambition or his passion may have been the dominant cause of
arraying those circumstances against him. By his matchless genius and
incomparable art, Shakespeare has, to a certain degree, in his “Julius
Cæsar,” solved the difficult problem of combining the task of the
dramatic poet with that of the historian, and has placed before the
spectator not only Cæsar himself with his world-wide and imperialistic
ambition as the central figure of the play, but also Rome with its
republican recollections and aspirations in antagonism to Cæsar’s
ambition. The delineation of the character of the foremost man of the
ancient world by the greatest dramatist of modern times, and his skilful
grouping of the great republicans struggling for the maintenance of
republican institutions, have been so indelibly engraved upon the minds
of modern readers that the assassination of Julius Cæsar, which took
place at Rome 44 B.C., is nearly as familiar to them as the
assassination of Abraham Lincoln. And if we, in this series of Famous
Assassinations in History, devote a chapter to it, it is simply for the
reason that the series would be incomplete without it. Moreover, it may
be both interesting and useful to call to the mind of the reader the
circumstances and surroundings which led to the downfall of Cæsar. The
conspiracy and assassination removed from the scene of action the
master-mind of the age, without saving the republican institutions; and
it is only by explaining the causes that we can do justice to the noble
intentions of the conspirators, while lamenting the assassination of
Cæsar as a public misfortune for Rome, inasmuch as it removed the strong
hand that could have prevented the anarchy and civil war which broke out
among his successors, immediately after his disappearance from the
public stage.

Cæsar was at the height of his power. His achievements had eclipsed the
military glory of Pompey, and by his wonderful career he might truly be
looked upon as the “man of destiny.” On his return from Gaul, when the
Senate had rejected his request for a prolongation of his command, and
had ordered him to disband his army and to give up the administration of
his province, his popularity was so great that his homeward journey,
escorted as he was by his victorious army, was but a continuous
triumphal march. Not only Rome, but all Italy welcomed him home as its
greatest man, and was ready to heap its greatest, nay even divine honors
upon him.

The Senate and its chosen commander-in-chief, Pompey, had fled on the
approach of Cæsar. In the decisive battle of Pharsalus Cæsar defeated
Pompey, and by this victory became the sole ruler of the Roman Republic.
Pompey was assassinated on landing in Egypt, as a fugitive, and Cæsar
returned to Rome, where he was received with the tumultuous acclamations
of the people, and conducted to the Capitol as the savior of the
country. The Senate, which had just made war upon him and outlawed him
as an enemy of the fatherland, appointed him dictator for ten years with
absolute and supreme power, gave him a body-guard of seventy-two lictors
to proclaim his majesty and inviolability, and ordered his statue to be
placed beside that of Jupiter on the Capitol. A public thanksgiving
festival, continuing for forty days, was proclaimed, and four brilliant
triumphs for his victories in Gaul, Egypt, Pontus, and Africa, were
accorded to him.

Never before in the history of Rome had such honors, which seemed to
pass the human limit, been conferred on any Roman citizen. It was
evident that of the Republic nothing but the name remained, and that
Cæsar, the dictator, was in fact the absolute monarch of the immense
Empire. Once more the friends of liberty made an effort to shake off
the yoke which Cæsar had imposed on the Republic. They flocked to the
standards of the sons of Pompey, but the bloody and hard-fought battle
of Munda sealed their fate; and Cæsar, again victorious, remained the
absolute master of the civilized world,--not without an enemy, but
certainly without a rival.

On his return to Rome new honors and new ovations awaited him. The
dignity and pride of Roman citizenship seemed to have been lost entirely
in the crouching servility with which the most distinguished and most
highly stationed citizens prostrated themselves at the feet of the
all-powerful ruler. Resistance to Cæsar had apparently disappeared. All
bowed to his surpassing genius and ability, and to these qualities he
added acts of clemency, kindness, and gentleness, which won him the
hearts even of those who, from political principle, had opposed him. But
while thus openly the more than imperial power of Cæsar was generally
recognized, and while the Senate and the tribunes had been degraded to
the position of mere tools to his autocratic will, there still remained
in the hearts of a number of high-minded patriots the hope and anxious
desire to save the republican form of government from the grasping
ambition of the conqueror, who was evidently not satisfied with being
Imperator in fact, but wanted to be also Imperator in name. At least the
repeated attempts of the most intimate friends and most trusted
lieutenants of Cæsar to induce him to accept the crown at the hands of a
subservient people, and his rather hesitating conduct in refusing these
proposals, seemed to confirm this suspicion.

These enthusiastic Republicans cautiously disguised their hostility to
the Imperator under the mask of devoted friendship. Their hope was,
perhaps, that Cæsar’s imperial régime would be but temporary and that,
like Sulla, he would sooner or later get tired of his dictatorship, and
resign his imperial honors. But Cæsar did not think of abdicating the
honors he had won; on the contrary, every act and every public utterance
of his indicated that he wished to prolong and augment them rather than
to abandon them. In public he was anxious to show his preëminence. He
appeared dressed in the costume of the kings of Alba, and with royal
insignia. One day, when the entire Senate waited upon him in front of
the temple of Venus, he remained seated while he was addressed, during
the entire ceremony. His statue at the Capitol was placed beside those
of the ancient kings of Rome, as though he were to continue their line.
New titles of honor, not to say worship, were added to those which had
been conferred upon him at the first moment of his brilliant victories,
and his lieutenants and followers welcomed and adopted them as something
that was due to his superhuman wisdom and greatness. He was called not
only “Father of the Country,” but “Demi-God,” the “Invincible God,”
“Jupiter Julius,”--as though Jupiter himself had taken mortal form and
shape in him.

This public adoration irritated the Republicans we have mentioned, to
the highest degree. They secretly charged Cæsar with encouraging or
instigating this worship of himself, because they knew that his friends
would not have proposed it unless confident that he would be pleased by
it. Brutus and Cassius were at the head of these Republicans. Brutus, a
stern Republican, a Roman in the noblest acceptation of the word, was
reputed to be Cæsar’s son, the offspring of an adulterous love-affair,
and was openly favored and distinguished by him. Cassius, a
distinguished general, was much more prompted by jealousy and envy than
by civic virtue and republican principle. When these two men and their
friends became thoroughly convinced that Cæsar’s ambition would stop at
nothing, and that the new imperialistic régime was to be permanent, they
came to the conclusion that nothing but Cæsar’s death could prevent
these calamities. They therefore resolved to assassinate him.

The ides of March (the fifteenth day of the month) in the year 44 B.C.,
was selected as the day of the assassination. The conspiracy had been
formed with the greatest secrecy, but it came near failing at the
eleventh hour. Cæsar’s wife had had dreams and presentiments of bad
omen, and she persuaded him not to go to the Senate on that day. Very
reluctantly he consented to remain at home. But Decimus Brutus, one of
the conspirators, who was afraid that the postponement of the
assassination might lead to its discovery, went to Cæsar’s residence,
ridiculed the dreams of a timid woman, and said he could not believe
that they would influence the mind of the great Cæsar. Then Cæsar, half
ashamed at having yielded to his wife’s entreaties, accompanied him. On
his way to the Senate a paper was handed to Cæsar, which gave all the
particulars of the conspiracy, and warned him not to go to the Senate
session on the fifteenth of March, because it was the day set for his
assassination. But Cæsar kept the paper in his hand without reading it.
Under various pretexts, all the particular friends of Cæsar had been
kept from attending the session of the Senate, so that when he arrived,
he was surrounded only by enemies or by those who were not considered
his friends. The conspirators acted promptly. Cæsar was defenceless,
and in a few minutes he lay prostrate,--a lifeless corpse, showing
thirty-five wounds, many of which were absolutely fatal. The most
celebrated of all political assassinations had been successful; and by a
peculiar irony of fate, the dying Cæsar fell at the feet of the statue
of Pompey, his great rival, whom he had vanquished at Pharsalus. His
death did not, as the conspirators had hoped, prevent the establishment
of the Empire; it but delayed it for a few years.

Cæsar has had many worshippers and admirers, and comparatively few
calumniators and belittlers. Unquestionably he was one of the most
extraordinary geniuses that ever lived, equally great as a general and
as a statesman, as an orator and as a historian. In the whole range of
history there is but one man--Napoleon--who, in the vastness of his
conceptions and the masterly perfection of their execution, can be
justly compared with him. All other men whom national vanity has
occasionally placed by Cæsar’s side only suffer from the comparison;
their immense inferiority appears on even superficial investigation. He
was in fact the foremost man the world had seen to his day, and, but for
his equally great rival in modern times, would still occupy the pinnacle
of human greatness alone. Very likely, if he had lived, Rome would have
been the happier.



CHAPTER IV

TIBERIUS, CALIGULA, CLAUDIUS, NERO

[Illustration: CALIGULA]



CHAPTER IV

ASSASSINATIONS OF TIBERIUS, CALIGULA, CLAUDIUS, NERO

(A. D. 37-68.)


At the time of the assassination of Julius Cæsar, the Roman people, and
especially the higher classes, had reached a degree of perversity and
degeneracy which appears to the modern reader almost incredible. They
had become utterly unfit for self-government. The most atrocious public
and private vices in both sexes had taken the place of the civic virtues
and the private honor for which the ancient Roman had been famous the
world over. In public life, corruption, venality, and bribery were
general; a public office-holder was synonymous with a robber of the
public treasury. Nepotism prevailed to an alarming degree, and the
ablest men were unceremoniously pushed aside for the incapable
descendants of the nobility. In times like those, only the very
strongest hand and the sternest character and mind can restrain the
masses from falling into anarchy and civil war, and impose on society
moderation and the rule of law.

The assassination of Cæsar had a most demoralizing effect on the Roman
people. The hand of the master who might have controlled the unruly
masses and restrained the degenerate nobility lay palsied in death; the
giant intellect, which had embraced the civilized world in its dream of
establishing a universal monarchy, thought no more; and the results were
chaos, anarchy, and civil war. The absence of the master mind was
lamentably felt; his heirs were unable to control the wild elements
which the assassins had set free; and for many years, rapine, bloodshed,
murder, and spoliation ruled supreme throughout the vast extent of the
Roman Republic, until finally, in the year 30 B.C., Octavianus Augustus,
Cæsar’s nephew, succeeded in establishing that imperium of which Cæsar
had dreamed, and for which his genius and his victories had paved the
way.

The imperial era, beginning with a display of magnificence and splendor,
both in military achievements and literary production, soon degenerated
into an era of crime, which, at least in the highest classes of society,
has never been equalled in history. Its worst feature was, perhaps, the
utter degradation and depravity of the women even of the highest
classes, and their readiness to sacrifice everything--chastity, shame,
name, and reputation--to the gratification of their passions. Soon the
women excelled the men in assassinating, by poison or dagger, their
victims or rivals. Augustus, the first Emperor, showed on the throne
much less cruelty than he had manifested as a triumvir; but Livia
Drusilla, his third wife, was the first of those female monsters on the
throne of the Cæsars--Livia, Agrippina, Messalina, Domitia--who never
shrank from murder, if by blood or poison they could rid themselves of a
rival or of an obstacle to their criminal ambition. Livia, who wished
Tiberius, her son by a former marriage, to be the successor of Augustus
on the imperial throne, caused Marcellus (the

[Illustration: CLAUDIUS]

husband of Julia, daughter of Augustus), and also Julia’s two sons, to
be poisoned; and by these crimes secured the succession for Tiberius.
She is also suspected of having poisoned Augustus himself.

Tiberius, the second of the Roman Emperors, lives immortal in history
rather by his crimes than by his valorous deeds. So does Caligula, the
third, and Claudius, the fourth, and Nero, the fifth Emperor,--who were
all assassinated after comparatively short reigns, but who had exhausted
all forms of cruelty and crime; while their wives, Messalina, Agrippina,
and Poppæa will live in history forever as the unrivalled types of
female depravity. Above all, Messalina, the wife of Claudius, who ruled
from the year 41 to the year 54 of the Christian era, became notorious
for every species of vice. In her libidinous and voluptuous excesses, as
well as in the demoniacal conception of her murderous plots against her
enemies, she was easily first and foremost,--the real empress of the
vicious and fallen women of Rome: she became their open rival in the
houses of ill-fame in her capital, she contended with them for the palm
of obscenity and prostitution, and vanquished them all.

Unless the great historians of Rome had recorded these excesses as facts
abundantly substantiated by irrefutable testimony, the reports would
have been relegated to the domain of fable, because they are too
revolting to be believed without sufficient authority. Can the human
mind conceive, for instance, an act of greater criminal insolence than
that which the Empress Messalina committed by marrying, publicly and
under the very eyes of the capital, a young Roman aristocrat, Caius
Silius, for whom she was inflamed with an adulterous passion, while her
husband, the Emperor, was but a few miles away at Ostia? And yet
Tacitus, a stern and truthful historian, records this as an undeniable
fact, adding that future generations will be loath to believe it.

When, in the year 68 A.D., Nero expired by the dagger of a freedman,
courage having failed him to commit suicide, the family of Cæsar the
Great became extinct, even in its adopted members. Only one hundred and
twelve years had elapsed since the greatest of the Romans had fallen by
the daggers of the Republican conspirators; but that short period had
sufficed to subvert the Republic and to erect a despotic Empire on its
ruins, to flood the vast territory of Rome, which embraced the entire
civilized world, with streams of blood, to place imbeciles and assassins
on the throne of the Cæsars, and to adorn the brows of courtesans and
prostitutes, their partners in crime and depravity, with the imperial
diadem. Never before in human history had human depravity and human lust
displayed themselves more shamelessly; never before had the beast in man
shown its innate cruelty so boldly and so openly as during the reigns of
these five Roman Emperors. It is almost a consolation for the sorrowing
mind to read that Tiberius was choked to death; that Caligula was beaten
down and stabbed; that Claudius was killed by a dish of poisonous
mushrooms; and that Nero, the last of Cæsar’s dynasty, was helped to his
untimely death by the poniard of a freedman. Quick assassination was all
too light a punishment for these monsters of iniquity who had so often
feasted their eyes on the tortures of their innocent victims.



CHAPTER V

HYPATIA



CHAPTER V

ASSASSINATION OF HYPATIA

(A. D. 415.)


Never, perhaps, did the wonderful genius of Alexander the Great appear
to better advantage than when he selected Alexandria as a commercial
centre and distributing point for the products of three continents, and
as an intellectual focus from which Hellenic culture should be
transmitted to those countries of Asia and Africa which his victories
had opened to Greek civilization. The rapidity with which the city--to
which Alexander had given his own name--grew to the dimensions of a
great capital and a world-emporium, proved the sagacity and ingenious
foresight of its founder, and was unrivalled among all the cities of the
ancient world. It became the greatest seaport of the world, surpassing
in the grandeur and magnificence of its buildings every other city
except Rome itself; and when, through the genius of the Ptolemies, the
successors of Alexander as rulers of Egypt, the great library was added
to its monuments and treasures of art, it became also the intellectual
capital of the world, rivalling and in some respects eclipsing the city
of the Cæsars. It is true, long before Alexandria had reached its
greatest prosperity, the creative power of Hellenic genius in the higher
spheres of poetry and philosophy had passed its zenith. In the
so-called Alexandrian age of literature the most beautiful and most
poetical inspirations were the idyls of Theocritus. But Alexandria was
the first city in the ancient world which became the seat of a
many-sided, methodical scholarship, and of systematic, zealous studies
of the exact sciences,--a university in the modern sense. It also became
the great library city of the world.

It is true, the great library of inestimable value collected by Ptolemy
Philadelphus (who also purchased the large library of Aristoteles) had
been ruthlessly destroyed in the Alexandrian war of Julius Cæsar. But
Ptolemy Physcon collected a second valuable library, which was augmented
by the splendid library of King Eumenes of Pergamus, and formed by far
the grandest collection of books to be found in the world. Mark Antony
gave this splendid library to Queen Cleopatra. It comprised the
intellectual treasures of the ancient world, and was placed in a wing of
the Serapeum,--in that gigantic and magnificent building which was the
grandest temple of ancient Egypt and the pride of Alexandria. The great
city of the Ptolemies, with a population of nearly a million souls, had
also become a sort of neutral territory upon which all religions could
meet on equal terms. The cosmopolitan character of this great commercial
centre, in which Christians, Jews, and pagans of all countries competed
for the acquisition of wealth, made it natural for all these different
citizens to live in harmony and mutual toleration. The time came,
however, when Christianity was proclaimed the official state religion
under Theodosius the Great, upon whose instigation or order the Roman
Senate (not by a unanimous, but by a simple majority vote) passed a
resolution declaring that the Christian religion should be the only true
religion for the Roman Empire. This official declaration became the
signal for a brutal persecution of the old religion throughout the
Empire, and especially in its eastern provinces. Very prominent in this
work of persecution and destruction was Theophilus, Archbishop of
Alexandria, who was famous far and wide as one of the great lights of
the Church and as a man of exceptional piety, although many of his
actions are utterly inexcusable from a moral point of view. Theophilus
was in constant warfare with the pagans and Jews of Alexandria, who
quite often joined hands in fighting him. But, as a rule, they were
defeated by the pugnacious prelate, who, on such occasions, always found
at his command a formidable army composed of the mob of the city and of
the monks of the desert of Nitria, which was near the city. The main
object of Theophilus’s attacks was the great Serapeum, in which immense
treasures of gold, silver, and sacred vessels were stored away, and
which contained also the great collection of books,--a perfect armory of
pagan philosophy, religion, and poetry,--which was especially obnoxious
to him. By shrewdly misrepresenting the spirit of revolt among the Jews
and pagans of the city, he succeeded in getting an edict from the
Emperor authorizing him to destroy this temple of ancient wisdom and
culture,--and, for the second time, the magnificent library of
Alexandria was partly destroyed, partly scattered to the winds.

The audacity of Theophilus had inflicted terrible defeats on the
non-Christian population of Alexandria, and had utterly disheartened it.
On the other hand, the Christian inhabitants showed by their increasing
arrogance that they were conscious of the supremacy of their church and
of the exclusive protection to which their religion entitled them.
However, in spite of this cruel discrimination there still remained at
Alexandria a large and intelligent element true to the old religion, or
rather to the old philosophy.

Theophilus died in the year 412 A.D., and was succeeded by his nephew
Kyrillos, better known as St. Cyril, who continued the vindictive policy
against the Jews and pagans which his uncle had inaugurated. It was not
long before Cyril had fanaticized the mob against the Jews to such an
extent that the latter, driven to despair, took up arms against their
aggressors, who had undertaken a regular crusade against their lives and
property. Pitched battles and massacres took place in the streets of
Alexandria. Hundreds of the unfortunate Jews were slain, and very likely
the Jewish population would have been entirely exterminated or expelled
from the city, had not Orestes, the imperial governor, interfered in
their behalf, and defeated the infuriated mob and the monks of Nitria,
who as usual had taken a hand in the fight. But it was a long and
stubbornly contested battle. Although Cyril personally did not show
himself, it was nevertheless well known that he directed the attacks
against the Jews from his hiding-place. Moreover all his most intimate
friends actively participated in the riot and strenuously resisted the
efforts of the governor to restore peace.

One of these friends personally assaulted and seriously wounded the
governor. After the revolt had been quelled, this man was put on trial
and sentenced to death. In vain Cyril appealed for mercy and tried to
save the life of the accused man. Orestes was implacable, and the
condemned man was executed. The disdain with which he had been treated
by the governor, enraged the prelate and stimulated him to revenge. A
large procession of priests and citizens took the body of the criminal
from the gibbet and carried it to the principal church of Alexandria,
where the Archbishop read high mass and delivered a sermon full of
admiration and eulogy for the victim, filling the hearts of the
congregation with hatred and contempt for the authorities, and invoking
the punishment of Heaven upon their heads. But even this public
demonstration did not satisfy the Archbishop; and with consummate
cruelty he hit upon a plan for deeply wounding the governor without
attacking him personally.

At that time there lived at Alexandria a young lady of great talent and
renown. Her name was Hypatia. She was the daughter of Theon, a
celebrated mathematician who lived at Alexandria, and whose genius for
mathematics she seemed to have inherited. She first became his pupil,
but soon surpassed him in ability and reputation. She also applied
herself with great zeal and rare penetration to the study of the
philosophy of Plato, whom she greatly admired and much preferred to
Aristotle. Since Alexandria had no professors superior to herself in
attainments and learning, Hypatia went to Greece and for several years
attended the lectures of the most famous professors of Athens. She then
returned to Alexandria, and was immediately invited by the authorities
to the chair of philosophy in the University. Hypatia accepted this
honor and filled the position with brilliant success. It was not only
her profound and extensive learning, embracing the entire compass of
the exact sciences, but also the charm of her persuasive and mellifluous
eloquence which filled her hearers with admiration.

Her reputation as a public lecturer soon equalled her renown as a
mathematician and philosopher, and a number of the most distinguished
men of Alexandria and other cities were among her regular disciples,
listening with delight to her dissertations. One of her most
enthusiastic students was Synesius, afterwards Bishop of Ptolemais, who
always held her in affectionate reverence, although she had steadily
refused to profess the Christian religion. Orestes, the governor, was
also among the number of her admirers and was frequently seen at her
lectures, which were attended by Christians as well as by pagans. To the
great qualities of her mind were added rare physical beauty and a
suavity of manners which won the hearts of all those who became
acquainted with her. Several of Alexandria’s most prominent citizens
desired to marry her, but she refused all proposals because she wanted
to live only for the sciences to which she had devoted her life. In
spite of her great popularity and the steadily increasing number of
admirers, Hypatia’s reputation was spotless; she had many friends, but
never had a lover. While this eminent woman’s celebrity as a
thinker--which entirely eclipsed his own--would have been sufficient to
fill the heart of Cyril with envy and jealousy, there was an additional
reason for his hatred and hostility. Orestes, the governor, was a
frequent visitor at her house and was known to consult her frequently on
important public questions. The Archbishop, perhaps justly, attributed
to Hypatia’s influence the governor’s evident leaning toward paganism
and his open admiration for the philosophical doctrines of the Greek
philosophers. Seeking for a victim on whom to vent his spite against
Orestes, he therefore selected Hypatia as the one whose destruction
would hurt him most deeply, while at the same time it would deliver
himself and the church from their most dangerous opponent. It was
comparatively easy for him to inflame the minds of the ignorant masses
with rage against the woman who was represented to them as the
implacable enemy of their religion, and whose pernicious teachings had
led so many others from the path of virtue and salvation.

Everything was carefully but secretly prepared for the fatal blow, which
was struck in the month of March, 415. It was a beautiful sunny day, and
Hypatia got ready to proceed to the University, where she was to lecture
that forenoon. A carriage was waiting for her at the door of her
residence. When she entered the carriage she was surprised at the
unusual number of people filling the street, and at the great number of
monks passing through their ranks and apparently haranguing them. She
could not account for this strange gathering, for it was not a Christian
holiday, nor was any civil procession to come off that morning.

All at once she noticed that this great assemblage of people began to
move in the direction of her own house. As it came nearer she heard wild
exclamations and threats, without comprehending, however, that she was
the object of this hostile demonstration. At the head of the procession
marched Peter, the reader, one of the most fanatical of the priests of
the city; he had played a very prominent part in the previous riots, and
was evidently the leader in this new movement. With growing
astonishment Hypatia saw them coming, but in the consciousness of her
innocence she had no fear. She was soon to be cruelly disabused.

As soon as the rioters were within a few hundred feet of her residence
and saw her seated in her carriage ready to start, the leaders and those
in the front rank rushed toward her. Peter, the reader, was the first to
reach her and to lay hands on her. As she recoiled from his touch in
terror, others climbed upon the wheels of the carriage and dragged her
down into the street. She resisted and called for help, but her cries
died away unheard in the tumult of the roaring and jeering multitude who
surrounded the carriage and with ever-increasing violence uttered
threats against her.

Popular excitement is a flame which feeds itself by the electric current
emanating from thousands of impassioned and excited minds. It is ready
on slight provocation to burst forth in all-devouring violence. But a
few minutes had passed from the moment the procession reached Hypatia’s
carriage until the infuriated mob, holding the victim firmly in their
grasp, had torn the garments from her body and hurried her with wild
cheers and laughter to the Cæsarium, the great Christian church.
Paralyzed with fear, unable to utter anything but screams and cries for
help, she was dragged, in a state of perfect nudity, through the
streets, and neither her helplessness nor her beauty softened the hearts
of her tormentors and murderers. She was doomed to die, to be sacrificed
at a Christian altar, atoning for her unbelief and her pernicious
teachings with her life. One of her own friends, like herself adhering
to the ancient cult and to Platonic philosophy, fitly compared Hypatia’s
murder to the sacrifice of a Greek goddess by drunken and infuriated
barbarians. But the crowning infamy of this assassination, as brutal as
any that history has recorded, was that the victim was dragged to the
church of Christ,--Christ, the incarnation of love and mercy,--and
slaughtered there amidst the yells and curses of the so-called
believers.

Hundreds of women had swelled the mob, and like the men they were
brandishing flints, shells, and broken pottery, with which to cut and
lacerate their victim that they might feast their eyes on her agony.

Charles Kingsley has given in his famous novel, “Hypatia,” a
heart-rending description of the last moments of the illustrious
woman-philosopher. The description may not be accurate in every little
detail, but Mr. Kingsley sees the scene with the eye and with the
imagination of a poet, and his description is poetically true. Our
readers will thank us for quoting his words in rendering this final
scene:--

     “Whither were they dragging her?... On into the church itself! Into
     the cool dim shadow, with its fretted pillars, and lowering domes,
     and candles, and incense, and blazing altar, and great pictures
     looking from the walls athwart the gorgeous gloom; and right in
     front, above the altar, the colossal Christ watching unmoved from
     off the wall, his right hand raised to give a blessing--or a curse?

     “On, up the nave, fresh shreds of her dress strewing the holy
     pavement--up the chancel steps themselves--right underneath the
     great, still Christ: and there even those hell-hounds paused....
     She shook herself free from her tormentors, and springing back,
     rose for one moment to her full height, naked, snow-white against
     the dusky mass around--shame and indignation in those wide, clear
     eyes, but not a stain of fear. With one hand she clasped her golden
     locks around her; the other long white arm was stretched upward
     toward the great still Christ, appealing--and who dare say in
     vain?--from man to God. Her lips were open to speak; but the words
     that should have come from them reached God’s ear alone; for in an
     instant Peter struck her down, the dark mass closed over her again
     ... and then wail on wail, long, wild, ear-piercing, ran along the
     vaulted roofs.... What in the name of the God of mercy were they
     doing? Tearing her piece-meal? Yes, and worse than that!... It was
     over. The shrieks had died away into moans, the moans to
     silence.... A new cry rose through the dome: ‘To the Cinaron! Burn
     the bones to ashes! Scatter them into the sea!’”

In the whole annals of crime not a more heart-rending and more brutal
scene can be found than the murder of Hypatia. The assassination of the
beautiful young Princess de Lamballe, the friend of Marie Antoinette,
during the worst days of the French Revolution, bears some resemblance
to it; but, after all, political fanaticism is never equal in its
intensity and cruelty to religious fanaticism. Moreover, the fate of
Hypatia shows that not all the martyrs were on the side of Christianity
in the early ages of the Christian church. It should be stated, however,
that a general cry of horror resounded through the world when the
terrible news of Hypatia’s death crossed the seas and was echoed from
land to land, and that the Christian Church, by its most illustrious
representatives, was loud in its denunciation of the murder.

Upon the fame and name of St. Cyril the murder of Hypatia has left a
lasting stain; for the plan and execution were generally attributed to
him. Even Catholic Church historians, both ancient and modern, criticise
him severely for his imprudent and ill-advised instigations against
Hypatia and her followers, although they try to protect his memory
against the reproach of having intentionally caused her death.



CHAPTER VI

THOMAS À BECKET

[Illustration: THOMAS À BECKET]



CHAPTER VI

ASSASSINATION OF THOMAS À BECKET

(December 29, 1170)


One of the most remarkable careers and one of the most famous
assassinations in the middle ages were the career and the assassination
of Thomas à Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. His life (at least after
he had been elevated to the Primacy of England) and his death show him
as the great representative of the Church of Rome, standing up for the
defence of its rights and dying in their defence; and they show also how
necessary, in those dark ages, was a superhuman power, to hold the
arrogance and brute force of warriors and princes in check, and bring
into subjection their unbridled passions and their insolent usurpations.
Even if Thomas à Becket miserably perished in his bold resistance to
kingly assumption, his death was a wholesome lesson to the tyrants on
European thrones, and raised him higher in the estimation of the world
than a victory over King Henry the Second would have done.

Thomas Becket, or, as he is oftener called, Thomas à Becket, rose to his
eminent station in State and Church from comparatively low birth. He was
born in 1119, the son of a London merchant and an Oriental mother. This
lady had followed the merchant to England after his return from the
Holy Land, where he had been a crusader. The merchant rapidly acquired
wealth, and was able to give his son, who was distinguished by brilliant
talents, a splendid education. After having studied for some time at
Oxford, the young man was permitted to complete his studies at the
University of Paris, which at that time attracted students from all
parts of Europe by the reputation of its professors and the superiority
of its methods of instruction. From Paris Thomas went to Bologna, in
order to study theology; by his travels and the application and zeal
with which he pursued his studies, he acquired an exceptional reputation
for the extent, variety, and depth of his knowledge. On his return from
Italy Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury was charmed with the attainments
and learning of the young man, and recommended him to the King for the
appointment of Chancellor. The King appointed him and made him also the
tutor of his son. In the position of Chancellor he ingratiated himself
with the King, and his counsels in matters of State and of importance to
the crown proved so valuable that the King soon distinguished him above
all other courtiers and officials, and treated him more as a friend than
as a subject.

Having inherited immense wealth from his father, and having, moreover,
been endowed by the munificence of the King with a number of offices and
benefices from which he derived large revenues, the Chancellor made a
great display of splendor and wealth. His household eclipsed almost that
of the King himself, and looked more like the court of a prince than the
household of a citizen. However, he neglected no opportunity to show his
loyalty and devotion to the King. In 1159 he accompanied the King to
Toulouse, with a retinue of seven hundred knights and twelve hundred
mounted men, all of whom he had equipped at his own expense. The King
also intrusted him with a confidential mission to Paris, where he was to
negotiate the marriage of the King’s eldest son with the eldest daughter
of the King of France. The Chancellor succeeded in concluding a family
alliance between the two courts, and conducted the young princess
personally to England.

In 1162 Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, died, and King Henry the
Second immediately declared that Thomas à Becket should be his
successor. When the King’s plan to make him Archbishop was mentioned to
Becket, he protested against it, and it would seem, sincerely. He even
went so far as to tell the King, when the latter urged him to work for
his election, that he was making a mistake in advocating his elevation
to the See of Canterbury, using these words: “If I should be raised to
that office, you would soon hate me as much as you now love me; for you
will meddle in the affairs of the Church more than I can consent to, and
people will not be wanting to embroil us.” But the King laughed at these
warnings. He supposed that Becket, as Archbishop, would be as
complaisant and willing a tool to assist him in curtailing the
prerogatives of the Church and transferring them to the crown, as he had
been on a former occasion. He therefore continued to use his influence
in favor of Becket’s election, and succeeded in placing him in the
Archbishop’s See. At first the Pope objected to his election, but he
finally ratified it in order to please the kings of England and France,
who had both appealed to him in Becket’s behalf.

No sooner had Becket been installed as Archbishop of Canterbury--which
dignity carried with it that of Primate of England--than he entirely
changed his mode of living. No more luxury, no more display of wealth,
no more horses or magnificent costumes for him! On the contrary, the new
Archbishop ostentatiously chose the coarsest and plainest garments.
Instead of the fine lace shirt of former days he wore a coarse
haircloth, dirty in the extreme, and his outer garments were frequently
ragged. His food was of the plainest quality, consisting of bread,
water, and skimmed milk. He affected austerity in every way, frequently
flogged himself for impure thoughts or nominal sins which he might have
committed, and every day he knelt and washed the feet of thirteen
beggars. He resigned his office as Chancellor in order to devote all his
time and zeal to his new office and the affairs of the Church.

The King did not like the change in the Archbishop’s ways, and protested
against his resignation, but Becket would not reconsider it. The King
rightly guessed that there might be a hidden meaning and a secret
ambition in the Archbishop’s sudden conversion to Christian humility,
which so strangely contrasted with his past conduct. The storm between
the two mighty men, each self-willed and irascible, was brewing, and
when it finally broke out, it was fierce and relentless. It never ended
until the prelate lay prostrate as a victim of assassins before the
altar of the church which he tried to protect from the King’s
usurpation.

It was not long before the conflict broke out. It then appeared that the
change which had taken place in Becket was not confined to the outer man
only, but had also affected his relation to the Church and the State.
From a King’s counsellor and servant he had suddenly turned to be the
counsellor and servant of the Church, and he carried over into his new
station the impulsiveness and stubbornness which had always
distinguished him in the service of the King. It is difficult to say
which of the two, in this struggle for ascendency, was right, or rather
which of the two was the more to blame. For while the King was
aggressive, arrogant, domineering, in the consciousness of his power,
the Archbishop was imperious, insolent, and inconsistent, inasmuch as he
now boldly condemned what he had formerly counselled. But it seemed to
be a trait of Becket’s character, that he always devoted himself
unconditionally to the master he served at the time, and that from the
moment he abandoned the service of the King for that of the Church it
was quite natural for him to defend the interests and rights of the
latter against the usurpations of the former.

At that time a priest who had committed any crime could be tried by an
ecclesiastical court only; consequently very few criminals of this class
were convicted and adequately punished; in most cases the accused, even
if found guilty, were only reprimanded and degraded. This abuse was
carried to such excess that during the first years of the reign of Henry
the Second no less than one hundred murders committed by priests had not
been punished. A priest had seduced the daughter of a gentleman living
in Worcestershire, and, confronted by the angry father of the girl,
assassinated him. Public indignation was aroused by this atrocity to
such an extent that the King ordered the arrest of the guilty priest and
his trial before a civil tribunal. Becket protested against this order,
claiming that it was an infringement of the prerogatives of the Church.
He ordered an ecclesiastical court to investigate the charges, and the
result was as usual, that the punishment awarded was only degradation.
The King was furious. He made up his mind to beat the Archbishop at his
own game and to punish him for his presumption. He therefore submitted
the question of ecclesiastical immunities and of church prerogatives to
a council of jurists and ordered them to investigate whether these
prerogatives were founded on a solid historical basis. The jurists knew
what sort of decision the King wanted, and they gave it. Thereupon the
King convened a general council of the high nobility and also of the
Church at Clarendon, and there, among other restrictions placed upon the
Church, it was enacted that members of the clergy indicted for a crime
should be tried by civil tribunals, exactly like other subjects.

Becket, seeing that all the barons and many prelates had submitted to
the decree of the council, was compelled to yield, and swore to obey it;
but his submission was caused only by his powerlessness. But when this
so-called Constitution of Clarendon was sent to the Pope for
ratification, he rejected it haughtily and condemned it in the most
energetic manner. Thereupon Becket, basing his action on the
condemnation of the Pope, openly retracted the consent which he had
given to the Clarendon decree, and subjected himself to great
austerities and macerations proportionate to the greatness of the sin he
had committed in yielding to the royal demands. He even refused to
perform any functions connected with his episcopal rank until the Pope
had acquitted him of his great wrong against the Church. This action
made the rupture between the King and the Archbishop irreparable. Henry
swore to have his revenge on a priest who was not only an ingrate but a
perjurer. He arraigned him before a parliament convened at Northampton
in 1165 as a rebel, as having violated his oath of allegiance. Becket
was convicted, his personal estate was confiscated, the revenues of his
archbishopric were seized, and Becket himself, abandoned even by his
clergy, fled to France, whose King, in spite of the protests of Henry,
offered him a refuge.

Becket’s spirit was far from being broken. From his retreat in France he
wrote to the bishops of England that the Pope had annulled the
Constitution of Clarendon, and at the same time he excommunicated a
number of those, bishops as well as other high officials, who had
assisted in violating the sacred rights of the Church. The King answered
by exiling all his relatives from England, and forbidding his subjects
to correspond with him, or to send him money; he even forbade prayers in
behalf of the Archbishop to be offered in church.

But the conditions between the Church and the court created by this
conflict were such that the King found it expedient to make overtures of
reconciliation to Becket, first through the bishops and church officials
of England, and afterwards personally. In a conference which he held for
that purpose with the King of France, he said to the latter: “There have
been several kings of England, some more and others less powerful than
myself; there have been also several Archbishops of Canterbury, in my
opinion as respectable and as sainted as Thomas à Becket; let him show
to me the same deference which the greatest of his predecessors have
shown to the least powerful of my predecessors, and there will be no
controversy between us.” King Henry also offered to take the clergy of
France as umpires in the questions at issue; but when Becket stubbornly
refused to be reconciled to the King of England, the King of France lost
his patience and withdrew the protection which up to that day he had
accorded to him.

These and other changes unfavorable to him finally induced Becket to
lend to the King’s proposals of reconciliation a more willing ear, and
at last an interview took place between them which resulted in their
reconciliation--apparently at least. The interview was much more cordial
than might have been supposed from the exceedingly strained relations
that had existed between them for years. The Archbishop approached the
King as became a subject, and the King met him with the humility shown
at that time to princes of the Church; when they parted, Becket bent his
knee to the King, who held the stirrup of his horse as the Archbishop
mounted. The interview had resulted in settling their differences. Both
had made concessions, but the larger part of these had been made by the
King. All the Archbishop’s personal property had also been restored to
him; he thereupon agreed to return to England and resume the functions
of his office. He had been absent seven years.

The people at large, and especially the poor, greeted him with
enthusiasm; but the barons kept away, and some of them showed open
hostility to the Archbishop, or mysteriously hinted at a speedy ending
of his newly regained honors. His arrival in England had been preceded
by a messenger from the Pope carrying writs of excommunication for three
English bishops who had been especially hostile to Becket. These
bishops immediately went to Normandy, where Henry the Second had
remained, and laid their complaints before him, laying all the blame on
Becket, whom they charged with inflaming the people of England against
their King and sowing discord in their hearts. When these matters were
laid before him, and also a statement that Becket had excommunicated two
barons whom he considered his special enemies, the King got into a rage
and exclaimed: “What? Is there among the cowards whom I feed at my table
not one brave enough to deliver me from this firebrand of a priest?”
These words could have but one meaning. Four of the barons took it upon
themselves to deliver the King from the obnoxious priest. The King
afterwards declared that he had never intended to suggest the
assassination of Becket; but what other construction could be given to
his words? The assassination itself was one of the most dramatic in
history. The would-be murderers travelled in such haste that a messenger
whom the King sent after them to warn them not to kill Becket could not
overtake them. Arriving at Canterbury on December 29, 1170, they, with
twelve other noblemen, went to the Archbishop’s residence, and
expostulated with him concerning the excommunication of certain priests
and barons, and when he refused to revoke the excommunications, the
barons left him with threats. They returned toward evening. The bell of
the church was ringing for vespers, and the Archbishop had gone there.
The priests wanted to close and barricade the doors, but he objected.
“The doors of the house of God should not be barricaded like a
fortress!” said he. Just then the assassins came in, brandishing their
swords and calling for the traitor. The priests surrounding the
Archbishop fled in terror; only his cross-bearer stayed with him. It was
so dark that neither the intruders nor the priest could be seen
distinctly. Another voice called: “Where is the Archbishop?” “I am
here,” answered Becket. “I am no traitor, but only a priest of the
Lord!” They were afraid to kill him in the holy precincts. Once more
they asked him to absolve those he had excommunicated. He refused,
because they had not repented. “Then you shall die!” they cried. “I am
ready, in the name of the Saviour,” he answered; “but I forbid you, by
the Lord Almighty, to touch any of these present, priests or laymen.”
They heeded him not, but rushed upon him, and with three or four thrusts
from their swords, one of them splitting his skull, laid him prostrate
at the foot of the altar.

The murderers hurried back to Normandy to get their reward. The news of
the murder, when it reached the ears of the King, struck terror into his
heart. He knew he was, and would be held, responsible for Becket’s
death. Fear seized him, that he would feel the Pope’s wrath, that he
would be excommunicated, that England and his possessions in France
would be placed under an interdict, that the Saxon population of
England, which already revered Becket as a saint, might rise in open
rebellion against him. He therefore made haste to disclaim publicly any
complicity in the murder, and sent an ambassador to the Pope to assure
him of his entire innocence and of his profound grief at the bloody
deed. The Pope at first refused to receive the ambassador, and it was
only by means of many prayers, promises, and humble supplications that
he finally absolved the King of intentional complicity in the heinous
crime. The King actually purchased this absolution by pledging himself
to support, during three years, two hundred well-equipped horsemen for
the protection of the Holy Sepulchre.

But even this act of papal absolution was not deemed sufficient by the
King to protect him from the evil consequences of the assassination. To
remove this danger the King two years afterwards undertook a pilgrimage
to the tomb of Becket, who had in the meantime been buried in the
Cathedral with royal honors. As soon as the steeple of the Cathedral
appeared on the horizon, the King dismounted, and proceeded on his way
barefooted, his bleeding feet leaving a spot of blood at every step. On
his arrival at the tomb he prostrated himself, and subjected himself to
the humiliation of a severe flagellation at the hands of the monks, each
of whom applied to his bare back three strokes from a knotted rope.

Having undergone this public chastisement, the King remained praying and
fasting the following night, prostrated on the tombstone. Next morning
he returned to London, where, immediately after his arrival, he fell
seriously ill from the effects of his pilgrimage.

The Pope canonized the martyr who had so heroically died in the defence
of the prerogatives of the Church.



CHAPTER VII

GESSLER

[Illustration: GESSLER]



CHAPTER VII

ASSASSINATION OF GESSLER

(A.D. 1307.)


The assassination of Julius Cæsar and of the first Roman Emperors led to
greater demoralization of the people, and thereafter to anarchy,
bloodshed, civil war, and ultimately to an atrocious despotism; but at
an interval of twelve hundred and forty years after the death of Nero
there occurred a political assassination, growing out of personal
revenge, which freed a whole people from oppression and placed the
murderer among the heroes of mankind and the liberators of nations. We
speak of William Tell, the national hero of Switzerland, who in 1307
deliberately murdered Gessler, the Austrian governor.

This governor, who resided at the castle of Kuessnacht, had committed
the greatest outrages and acts of despotism against the inhabitants of
his gubernatorial district, embracing the so-called three Waldstädte
(Forest Cantons),--Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden. Until then these Forest
Cantons had enjoyed a republican government, and had given to the German
Empire a merely nominal recognition, by acknowledging the German Emperor
as their suzerain. There is a great resemblance in the relations between
these Swiss Cantons and the German Empire to the relations which
existed, before the South African war, between the two Boer Republics
and the crown of England. Rudolph of Hapsburg, himself a Swiss by birth,
who had been elected German Emperor, had pursued a liberal policy toward
the Cantons and in special charters had guaranteed to them their
inherited rights and liberties. But his son Albrecht the First, who
succeeded Rudolph on the imperial throne, resolved to do away with these
prerogatives, deprive the Swiss Cantons of their independence, and make
them subject to the crown of Austria. Theretofore the German Emperors
had been represented in a few cities of Switzerland by bailiffs, who
exerted the same authority in the Cantons as our federal judges in
United States Territories; but Albrecht changed their duties and
authority entirely, investing them with many additional powers, so that
they became practically governors of their districts, appointed by the
Emperor and administering their office as imperial officials.

Against this change the inhabitants of the Cantons entered their solemn
protests; they sent delegations to Albrecht to remonstrate with him; but
he gave evasive answers, increased the soldiery protecting the
governors, shut his ears to all complaints about their arrogance and
growing usurpation, and secretly encouraged them “to do all in their
power to break the stubborn resistance of these uncouth mountaineers and
boors, and make them obedient subjects of the Austrian crown.” To the
strong men of the Cantons, who had never bowed their necks under the
yoke of a foreign despot, the tyranny of these Austrian governors became
intolerable; their leading men made up their minds to throw it off by
all means, and to maintain their independence at any cost. Even the
members of the nobility scattered through the Cantons were indignant at
the arbitrary and haughty ways of the imperial bailiffs, who treated
them with the same arrogance as they treated the common people; they
therefore made common cause with the latter, so that practically the
imperial officials were isolated in a hostile country, without friends
or party.

The public discontent culminated in a secret conspiracy, of which Walter
Fuerst of Uri, Werner Stauffacher of Schwyz, and Arnold Melchthal of
Unterwalden, were the originators. These three men, each a
representative and influential citizen of his own Canton, met at the
house of Walter Fuerst and agreed to meet for further consultation on
the Ruetli, an elevated plateau, hidden in the woods, near the lake of
Uri, on certain nights, each undertaking to bring along ten men tried
and true, who had promised to act with them, for life and death, for the
deliverance of their country. They also pledged themselves by oath to
keep this league a secret from all but the initiated, who like
themselves had sworn to coöperate for the deliverance of the country,
until the time had come for united action on one and the same day. This
was done in the fall of 1307. A later consultation of the conspirators
on the Ruetli took place some weeks afterwards, and was attended by the
three leaders and thirty others. They were all full of enthusiasm and
hope of victory. They all pledged the almost unanimous support of the
inhabitants of the three Cantons, and finally agreed that the people
should rise in rebellion on New Year’s Day, 1308. The humane feature of
this proposed revolution appears from their joint agreement, affirmed
under oath, that, in expelling the Austrian governors and their
followers from their castles and their country, they would not kill them
except in self-defence, but would treat them with leniency and charity.
Is it not as if we heard Oom Krueger and his friends of the Transvaal
and Orange Free State counsel on measures for their independence? They
placed their full confidence in the justice of their cause, the
assistance of God, and their own bravery.

The day for the execution of their plot was anticipated by an unforeseen
event. Gessler, the Governor of Uri and Schwyz, had made himself
especially odious by all sorts of petty acts of tyranny. Among these was
an order that the ducal hat of Austria was to be placed on the top of a
long pole to be erected on the market space of Altorf and that nobody
should pass by it without uncovering his head and showing it respect as
if the Duke of Austria (Albrecht, Emperor of Germany) himself were
there. The citizens generally complied with the order. But one day
William Tell and his little son passed by the hat without minding
Gessler’s order. William Tell was the son-in-law of Walter Fuerst, one
of the three leaders of the Ruetli conspiracy, and, like Walter Fuerst
himself, he was looked upon with suspicion by the Austrian authorities.
The openness with which he ignored Gessler’s order was immediately
construed as an act of defiance and rebellion. He was taken before
Gessler, and the cruel bailiff imposed upon him a punishment which, he
thought, would wound him to the heart.

“Tell,” said he to him, “by your act of disobedience you have forfeited
your life. But I will be merciful to you,” and pointing to Tell’s
crossbow, he continued: “You have the reputation of being the best
archer of our Canton, if not of all Switzerland. I have never seen a
test of your skill yet; very well, let your skill be tried now, and if
it is as great as your reputation it will save your life. There is an
apple. Place it upon your boy’s head, and at a distance of thirty steps
shoot it with an arrow. But take good aim! For, if you hit the boy, your
life will pay for it!”

William Tell complied with the cruel order, and with his usual masterly
skill brought down the apple from the boy’s head. Gessler was enraged at
the result, and, before dismissing Tell, he asked him with an insidious
smile: “Now tell me, William Tell, why did you take two arrows from your
quiver before you took aim at the apple on your boy’s head? Tell me
sincerely, and whatever your answer may be, your life shall not be
imperilled.”

Carried away by his wrath, Tell contemptuously replied: “If I had missed
my aim and hit my boy, the second arrow was for you, and, by God
Almighty, it would not have gone astray!”

“That’s what I thought,” cried Gessler, and turning to his escort he
ordered them to put Tell in chains and take him to the boat on the lake.
“Your life,” said he to Tell, “is not in peril; but I will take you to
my castle in Kuessnacht; there in one of the darkest dungeons
underground you shall be imprisoned, and may find time to repent the
rebellious words which you have uttered!”

In the immediate neighborhood of Kuessnacht, on a mountain top
overlooking the town, was the fortified castle where Gessler resided. It
was on the way to that residence that Tell did the act by which he
satisfied his personal revenge and also freed his country from the
bloody tyranny of the despot. While Gessler and his prisoner were
crossing the lake, a storm arose, which endangered the boat. The fury of
the tempest filled the hearts of the boatmen with dismay and terror, and
tremblingly they turned to Gessler, saying: “The boldest and most
skilful boatman in the Canton is Tell. He may be able to save the boat,
but we cannot! Set him free and he may bring us safe to port.”

Gessler ordered the chains to be removed from Tell’s limbs and ordered
him to take the helm, promising him life, liberty, and a full pardon if
he should bring them safe into port. Tell took the helm, and the boat,
obedient to its master’s hand, sped through the storm-tossed waves like
a seabird dancing on the surface. But turning round a rock-bound bluff
close to the shore, Tell suddenly took up his cross-bow lying on the
bench near by, and with a mighty leap jumped on the rock, hurling the
boat far back into the hissing and tempestuous flood.

Gessler also escaped from the watery grave, but only to meet his doom on
land even before he had reached his home. Tell was lying in ambush on
the road from the lake to Kuessnacht. It was the road which Gessler and
his party had to take on their return to the castle, if they should
succeed in effecting a landing on the shore. After some time Gessler,
accompanied by a few friends, came in sight. No sooner had the party
entered the defile than Gessler, shot through the heart by Tell’s
unerring arrow, fell from his horse.

Tell’s shot was the signal for the general uprising of the people of
Switzerland. Years of struggle and warfare against Austria’s nobility
and armed forces followed Tell’s heroic act, but the entire
independence of Switzerland was finally secured. Switzerland is to this
day a free and independent republic, and Tell’s name shines with
imperishable lustre not only as its great national hero, but also among
the immortal patriots and liberators of mankind.

We are well aware that recent historical criticism has expressed doubt
as to Tell’s great act of deliverance, and even as to his existence, and
that in some histories the tale is simply relegated to the domain of
legend and tradition. But there is no real justification for this
decision. It is founded only on a statement in the chronicle of Saxo
Grammaticus recording a feat of archery in Scandinavia similar to that
of William Tell, and performed hundreds of years before Tell’s day.

As Johannes von Mueller, the great historian, judiciously says: “It
shows but scanty knowledge of history to deny the truth of a historical
event simply because another similar event occurred in another century
and country.” But truth or fiction, history or legend, the heroic act
and name of Tell will live on, immortal and inspiring, as they have
lived during the last six hundred years. Poets and novelists have
immortalized the great national hero of Switzerland in song and story.
Frederick Schiller, Germany’s greatest dramatist, has made him the
central hero of his greatest drama, and has given his name to that great
hymn of liberty and patriotism, which stirred up the German nation to
its glorious struggle against Napoleon the First. It is one of the few
truly patriotic assassinations recorded in history.



CHAPTER VIII

IÑEZ DE CASTRO

[Illustration: IÑEZ DE CASTRO]



CHAPTER VIII

ASSASSINATION OF IÑEZ DE CASTRO

(A.D. 1355.)


As one of the most cruel and heart-rending tragedies of the middle ages,
the love-story and the assassination of Iñez de Castro has lived in song
and story for five hundred and fifty years, and still awakens echoes of
pity and sorrow whenever read or heard.

Constancia, the wife of Pedro, son of Alfonso the Fourth of Portugal,
and heir-presumptive to the crown of that kingdom, died in 1344, and
left to her husband a son of tender age, named Ferdinand. Pedro
thereupon desired to marry the countess Iñez de Castro, a young lady of
great beauty and loveliness, and, like himself, sprung in direct
lineage, but on her mother’s side, from the royal house of Castile. Iñez
de Castro was of an illustrious family, it is true, but her rank was not
deemed sufficient to entitle her to become the wife of the Crown Prince;
therefore when Dom Pedro mentioned to his father his intention to marry
her, the King positively refused his consent. Dom Pedro, however,
instead of obeying his father, secured permission from the Pope, and
secretly married her, bestowing upon her the full rank and all the
rights of a legitimate wife.

In the meantime the King and his advisers urged Dom Pedro to get
married again, and proposed a number of young princesses of renowned
beauty and ancestry for his choice. But Pedro, without disclosing the
secret of his marriage with Iñez de Castro (rumors of which were
nevertheless whispered and busily circulated at the court of the King),
persistently rejected all these proposals, giving no other reason for
his refusal than his personal disinclination to marry. While Pedro’s
father reluctantly accepted his son’s emphatic declaration, the most
trusted advisers and counsellors of the King, Diego Lopez Pacheco, Pedro
Coello, and Alvaro Calvarez, did not, because they were afraid lest the
influence of the beautiful and accomplished Iñez de Castro--no matter
whether she was legally married to Pedro or not--would be dangerous and
possibly fatal to their own preëminence at the court, as soon as Pedro
should succeed his father on the throne. They shrewdly worked upon the
King’s mind by insinuating that if the rumor of Pedro’s secret marriage
should prove to be true, the ultimate succession of Ferdinand, Pedro’s
son by his first wife, to whom the King was very much attached, might be
endangered, and that possibly the son of Iñez de Castro would become
Pedro’s successor on the throne.

The King summoned Pedro to a private interview, and asked him concerning
his relations with Iñez de Castro, informing him at the same time of the
rumor of his secret marriage. Pedro denied the truth of this rumor,
admitting, however, that Iñez de Castro, while not his wedded wife, was
so dear to his heart that on her account he would not consent to form a
new matrimonial alliance, no matter how illustrious by birth or beauty
the princess proposed to him might be. The emphasis with which Pedro
made this assertion satisfied his father that the rumor of a secret
marriage was true; and when the King, at the next cabinet council,
repeated to his confidants the result of his interview with the Crown
Prince, they predicted that the greatest calamities would arise, after
the King’s death, from the Crown Prince’s infatuation for Iñez, which
they ascribed rather to unnatural evil influences than to the surpassing
beauty and loveliness of the young woman. The King, a man of very
irascible temperament, became excited and indignant; he declared again
and again that, if there were no other means of separating Pedro and
Iñez, the young woman would have to die. The council then broke up.

It was but a short time afterwards that Dom Pedro left the court for a
few days to go out hunting with some friends. But warned by his mother,
who had heard of the King’s evil designs upon Iñez de Castro, he had
taken her and her two children to Coimbra, where he left them in a
convent to await his return. On the day after his departure, King
Alfonso suddenly appeared at the convent and demanded to see Iñez de
Castro. Pedro’s wife immediately made her appearance, accompanied by her
two children. As she looked upon the King, whose mien was grim and
menacing, and who was surrounded by a number of his knights in full
armor, a presentiment of some terrible calamity which was to befall her
and her two children entered her breast, and from an impulse of both
fear, and of hope to save her children, she threw herself at the King’s
feet, imploring him to forgive her and to take pity on her innocent
children. Alfonso’s heart melted with pity at the sight of so much
beauty and innocence. He raised her from her kneeling position and told
her to be of good cheer, and that no harm would befall her. And then
turning round, he left the convent, followed by his attendants, who were
not a little surprised at this peaceful ending of a visit which had
promised to be a tragedy.

But while Iñez already congratulated herself on her lucky escape from a
terrible death, and even on her good fortune in having softened the
King’s heart toward herself and her two children, she was nevertheless
doomed to ruin. The three counsellors so hostile to her had not
accompanied the King on his visit to the convent; they were waiting for
the return of their sovereign at some distance from Coimbra, and were
greatly disappointed when they learned from his own lips that, instead
of having slain with his own hands, as he had promised to do, the woman
who had seduced his son and enthralled him either by her beauty or by
the employment of supernatural means, he had changed his mind concerning
her, and now spoke feelingly and affectionately of her and her sweet
children. The counsellors concealed with great difficulty the irritation
and disgust with which the King’s weakness filled them; they immediately
proceeded to counteract the favorable impression which Iñez had made,
uttering the foulest insinuations and aspersions upon her character. The
very change which she had succeeded in effecting in the King’s
sentiments toward her was made the means of renewing and corroborating
the charge that evil spirits were assisting her in bewitching the royal
family for her own selfish purposes. “Since she has so easily captured
your majesty,” said one of them cunningly, “who can hope to resist her
and her ambitious designs? Poor Ferdinand!”

The artful mention of the name of the young prince, whose right of
succession was endangered by the recognition of Iñez de Castro, was
sufficient to elicit from the King the promise that his son’s mistress
should never be received at the court. Having obtained this concession,
the three counsellors found it comparatively easy to persuade him that
the original purpose for which they had come to Coimbra--the death of
Iñez--was the only salvation for the throne and the dynasty, and that it
was his duty as a monarch to remove her as soon as possible in order to
avert greater calamities. They told him that it was perhaps right that
he had not soiled his royal hands with the blood of one who was unworthy
of the high distinction of dying by his sword, but that it was a duty he
owed to the state and to the legitimate heir to the throne to order her
death at the earliest moment. Alfonso was weak and foolish enough to
believe them and to sanction the murder of the fair and innocent wife of
his son. That very night Iñez de Castro fell a victim to the daggers of
two assassins.

The assassination provoked terror throughout Portugal and Spain, and
general were the denunciations of the King and the counsellors who had
advised him to commit the crime. But in this case what followed the
murder has, even more than the atrocity of the crime itself, made it
famous in song and story. The murder of Iñez de Castro occurred in 1355.

A rumor of the tragedy reached Dom Pedro while he was taking dinner at
the small tavern of a village, some thirty leagues from Coimbra. The
Crown Prince was travelling incognito, and neither the host nor the
guests of the tavern, except his own companions, knew him and how
deeply he was interested in the terrible news which a cattle dealer had
just reported as the latest sensation in the city. Dom Pedro hurried
back to Coimbra and to the convent. The rumor was only too true. His
idolized wife was dead. Three horrible wounds, each of which would have
been sufficient to cause death, disfigured her beautiful corpse; but her
countenance shone with angelic radiance and sweetness, and the agony of
death seemed to have left no trace on it. When Dom Pedro learned from
the nuns how the assassins had demanded entrance in the name of the King
and had burst open the bedroom of Iñez and butchered her without mercy,
he knelt down by the coffin and swore bloody vengeance against all those
who had taken a hand in this inhuman and atrocious crime. He called upon
Heaven to assist him in bringing the assassins and their instigators to
justice, and laying his hands upon the breast of his murdered wife, he
swore that he would not desist from the pursuit of the guilty persons,
even if he had to seek them on the throne. The meaning of these words
could not be misconstrued, for it was generally understood that, while
the three counsellors had proposed the murder, the King had given his
consent to it. When Dom Pedro’s threat was repeated to him, the King,
highly incensed, loudly proclaimed that Iñez de Castro’s death was a
just punishment for her criminal liaison with the Crown Prince, in open
violation of the King’s order, and assumed the full responsibility for
the murder. The Crown Prince, so rudely repelled by his father and
deeply wounded by the disgrace heaped upon his virtuous wife, refused to
return to the court; on the contrary, he called his friends, and the
friends of Iñez de Castro, her brothers and cousins, to arms. The cruel
and unjustifiable homicide he justly ascribed to the calumnies and
intrigues of a set of rapacious cut-throats who were ready to sacrifice
everything to their own personal interests, and who had deceived the
King. In a very short time Dom Pedro found himself at the head of an
army, with which he invaded those provinces in which the castles and
mansions of the counsellors were situated. With merciless severity their
lands were laid waste, their castles razed to the ground, their families
and friends killed, and everything was done to make their very names and
memories odious to their fellow-men.

By that time the King had also been informed by high dignitaries of the
Church that the union between his son and Iñez de Castro had been
consecrated, that the Pope himself had granted them permission to get
married, and that strict secrecy had been observed simply out of high
regard for the King, in the hope that he would never hear of it and
would consequently not feel irritated by it. This information had a
powerful effect on the King’s mind. He began to see what a great crime
he had committed in sanctioning the murder of a virtuous and innocent
young wife, whose only fault had possibly been her yielding, against the
King’s outspoken wishes, to the Prince’s ardent wooing. And when the
Queen, Dom Pedro’s mother, added her supplications and tears in behalf
of her son, whom the murder of his wife had made nearly insane from
grief, the King became more and more willing to be reconciled to him. He
not only forgave his acts of rebellion, but even made amends, as much as
he could, for the cruel wrong he had done him.

Under such circumstances it was comparatively easy for the Archbishop
of Braga, whom the Pope had authorized to impart to the King the
information concerning Dom Pedro’s marriage, to effect a reconciliation
between father and son. Thereupon the son returned to the court, where
he was received with the highest honors, after he had solemnly promised
not to take revenge on the counsellors who had been instrumental in
causing the death of his wife, and who had already been so severely
punished by the devastation of their lands and the destruction of their
castles. To consent to this condition was the cruelest sacrifice on the
part of Dom Pedro, but he finally yielded to the tears and prayers of
his mother--very likely, however, as we shall see, with a mental
reservation.

Two years later, King Alfonso the Fourth died, and Dom Pedro ascended
the throne of Portugal. The old King’s death was also the signal for the
flight of his three counsellors, Pacheco, Coello, and Gonsalvez, whose
absence was first noticed at the King’s obsequies. They had sought
refuge in Castile, because they felt instinctively that it would not be
safe for them to remain in Portugal, and that the ill-concealed hatred
of Dom Pedro might break forth at any moment and punish them terribly
for the part they had taken in Iñez de Castro’s death. In fact Pedro had
never forgiven the assassins of his wife. On the contrary, his heart had
never ceased to yearn for the day when he could not only take full and
bloody revenge on her persecutors and murderers, but also restore the
honor of her name and memory, which had been sullied by the calumnies of
those scoundrels.

Castile was at that time ruled by Pedro the Cruel, one of the worst and
most bloodthirsty tyrants that ever sat upon a Spanish throne. Some of
his victims had made their escape into Portugal and had found
protection at the court of Alfonso, Dom Pedro’s father. But when the
counsellors of Alfonso arrived at his court, Pedro the Cruel formed the
diabolical plan of delivering them up to Pedro of Portugal, provided the
latter would deliver, in exchange for them, the Castilians who had found
an asylum in his kingdom. No more agreeable proposition could have been
made to the King of Portugal, and the exchange was readily made. Two of
the counsellors, Coello and Gonsalvez, were transported in chains to
Portugal, and executed with inhuman cruelty. They were put to the
torture in the hope of extorting from them the names of other
accessories to the crime; thereupon they were burned at the stake, and
their hearts were torn out; and thereafter their ashes were scattered to
the winds. Pacheco, however, escaped this terrible fate. Being absent
from the court of Castile when his two colleagues were arrested, he fled
to Aragon.

After having in this manner satisfied his vengeance on the assassins,
King Pedro assembled the high nobility and the great dignitaries of his
kingdom at Cataneda, and in their presence swore that, after the death
of his first wife, Constancia, he had legally married Iñez de Castro;
that the Pope of Rome had given him special permission to do so, and
that the marriage ceremony had been performed by the Archbishop La
Guarda, in the presence of two witnesses, whom he mentioned by name. He
ordered these facts to be entered upon the archives of the state and to
be proclaimed publicly in every city, town, and village of the kingdom.
The children of Iñez de Castro were declared legitimate and entitled to
all the rights and prerogatives of princes of the blood, including
succession to the throne of Portugal. Proceeding thence to Coimbra, the
King ordered the vault in which the remains of Iñez had been deposited
to be opened, her corpse, which had been embalmed, to be dressed in a
royal robe and placed upon a throne, and her head to be adorned with a
royal crown. He compelled his attendants, composed of the highest men of
the monarchy, to pass by the throne and bow their knees and kiss the
edge of the Queen’s robe,--in fact, to show the same reverence and
respect to the dead Queen as they might have shown to the living Queen
on the day of her coronation. As soon as this ghastly ceremony was over,
the corpse was placed in a magnificent metal coffin and escorted by the
King and a most brilliant cortège of knights and noblemen to Alcobaza, a
royal residence about seventeen miles from Coimbra, and placed in a
royal vault. A magnificent monument, which represented Iñez de Castro in
her incomparable beauty and loveliness, was shortly after erected near
the vault. It was the last tribute which the love and admiration of her
husband could render to her memory.



CHAPTER IX

RIZZIO AND DARNLEY

[Illustration: DAVID RIZZIO]



CHAPTER IX

ASSASSINATIONS OF RIZZIO AND DARNLEY

(March 9, 1566; February 9, 1567)


Among the female rulers of Europe there is one who on account of her
matchless beauty, her genius, her adventurous life, but especially her
tragic death, has enlisted the attention and admiration of authors and
poets even to a higher degree than Catherine the Second of Russia or
Elizabeth of England, who perhaps surpassed her in political genius.
More regretted and admired for her misfortunes and accomplishments than
condemned for her sins and crimes, Mary Stuart, the beautiful Queen of
Scots, lives in the recollections of posterity as a vision of
incomparable grace, beauty, and loveliness, hallowed by the genius of
great poets and redeemed by a tragic and cruel death. To no historical
memory poetry and tradition have been more kind and more idealizing than
to Mary Stuart; and yet she deserves a place in this gallery of
assassinations not as a victim, but as a murderess.

After reading the descriptions in prose and verse of her personal
charms, of her matchless beauty and grace, of her elegance and wit, of
her poetical inspiration and musical accomplishments, it is almost
impossible for the stern historian to maintain the self-possession of an
impartial judge and record the misdeeds of which this bewitching
creature was unquestionably guilty. She seemed to combine in her
incomparable personality all the physical and mental perfections woman
is capable of. We will say, however, that the crimes which have justly
been laid to her charge were, in part at least, excusable either on the
ground of the surrounding circumstances or of great provocations. Murder
itself, in the rude country and in the equally rude and violent times in
which it was committed, had not that horrid significance which
stigmatizes it in a more refined and cultured state of civilization.

Mary Stuart was the only daughter of King James the Fifth of Scotland by
his second wife, Marie de Lorraine. She was the niece of the famous
princes of the house of Guise--Duke Francis of Guise and the Cardinal de
Lorraine--who were rivals in authority and power with the kings of
France, and who on several occasions rose superior to them. James the
Fifth died young, with his daughter yet in her cradle. Quite young she
was betrothed to the Dauphin of France, who became afterwards King
Francis the Second, and she was married to him when a mere child. Her
renown for beauty and genius resounded from one end of Europe to the
other. With remarkable facility she learned French, Italian, Greek,
Latin, history, theology, music, painting, dancing, and she excelled in
writing poetry. Some of her short poems are still famous in French
literature. But her life as Queen of France was but a short dream of
splendor and delight. The weak and emaciated Francis the Second died
after a reign of eleven months, and the crown went to his young brother,
Charles the Ninth.

Mary Stuart retired for a while to a convent at Rheims, but soon, upon
the death of her mother at Edinburgh, she proceeded to Scotland, where a
throne awaited her. Quite a number of enthusiastic adorers among the
high nobility of France followed her to her new home, because they could
not bear the thought of separating from a princess so charming and
beautiful,--a princess who kindled in the hearts of all men who were
brought into contact with her, desires and frequently a passion which
became fatal to them. Unquestionably Mary Stuart was one of the most
dangerous coquettes who ever lived, and at the brilliant and voluptuous
court of the Valois in France, almost under the personal direction of
the famous Diana de Poitiers, she had cultivated the art of using her
extraordinary charms and accomplishments for the seduction of men to her
best advantage. One of the most conspicuous of these followers from
France was Du Chatelard, the scion of one of the noblest houses of the
French monarchy. He bears the sad distinction of having been the first
victim to Mary Stuart’s intrigues, and of having paid for the mad and
uncontrollable passion which he had conceived for her with his life.
Chatelard himself was a young man of high accomplishments. He was a poet
and musician, and by his sweet voice he easily won the favor of the
young Queen. She imprudently gave him so many proofs of her favor and
openly admitted him to such a close intimacy that young Chatelard not
without reason believed that she returned the love which he had
conceived for her. And Mary was not in the least afraid to show her
fondness for him. It is authentically reported, for instance, that in
bidding him goodnight in the presence of the court “she kissed him below
the chin, looking at him in a way that set his whole soul afire.” No
wonder that the young man in the transport of his passion committed acts
of indiscretion and madness, which in a short time led to his execution,
without visibly affecting the beautiful coquette who had encouraged his
passion. One night the ladies of the palace discovered him hidden behind
the curtains of the Queen’s bed, but his audacity was ascribed to his
thoughtlessness and vanity. He was expelled from the palace for a while,
but was soon afterwards forgiven and received again into the Queen’s
intimacy. This act of pardon turned the young man’s head again. He made
no secret of his glowing admiration for the Queen, and addressed amorous
verses to her, which were repeated by her attendants. One evening he was
again discovered in the Queen’s bedroom, where he had secreted himself
under the Queen’s bed. This second time he was put on trial, and was
condemned to death for having conspired against the Queen’s life. In
vain he protested his undying love for Mary Stuart, but the judges were
inexorable, and Mary herself, who had been trifling with his heart so
long, and who with a single stroke of the pen could have pardoned and
saved him, coolly handed him over to the executioner. A scaffold was
erected before the windows of Holyrood Palace, where Mary resided, and
Du Chatelard, the grand-nephew of the famous Chevalier Bayard, suffered
death with a heroism worthy of his great ancestor. His last words were,
as he cast a sorrowful look upon the windows behind which the Queen
stood with her attendants: “Farewell, thou who art so beautiful and so
cruel, who killest me, and whom I cannot cease to love!”

The death of Chatelard was the first of a series caused by the mad
passion which Mary Stuart kindled in the hearts of her adorers. Another
attendant who had followed Queen Mary from France to Scotland, and whose
tragic fate is even more generally known than that of Du Chatelard, was
David Rizzio, an Italian musician, who for some time had been attached
to the court of Francis the Second of France. Rizzio was of low birth,
but had some talent as a composer of songs and as a singer, and had been
brought from Italy by the French Ambassador at Piedmont, from whose
service he passed into that of one of the enthusiastic noblemen who had
escorted the young Queen to Scotland. The Queen’s attention was soon
attracted to the Italian composer and singer, and she begged Rizzio of
the nobleman, so that he might enter her own service and by his art make
her forget the lonesome hours and the homesickness for France which she
felt would be the inevitable result of her residence in Scotland. By a
congeniality of taste the poor and lowborn Italian artist and the
beautiful young Queen were thrown together a great deal, and gradually
the love for the art ripened into a preference for the artist. He soon
became the declared favorite and private secretary of the Queen, who
made him practically the omnipotent counsellor and minister of her
policy.

The scandal of this singular preference, which was at once announced as
a vulgar love affair, spread rapidly over all Scotland, and gave rise to
loud complaints by the Protestants, headed by John Knox, who preached
against the “woman of Babylon” and her low-bred paramour. The Queen was
blind to the consequences of her infatuation for this lute player, a
mere servant, who moreover, by his Italian nationality and Catholic
religion, defied the narrow prejudices of the Scotch people. In spite
of her beauty, youth, and loveliness the Queen became very unpopular,
not only with the nobility, but with the great mass of the people.

At that very time Mary Stuart was induced, mainly through the influence
of Queen Elizabeth of England, to contract a marriage with Henry
Darnley, a young Scot of the almost royal house of Lennox, of great
physical, although somewhat effeminate, beauty, but of very inferior
mind. On seeing this young Adonis, Mary Stuart fell immediately and very
desperately in love with him, while it was noticed that Darnley showed
much greater coldness than men generally manifested in their gallantry
toward her. Darnley, descending from a daughter of Henry the Eighth, had
perhaps as good a title to the crown of England as Mary Stuart, and by a
marriage of these two claimants, it was expected that their interests
would be consolidated and consequently strengthened. The interest which
Queen Elizabeth of England had to promote this marriage was her hope of
lowering Queen Mary’s standing and authority in the eyes of her many
Catholic adherents in England by this marriage with an English
subject,--an intention in which Elizabeth was largely successful. In
spite of the strong opposition of a number of the most prominent Scotch
nobles and most notably of Lord Murray, Mary’s half-brother, the
marriage was consummated on the twenty-ninth of July, 1565. On the other
hand. David Rizzio, Mary’s Italian secretary and confidant, had very
warmly advocated and promoted the marriage, and Darnley openly paid
court to him, expecting great results from his influence over the Queen.
Why Rizzio should have so eagerly encouraged the

[Illustration: LORD DARNLEY]

marriage is involved in doubt. Very likely the scandalous stories
circulated about the Queen’s relations to Rizzio were mere inventions;
and Rizzio, who moreover was deformed and ugly, far from being the
Queen’s lover, was only ambitious; he hoped to have even a greater share
of political authority under a nominal king, whom he recognized as an
intellectual nonentity, but whose personal beauty diverted the young
Queen’s thoughts from the cares of government.

During the first months after the wedding Rizzio’s expectations were
fully realized. The young Queen in the transport of her passion for
Darnley paid no attention to government affairs; her whole mind and soul
seemed to be enwrapped in her love for her young husband; apparently she
cared for nothing else but to caress him and to shower her favors upon
him. She conferred upon him the title of king, without, however, giving
him the attributes of royal power, which she reserved for herself. If
Darnley had been a man of greater mental calibre he could very easily
have made himself king in fact as well as in name; but he was a weakling
in every respect. After the first few weeks had passed away in the
closest intimacy with her consort, Mary’s extreme fondness, not to say
idolatry, of him, entirely disappeared, and in a very short time her
conduct toward him assumed a degree of estrangement and coldness which
contrasted strangely with the cordiality which had preceded them. Mary’s
full confidence and intimacy turned once more toward Rizzio, whose
ascendency over her mind seemed to be greater than ever before. More
than anybody else Darnley was dissatisfied with this turn of affairs. He
saw that the chance of empire had slipped away from him, and he found
that it was impossible for him to recover his former standing with the
Queen. In vain he tried to be admitted to a direction of the government
affairs and to perform some of the duties which seemed to pertain to his
exalted station in the state; but Queen Mary obstinately refused to
accede to these demands. Darnley, who ascribed this refusal, in part at
least, to Rizzio’s influence, then joined the party of political
malcontents who, either from motives of personal ambition or of
religious antipathy, were anxious to bring about the overthrow of the
Italian favorite and place a national and, if possible, a Protestant
ministry in power. To carry out this plan they won Darnley over to their
side, and filled his mind with dark insinuations and jealousy against
Rizzio. It seems they also promised him a co-regency with the Queen, and
full royal authority equal to hers in case the much-hated Italian should
be removed.

These prospects were sufficient to inflame Darnley’s ambition and make
him a willing tool in the hands of Rizzio’s enemies. He did not shrink
even from murder, and committed it openly and defiantly. As soon as the
conviction had been established in his mind that Rizzio stood in the way
of his ambition, he resolved upon his assassination, which was not only
to lead to his own aggrandizement, but also to punish Mary for having
preferred the Italian to him. He did not wait long to carry his plan
into execution; and the brutality and reckless ferocity with which the
murder was committed were even more atrocious and repulsive than the
crime itself. Only a brute and cowardly knave could have planned it.

The murder was committed on the evening of Sunday, the ninth of March,
1566, in the Queen’s private dining-room in the palace of Holyrood,
adjoining her bedroom. The Queen was there with the Countess of Argyle,
one or two other ladies, and Rizzio, her secretary. The best of feeling
and humor prevailed in the little party. There was not the least
indication or suspicion of impending trouble or danger. Nevertheless an
armed force of five hundred adherents of the conspirators, under the
lead of one of Darnley’s lieutenants, had been posted on the outside so
as to surround the palace entirely. The greatest caution had been
observed to avoid all noise, and the first intimation that something was
wrong was conveyed to the little party in the dining-room by the sudden
appearance of Darnley. With great familiarity he throws his arm around
the Queen’s waist. He is almost immediately followed by Ruthven, one of
his friends, who is clad in full armor and is ghastly pale from
excitement and fear. The Queen haughtily commands him to leave the room;
but before he can answer, her bedroom is filled with men bearing torches
and brandishing their swords, nearly all under the influence of liquor,
and calling with loud and threatening voices for Rizzio. The Italian
knows immediately what this scene means. He jumps from his seat and
takes refuge behind the Queen, clutching her gown with the grasp of
despair and imploring her to save his life. Mary Stuart at this moment
stands erect in the consciousness of her outraged dignity, her eyes
sparkling with indignation and wrath, and trying to protect Rizzio
against the crowd of aggressors who are pushing up to her, upsetting the
table on which she leans her hand, and trying to push her aside in order
to get at Rizzio. For a few moments she succeeds in keeping them at bay;
but then it is Darnley who comes to their rescue. He seizes the Queen,
tries to push her away, and takes hold of Rizzio’s hand in order to make
him loose his grasp of Mary’s gown. In this struggle Mary has partly
uncovered the Italian, and one of the conspirators, espying the
opportunity, plunges a dagger over Mary’s shoulder into Rizzio’s breast.
It is a signal for a general assault on the unfortunate victim. Like
madmen they rush upon him from all sides; they drag him from behind the
Queen, who is herself in danger of being slain; they beat him, they kick
him, they plunge their swords, their knives, their daggers into his
bleeding and mutilated body, they pull him by the hair, lifeless and
maimed as he is, through the dining-room, through the bedroom, to the
outer door of the antechamber, and only desist when they see that it is
nothing but a corpse which they are maltreating.

The dead silence which suddenly follows gives notice to Mary that the
horrid crime has been fully committed, that her favorite lies prostrate
and silenced forever at the threshold of her bedroom. What wonder that
in that terrible hour thoughts of revenge and hatred against Darnley,
the leader of this gang of savages and murderers, arise in her brain,
never to leave it again?

       *       *       *       *       *

The assassination of Rizzio had opened a chasm between Mary Stuart and
Darnley which nothing but his own blood could fill up. From the very
first moment it became evident--and the Queen made no secret of it--that
Mary Stuart intended to resent the foul murder of one who, if he had not
been her lover, had enjoyed her confidence and her friendship, and whom
not even her personal intercession had been able to save from a most
cruel and entirely undeserved death. Immediately after the murder, when
Ruthven came back to her presence, with the blood-stained dagger still
in his hand, and demanded wine, she answered: “It shall be dear blood to
some of you!” Nor would she permit the blood of Rizzio to be washed off
the floor; she wished that it should forever remain as a mark of the
murder which had been committed there, and she ordered a partition to be
built between the grand staircase and the door of the antechamber
leading to her bedroom, in order to protect the blood-stained floor from
being desecrated by the feet of visitors. In this condition the Palace
has remained for centuries and the stains caused by Rizzio’s blood have
withstood the lapse of hundreds of years.

The halcyon days which Mary had tried to create for herself at
Holyrood--the days and hours which she had hoped would console her by
poetry, music, and song for her absence from France--had come to a
sudden and cruel end. The conspirators were not satisfied with having
slain Rizzio; his murder was only the unavoidable means to accomplish a
certain purpose,--to get control of the government. They kept the Queen
in close captivity and would not permit any of her friends, not even her
ladies, to see or confer with her. It was then that Mary resorted to her
great power of duplicity. Carefully concealing the profound horror and
disgust with which the sight of Darnley filled her, she convinced him
easily that her interests and his were identical, that his strength lay
in his exalted station as consort of the Queen, and that their continued
estrangement and enmity would only lead to the elevation of her
half-brother, Lord Murray, or some other great nobleman. Darnley was
only too easily persuaded; he fell readily into the trap which the
deceitful Queen had set for him. In his overweening vanity, and
convinced of his own invincibility, he ascribed the passionate appeals
and the affectionate solicitations of the Queen for his support to a
renewal of her former love and passion for him. Carried away by her
tenderness and loveliness, he promised to release her from her captivity
and to abduct her to Dunbar castle, where she would be secure from any
plots of her enemies. Darnley induced a number of his personal friends
and adherents to join him in this undertaking, and a few nights later
the flight from Holyrood to Dunbar was effected with complete success.

Darnley, after having thus separated his cause from that of the enemies
of the Queen,--who were seriously debating whether she should be
imprisoned for life, exiled from the country, or put to death,--went a
step further. He openly denounced the assassination of Rizzio as an
inexcusable crime, and disclaimed all previous knowledge of and
complicity in it. Nobody believed him,--neither the Queen, who had seen
his active participation in the murder when he could easily have
prevented it; nor the conspirators, who knew that he had planned all the
details, had helped in its execution, and had promised to protect those
who would take a hand in it. But Darnley’s lying declaration served the
political aims of the Queen well. From Dunbar she issued an appeal to
the loyal people and nobles of Scotland, imploring their assistance
against the rebels who had driven her from Edinburgh and had insulted
and threatened her in her own palace, and using the presence and the
declaration of the King to contradict the stories and accusations
circulated by the conspirators and “rebels” against her scandalous
private life. Eight thousand loyal Scots responded to this appeal of
their Queen, and at the head of this enthusiastic army Queen Mary and
her husband returned to Edinburgh and once more took possession of
Holyrood.

It was not long before the Queen threw off the mask of affection for
Darnley, which she had assumed for political purposes, and openly again
showed that aversion which she really felt for him. Not even the birth
of her son, who afterwards as James the Sixth ruled over Scotland and as
James the First over England, changed the strained relations between
husband and wife. There seems to be no doubt that the new cause of these
strained relations, which grew more apparent from day to day, was a
criminal and adulterous love affair which had quite suddenly sprung up
between the Queen and one of the noblemen of her court, the Earl of
Bothwell.

The new favorite was a scion of one of the noblest and most renowned
families of Scotland, but his personal history was far from being
honorable. The mere fact that a man with such antecedents could appear
at court and be received in the very highest society is a sad comment on
the moral tone prevailing at that court and in that society. Bothwell
was at that time no longer a young man. When quite young he had one day
disappeared from the castle of his fathers and, on reaching the coast of
the North Sea, had joined a gang of adventurers who, as pirates,
infested those waters and were a terror to the merchant vessels of all
the nations of Europe. By natural ability, unbounded courage and daring
the young Scotchman had rapidly risen to a commanding position among the
wild corsairs; his name was repeated with fear and awe from the coasts
of Denmark to the west coast of Ireland. In one of the desperate
engagements with warships of the Hanseatic League he had lost one eye,
but had saved his life and his freedom. Many years of his life he had
passed in this wild and adventurous career. Then the news of the death
of his father reached him, and one morning he reappeared in his
ancestral home to take possession of his vast domain. The turbulent
condition of Scotland, the civil war between Protestants and Catholics,
the struggles for supremacy between the crown and the nobility, were
congenial to his adventurous and reckless spirit. He had been among the
first to greet Mary Stuart on her arrival from France and had shown her,
from the first day he saw her, an enthusiastic, almost worshipful
devotion. He was a passionate adorer of female beauty, and the romantic
halo of his past life which surrounded his brow had secured for him
triumphs in love-affairs with some of the fairest women of the court. He
was among those who escorted Mary from Holyrood to Dunbar, and again he
was one of those who led her back in triumph from Dunbar to Edinburgh.
During this return march Bothwell distinguished himself by the skill of
his military dispositions, by his boldness and intrepidity, and
attracted the personal notice of the Queen.

At Holyrood the acquaintance between the Queen and the daring general
quickly ripened into love and intimacy, although the Queen took great
care at first to conceal the new passion which had taken possession of
her inflammable heart, even from her closest friends. But while these
efforts on the part of the Queen may have been successful in deceiving
her intimate friends, there were always eyes turned upon her which were
not so easily deceived,--and these eyes were those of the ambassadors
of England, France, and Spain accredited at her court. They watched her
conduct very attentively, and almost simultaneously reported to their
sovereigns the nascent favor with which the Queen looked upon Bothwell,
and the growing coldness which became noticeable between her and
Darnley. It was only a serious accident, which befell Bothwell soon
afterwards and which imperilled his life for several days, that revealed
the new passion of the Queen to the whole court and placed the new
favorite at the head of the government, with similar honors and similar
powers to those previously showered on Rizzio.

We are neither writing a personal history of Queen Mary, nor a political
history of her reign; we are merely writing a history of the
assassinations of which she was, so to speak, the central figure that
gave them world-wide celebrity. We have therefore carefully excluded
from our narration all political and biographical facts which were
either not directly connected with these assassinations or had not a
psychological bearing upon them.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have reached the period when Mary--blinded by passion and infatuated
with love for a man utterly unworthy of her, or to speak more correctly,
of the exalted position she occupied in the world--surrendered not only
herself, but also the dignity of the crown and the honor and the
interests of the realm to the Earl of Bothwell, known to the entire
court as a profligate and libertine of the worst sort and as a most
unscrupulous and reckless adventurer. It was this infatuation for
Bothwell and the shameless liaison she formed with him from which all of
Queen Mary’s sufferings and disasters now flowed in rapid succession.
Not even her incomparable beauty and loveliness could save her from the
contempt attached to this disgraceful liaison, of which she made soon no
more a secret than she had formerly made of her preference for Rizzio.
But while in her infatuation for the Italian singer the artistic taste
of the Queen was rather successfully used by her admirers as an excuse
for her enthusiastic preference for him, there was absolutely no excuse
for her liaison with Bothwell. And Bothwell did all he could do to
strengthen the unfavorable impression of Mary’s conduct by the haughty
and overbearing rudeness with which he treated the greatest lords and
the highest dignitaries of the kingdom, including the King himself, for
whom he openly showed the greatest contempt.

Outraged by the insults which he had to endure day after day and from
which the Queen herself did not seem to be willing to protect him,
Darnley suddenly left the court and went to Glasgow, where he took up
his residence in the house of his father, the Earl of Lennox. The King’s
sudden departure caused more unfavorable comment than the Queen had
anticipated. It greatly disconcerted her, because she was afraid that
from Glasgow Darnley might issue an appeal to the Scotch people, and
especially to the dissatisfied nobility, laying before them his
complaints and calling upon them to overthrow the disgraceful rule of an
adulterous wife and her paramour.

Soon the news came from Glasgow that Darnley had fallen seriously ill,
that he was suffering from the small-pox and was expected to die. The
Queen took advantage of this serious illness and once more resorted to
her power of dissimulation, which had served her so well after Rizzio’s
death. She intended now to employ it not only to temporarily deceive and
beguile her husband, but to decoy him into an ambush and put him to
death. Incredible as the enormity and ferocity of the crime may appear,
especially on the part of a young and beautiful woman distinguished by
so many mental advantages, there seems not to be the least doubt that
Mary, in going to Glasgow and appearing at the bedside of her sick
husband as a loving wife, had this horrid crime in view and successfully
paved the way for its execution. She again played with consummate art
the part of a loving and trembling wife, and deceived Darnley so fully
that he promised to follow her to Edinburgh as soon as the progress of
his convalescence would make it possible for him to undertake the
journey. Thus fully assured of Darnley’s forgiveness, she returned to
Holyrood and perfected there, together with Bothwell, the arrangements
for his murder.

When Darnley arrived at Edinburgh, a short time afterwards, he was not,
as he ought to have been, taken to the royal palace, where he could have
been cared for better than anywhere else, but to a private residence in
an isolated location in one of the suburbs of the city, whose salubrious
location, it was alleged, would facilitate the King’s rapid recovery.
Darnley himself was greatly surprised at these arrangements, especially
when he learned that the Queen would not take up her residence with him,
but would remain at the Palace. Apprehensions of some impending danger
haunted his mind, and he became melancholy and despondent. However, the
Queen by her appearance and the excess of her tenderness soon dispelled
his vague fears and convinced him that only care for his enfeebled
condition and the hope of quickening his convalescence had prompted her
to select his residence, from which he would be promptly removed after
his complete recovery. In order to reassure him fully, she remained
several nights with him, occupying a room immediately beneath his own,
and manifesting toward him the greatest affection and solicitude. One of
her pages slept in the same room with him, and five or six servants,
whom Bothwell had appointed, formed the entire household.

Late in the evening of February 9, 1567, the Queen left the house and
went back to Holyrood to pass the night there, because one of the
musicians attached to the royal chapel was to be married that night, and
she had promised to be at the wedding. It was while the
wedding-festivities were going on at Holyrood and while the Queen was
dancing with some of the courtiers in the most careless and unaffected
manner possible, that a terrific explosion took place which was heard
and felt in all parts of the city and at Holyrood. Soon the rumor spread
that the house of the King had been blown to atoms and that all the
inmates were buried under the ruins. This rumor was only partly true.
The morning light of the tenth of February revealed the fact that the
house had been blown up by means of an underground mine; but the corpse
of the King was not found among the ruins. On the contrary, it was
found, together with the corpse of the page, in an orchard adjoining the
house, and neither the King nor the page showed any marks of gunpowder;
but the bloated condition of their faces and the marks of finger-nails
on their necks showed that both had been choked to death and had been
left lying on the ground where the assassins had killed them. It was
then surmised that both the King and the page, having been disturbed in
their sleep by the approach of the assassins, had tried to make their
escape through the orchard, but had been overtaken in their flight and
slain. The explosion had unquestionably been intended to destroy all
vestiges of the crime by burying both the assassins and their victims
under the ruins, but it had either taken place too soon, before the
murderers could have carried the King and the page back to the house, or
the assassins had hurried away immediately after committing the deed. At
all events, Darnley was dead.

The evidences of premeditated murder were so plain that from the very
first not the least doubt was manifested as to the character of the
calamity. Neither was there the least uncertainty in the public mind as
to the author or authors of the terrible catastrophe and the
assassinations attending it. The public voice immediately named Bothwell
as the murderer and added, in a whisper, the name of the Queen as his
accomplice. In those times murders were committed so often that the
murderers in a majority of cases escaped unpunished. But in this case
the rank of the victim was so exalted, and moreover the circumstances
surrounding the crime were so damaging to the authority of the crown,
that public opinion demanding an investigation of the death of the King
could not be disregarded. The Queen, who, if innocent, should have been
the first to insist on a thorough investigation of the crime by which
her husband was killed, affected an absolute indifference in the matter.
She utterly disregarded the damaging rumors which openly charged
Bothwell with the murder, and by this indifference confirmed the
suspicion of her silent active (or at best, passive) participation in
the crime. The Queen even openly defied public opinion by leaving
Bothwell in the undisturbed possession of the honors and dignities she
had conferred upon him, and by adding new ones, showing the continued
favor the Earl enjoyed, in spite of the public clamor raised against
him. “But Banquo’s ghost would not go down!” The excitement and the
indignation of the people rose to the highest point. On her appearance
in the streets, the Queen was insulted by the women. She found it
necessary for her safety to leave Holyrood and seek refuge in the
fortified castle. Bothwell had the audacity to demand a public trial,
because the Earl of Lennox, Darnley’s father, had openly accused him of
the murder; and the cowardly judges, overawed by the power of the
accused, by the royal troops, by the authority of the Queen, acquitted
him, while the whole people considered and declared him guilty.

We have reached the end of this atrocious murder. Posterity holds Queen
Mary guilty of the crime of having murdered her young husband. Her
abduction by Bothwell and her marriage to him, although apparently
forced upon her, had been planned by the two murderers even before the
assassination. Mary’s long imprisonment and final execution at the
bidding of a cruel and jealous rival has often been deplored by
biographer, historian, and dramatist,--but were they more than a just
atonement for crimes as atrocious as they were unprecedented?



CHAPTER X

WILLIAM OF ORANGE

[Illustration: WILLIAM OF ORANGE]



CHAPTER X

ASSASSINATION OF WILLIAM OF ORANGE

(July 10, 1584)


It was said by one of the wild revolutionists of France, in extenuation
of his incessant demands for the execution of a larger number of the
nobility, that the tree of liberty, to grow vigorously, should be
watered with plenty of blood. Alas! The history of the republics of the
world, not only since the great French Revolution of 1789, but at all
times, both ancient and modern, proves the justice of this assertion,
but none furnishes a more convincing proof of it than the history of the
Dutch Republic in its heroic struggle against the gigantic power of
Spain and other monarchical nations. At the very threshold of that
history stands the luminous figure of the great Prince of Orange,
William the Silent,--warrior, statesman, orator, and patriot; whose
assassination, closely following upon the murders of the night of St.
Bartholomew, is but the first of the crimes committed against the
illustrious men of the Dutch Republic--Olden Barnevelt, the brothers De
Witt, and others.

The assassination of William of Orange is of a semi-political and
semi-religious character. The revolt of the Netherlands against Spanish
rule, of which the Prince of Orange was the principal figure, originated
in religious conflicts between the Netherlanders--most of whom were
Calvinists or Lutherans--and the bigoted King of Spain, Philip the
Second, who was more Catholic than the Pope himself. It was one of the
fixed ideas of Philip the Second, a perfect monomania, that in the
immense empire over which he ruled, none but faithful believers in the
Catholic faith should be tolerated, and that all heretics or dissidents
should be exterminated with fire and sword. In the Pyrenean
peninsula--for Portugal was at this time annexed to Spain--this idea was
most radically carried out, and year after year the Inquisition, which
flourished there as the first institution of the state, handed over
thousands of victims, convicted or suspected of heresy, to a most cruel
death at the stake for the purpose of purifying the spiritual atmosphere
of the country. But when an effort was being made on the part of the
King to introduce the same system of spiritual purification into the
Netherlands, which he had inherited from his father, the Emperor Charles
the Fifth, and whose population was mostly of Germanic race, that effort
met with a most stubborn and almost insuperable resistance.

Already, under Charles the Fifth, all attempts to smother the Protestant
Reformation--which had entered the Netherlands both from Germany and
France and which had immediately found many adherents--had failed. The
Emperor, himself a Netherlander and familiar with the character of the
people, had deemed it prudent to abolish the Inquisition (at least in
name) and not to interfere too strongly with those personal rights of
the inhabitants which their municipal or provincial statutes guaranteed
to them. Moreover the Emperor had a very affable and popular way of
dealing with the people, and he could do a great many things which no
other ruler might have presumed to do. When Charles the Fifth abdicated
in 1555, the grief of the people of the Netherlands was not only
general, but sincere; they seemed to feel instinctively that the change
which was to occur in the government was full of impending dangers and
calamities for them. The personality of the new ruler fully justified
these apprehensions. Philip the Second came to the Netherlands from
England, where he had resided a short time as consort of Queen Mary, and
his reputation for bigotry, fanaticism, and cruelty had preceded his
arrival. Many of the acts of bloodshed and cruelty which were committed
under that reign were more or less justly imputed to his influence, and
his new subjects trembled at the prospects of similar scenes of
persecution and despotism. No wonder that on the twenty-fifth of
October, 1555, when the act of abdication was consummated at Brussels,
and when the infirm Emperor, leaning upon the shoulder of Prince William
of Orange, appeared before the representatives and high dignitaries of
all the provinces constituting the Netherlands, and ceded the government
to his son, who stood on his right side, a shudder passed through the
high assembly. Many eyes passed apprehensively from the open and kindly
countenance of the Emperor, then bathed in tears, to the sinister and
cruel features of King Philip. What a contrast also between the majestic
form and noble countenance of William of Orange and the small, feeble,
narrow-chested son of Charles, who with distrustful eyes looked down
upon this assemblage of nobles as if they were strangers or enemies, and
whom not even the glitter of royalty could invest with dignity,
although his features showed uncommon pride and haughtiness! The hopes
of the people of the Low Countries rested upon the one; their fears were
centred on the other.

Unquestionably it had been the Emperor’s intention to place William of
Orange by the side of his son as chief adviser and protector; but the
characters of the two were so different--the one broad, humane, manly;
the other narrow, bigoted, timid--that it soon became manifest that a
hearty coöperation of the two men for the welfare of the state was
impossible. Moreover the aspirations and tendencies in regard to the
government of the provinces which the two men entertained were
absolutely conflicting, the Prince being in favor of liberal
institutions and scrupulous observance of the guaranteed rights of the
provinces, while the King was illiberal and despotic, without regard for
the local customs and rights of the Netherlanders, anxious to
concentrate all powers in his hands and to subordinate the whole
government to his autocratic will.

These conflicting tendencies and these antipathies grew and became
intensified as the months and years passed by; consequently, when Philip
in 1559 left Brussels for Spain, he did not appoint the Prince of Orange
Governor-General of the Netherlands, to which position he was clearly
entitled, but conferred that honor with the title of regent upon his
half-sister, Margaret, Duchess of Parma, who shared his own fanatical
ideas. As her chief adviser he appointed Cardinal Granvella, a man of
great sagacity and talent, but filled with animosity against the enemies
of the Catholic Church, and in full though secret accord with the King
concerning the necessity of wiping out the privileges of the “arrogant
burghers of the Low Countries.” William of Orange was appointed
Stadtholder of Holland and Zealand, and a member of the Council of
State, a sort of cabinet for the Regent Duchess in which Cardinal
Granvella was the leading spirit. Several other prominent noblemen of
the Dutch provinces, Count Egmont, the conqueror of Gravelines, and
Count Hoorn, were also members of the Council of State; but they were in
a minority, and the Spanish or Cardinalistic party ruled its decisions
absolutely. All of these decisions were hostile to the guaranteed rights
of the Provinces; they interfered with freedom of conscience; they
reintroduced the Spanish Inquisition under the disguise of creating new
episcopal sees and attaching two inquisitors to each; and by
establishing Spanish garrisons in the fortified towns they violated the
constitutional right of the provinces that no foreign troops should be
stationed there. The protests of the Prince of Orange and of Counts
Egmont and Hoorn were of no avail, so these three distinguished members
refused to attend the sessions of the Council of State.

In the meantime a spirit of public dissatisfaction and disorder
manifested itself which showed to the sagacious Regent that the measures
enacted and enforced by Cardinal Granvella would lead to a revolt
against the Spanish régime. The people of Brussels showed their hatred
and contempt for the Cardinal in many ways. In public processions they
carried banners with insulting inscriptions or offensive caricatures and
cartoons exhibiting him in ridiculous positions. Alarmed at these
manifestations of public hostility, the Duchess Regent applied to the
King, imploring him to remove Granvella from his post as President of
the Council of State. The King reluctantly complied with the request,
but Granvella’s removal did not change the spirit of the Council; and it
was only too evident that its decisions were emanations from the King’s
own mind. When Count Egmont, who had gone to Madrid on a special mission
to plead for the personal and political rights of the Netherlanders,
urged upon the King to give them greater religious liberty and to annul
some of the stringent laws of the Council of State, Philip got into a
rage and exclaimed: “No, no, I would rather die a thousand deaths and
lose every square foot of my empire than permit the least change in our
religion!” And he added that the decrees of the Council of Trent, which
had recently been held, and which had affirmed anew the immutable
doctrines of the Catholic Church, should be rigidly enforced in all his
states. New instructions to that effect were sent to the Netherlands,
followed by new convictions and new executions.

It was at this perilous and critical time that William of Orange openly
accepted the Lutheran faith. Shortly before, he had been married to
Princess Anne of Saxony, a daughter of the famous Maurice, Elector of
Saxony, and a fervent Lutheran. William’s conversion to Protestantism
has been often ascribed to the influence of his wife, but it should be
remembered that William was born a prince of Nassau in Germany and the
son of Lutheran parents, and that his Catholicism dated only from the
time of his later education at the court of Charles the Fifth, where he
was placed as a page at the early age of nine years. William had never
forgotten the lessons of Protestantism which he had imbibed in his early
childhood, and while professing the Catholic faith in later years, he
had retained that respect and that affection for the principles of the
Reformation which so peculiarly qualified him to act as umpire and
leader in a contest in which religion played so conspicuous a part.

Up to that time the nobility had taken much less interest in the
religious quarrels than the lower classes of the people; but the
steadily increasing number of convictions and executions for heresy
aroused their fears that the Spanish monarch intended to abolish their
time-honored privileges and wished to substitute a Spanish autocracy for
their liberal self-government. Against this intention they loudly
protested, Catholics as well as Protestants, and bound themselves to
stand together in their resistance to further acts of aggression. They
presented petitions and protests to the Duchess Regent who received them
in a conciliatory spirit, and forwarded them to the King, recommending
at the same time greater leniency and moderation. But Philip the Second,
getting tired of the many complaints and remonstrances reaching him from
Brussels, and determined to stamp out heresy at whatever cost, sent the
Duke of Alva, the sternest and most cruel of all his commanders, at the
head of a considerable army to the Netherlands, with full powers to
restore order and to reëstablish the authority of the Catholic Church.
From the well-known character of the commander-in-chief it could not be
doubted that the King’s severe orders would be carried out in the most
cruel and unrelenting spirit, and that neither age nor sex nor rank
would be spared. That Alva’s mission would be successful, the King did
not doubt for a minute. But it was on his part a case of misplaced
judgment, because his narrow mind could not measure the difference
between the Jews and Moriscoes, and the Netherlanders: against the
former the policy of violence and compulsion had been successful;
against the latter that same policy was doomed to ignominious failure.
The rumor that he would come as a bloody avenger preceded Alva’s
arrival, and filled the hearts of the Netherlanders with terror. A
regular panic ensued, and an emigration _en masse_ was organized; it
looked as though the northern provinces were to be depopulated entirely
by this exodus of men, women and children, mostly belonging to the
mercantile and working classes, and taking their merchandise and their
household goods with them.

The sending of an army composed entirely of Spaniards and Italians into
the Netherlands was so flagrant a violation of the constitutional rights
of the provinces, which the King had sworn to maintain, that the Prince
of Orange thought the time for open resistance had come, and he
conferred with Egmont, Hoorn, and other prominent men concerning its
organization. But finding it impossible to organize united resistance
against Alva’s army, William of Orange, with his profound insight and
with his distrust in the Spanish King’s intentions, deemed it prudent to
leave the Netherlands and withdraw to his estates in Germany instead of
imperilling his head by remaining at Brussels. It was in vain that he
tried to persuade Egmont, to whom he was greatly attached, to accompany
him and to place his valuable life beyond the reach of the Spanish
“avenger.” Egmont’s openhearted and confiding character refused to
believe the sinister forebodings of the penetrating genius of his
friend; he relied on his immense popularity among the Netherlanders and
on the great services he had rendered, on the battle-field, to the
House of Hapsburg. He therefore remained at Brussels, and even welcomed
Alva on his arrival at the capital. The Spanish commander conducted
himself as the regent _de facto_ without paying much attention to the
Duchess, who still held that position nominally. One of his first
official acts was the appointment of a special tribunal, which he named
the Council of Troubles, composed exclusively of Spaniards, to try
charges of heresy and treason. The people, however, found another, and
more appropriate name for it. On account of the indecent haste and
rapidity with which persons were tried, convicted, and executed by this
Council, they named it “The Bloedraad” (The Council of Blood). The
number of victims was so great that gallows and scaffolds had to be
erected in all the cities and towns of the Netherlands, and that the
executioners were kept busy in beheading and quartering the heretics and
“traitors.” Counts Egmont and Hoorn had been arrested, soon after Alva’s
arrival, on the charge of treason; they were also tried before the Court
of Troubles and convicted on trumped-up charges. They were beheaded,
together with eighteen members of the nobility, at the public square of
Brussels.

This infamous act stirred up William of Orange to immediate action. What
he had foreseen and predicted had come to pass. Evidently it was Alva’s
intention to kill off the leaders in order to get control of the great
mass of the people without much difficulty or resistance. William of
Orange himself was charged with treason and summoned to appear before
the judges of the Court of Troubles. But since his appearance at
Brussels would have been equivalent to his conviction, he refused to
recognize the jurisdiction of the court, claiming that as a knight of
the Golden Fleece he had the right to be tried by the King personally
and by no other judges than his peers. At the same time he published an
address to the King in which he defended his public actions in a
masterly manner, convincing every unbiased mind not only of his
patriotic devotion to his country, but also of his loyalty to his
sovereign in all his legitimate and constitutional acts of government.
The Duke of Alva took no further notice of this defence; but when the
day for William’s appearance at court had passed, he was sentenced to
death, and his property, personal and real, was confiscated as that of a
rebel and traitor.

In the meantime the Prince of Orange had not been idle in Germany. He
had appealed to his co-religionists for assistance, pointing out to the
Protestant princes that the cause of Protestantism itself was the issue
of the war in the Netherlands, and that the complete victory of the
Spanish army over the Netherlanders would be followed by an overthrow of
the Protestant churches, both Lutheran and Calvinistic, in Europe. He
succeeded in collecting a considerable army, which he divided into two
corps, placing the one under the command of his brother Lewis, Count of
Nassau, and invading Brabant with the other. The Count of Nassau was
defeated in battle and driven out of Frisia with heavy loss, while Alva
avoided giving battle to the Prince of Orange. By skilful manœuvres
the Spanish general tired out the patience of the German troops, and
when the severe cold of winter set in, the Prince, finding himself
without means of paying his soldiers and getting no support from the
inhabitants (who were overawed by the Spanish authorities), had to
disband his army and to return, temporarily, to Germany. Alva triumphed
and pompously reported to the Spanish King that both the rebellion and
heresy had been stamped out in the Netherlands, and that his presence
was hardly required there any longer. In his overweening vanity he went
even so far as to order a bronze monument to be erected in his own
honor, in which he was represented as a conqueror, standing with one
foot on a Dutch nobleman in full armor and with the other on a man of
the people, kneeling and with a Lutheran prayer-book in his hands.

It is not my intention to go into the details of the cruel war in the
Netherlands,--cruel even beyond human imagination,--to recount the
sufferings, the tortures, the atrocities, the martyrdom imposed upon the
unfortunate victims of political and religious persecution, conceived by
human fiends educated in the school of the Spanish Inquisition and
warmly applauded by him whom both his cotemporaries and posterity have
justly named “the demon of the South.” Such a war had never been seen
between nations claiming to be civilized; and never has patriotic
devotion in defence of home and country, of liberty and creed, been
carried to a higher degree than by those brave Netherlanders in the
sixteenth century. The world should never forget the immense service
which they rendered to mankind by victoriously maintaining the
principles of religious liberty, which, without their heroic
perseverance, would very likely have perished under the incubus of
Spanish despotism and the Spanish Inquisition. That they did not succumb
and perish must be considered one of the marvellous enigmas of history,
in which the finger of God is plainly visible. Immortal glory and
renown should be accorded to the gallant leader who, under the most
discouraging and desperate circumstances, never lost hope and confidence
in the righteousness and final triumph of his cause, and who, undaunted
by personal danger and persecution, never wavered in his loyalty to
principle, and held high the banner of popular sovereignty and
individual liberty, until the pistol shot of a hired assassin
interrupted his glorious career.

If to-day, after the lapse of three centuries, we look back upon that
career, our admiration for William of Orange grows steadily. We follow
him from his first appearance on the public stage of the Netherlands, as
a friend and confidant of Charles the Fifth, as a loyal adviser of the
Duchess Regent, as a loyal subject pleading with Philip the Second and
warning him to respect the rights of citizenship and religion of the
Netherlanders,--pleading and warning in vain; we behold him unsheathing
his sword for the defence and, when they appeared to be lost, for the
recovery of those rights, toiling, struggling, fighting for the people,
always subordinating his own interests to those of the nation and to the
sublime cause of which he was the acknowledged champion; we recognize
him as the first in the field, the first in the council-room, filling
his countrymen with an enthusiasm and a confidence which alone could
sustain them in undergoing sufferings and hardships unequalled in
history. Thus he stands before us fully realizing and even surpassing
the eulogy which Goethe wrote for the monument of another national hero,
perhaps worthy, but certainly not so worthy of it as William the
Silent:--

    “In advance or retreat,
     In success or defeat,
     Ever conscious and great,
     Ever watchful to see,
     From foreign dominion he made us free!”

In translating Goethe’s inscription on the famous Blücher monument at
Rostock we were strongly impressed with the fact that it was even better
adapted for a monument of the great Prince of Orange than for that of
the indomitable, but rather reckless, “Marshal Vorwärts.”

The King of Spain had from the first day of his accession known the
powerful influence which the Prince of Orange exerted in the
Netherlands. The Prince stood without a rival at the head of the
nobility, and his eminent talents enhanced the authority which his
illustrious birth had secured for him. The King was also informed by his
special representatives--the Duchess Regent, Granvella, the Duke of
Alva, Don John of Austria, and others--that this authority was steadily
increasing, that the great mass of the people idolized the Prince, that
his wish was a law for the burghers, and that practically the revolt,
its failure or success, depended on him. The exalted character of the
Prince precluded the very idea of winning him over to the other side by
means of high distinctions or honors, much less by pecuniary bribes or
corruption, and nothing remained therefore for the King to do, if he
wanted to get rid of the dangerous popular leader, who held a number of
the provinces entirely under his sway, than to place him beyond the pale
of the law and to offer a high reward for his head. This method of
removing rivals or enemies was not unusual in those days; and it should
cause no surprise that the monarch who is, and very likely justly,
suspected of having ordered the murder of his half-brother, Don Juan
d’Austria, and also that of his own son, Don Carlos, was perfectly
willing to adopt this method of getting rid of the Prince of Orange, who
in his eyes was not only a rebel, but also a heretic, and as such
deserved death a hundredfold. The price he put on the Prince’s
head--twenty-five thousand ducats--showed sufficiently the importance he
attached to his life, and how willing he was to tempt assassins by the
enormous sum of the reward.

The King, who evidently had experience in such matters, had not
miscalculated the temptation, for several attempts were made on the
Prince’s life in consequence; but they always failed, and it would
almost seem as if that life was under the special protection of
Providence that it might carry out the plans predestined for it. In
1582, Juan Jaureguy, a young man in the employ of a Spanish merchant of
Antwerp, and a religious fanatic, fired a pistol shot at the Prince
which came very near killing him. The ball entered the head under the
right ear, passed through the roof of the mouth, breaking several teeth,
and came out under the left jaw-bone. For a while the Prince’s life was
despaired of, but he finally rallied and recovered. His would-be
assassin was immediately killed, and his accomplices, of whom there were
several, were publicly strangled and quartered. In order to deter others
from making attempts on the Prince’s life, the ghastly remains of these
accomplices, one of them a Dominican monk, were nailed to the gates of
Antwerp. The joy at the Prince’s recovery was general, and thanksgiving
days, with divine service in the churches and public halls, were held
in a number of the provinces. Unfortunately neither these public
demonstrations of gratitude and delight, nor the terrible warnings
addressed to assassins were sufficient to protect a life so valuable to
his country and to the world.

Another assassin was more successful than Jaureguy. The scene of the
murder, which took place on the tenth day of July, 1584, was the city of
Delft in Holland. Shortly after the noon hour of that day a
common-looking man, who had found access to the Prince’s residence for
the purpose of securing a passport, approached the Prince as he came
from the dining-hall and fired three shots at him, one passing through
the stomach and causing his death after a very short while. The assassin
was a man still young, less than thirty years of age. He was a
Frenchman, Balthasar Gérard by name, who had come from his home in
Franche-Comté or Burgundy to carry out his hellish design, which was
inspired by religious fanaticism and encouraged by Jesuits of the
College of Trèves. Through these he was introduced to the Duke of Parma,
then Governor-General of the Netherlands, who promised him the royal
reward in case of success, and other royal favors besides. Gérard had
made his preparations for the murder with considerable circumspection;
these preparations were very similar to those which Booth made for his
escape after the murder of Abraham Lincoln, and just like Booth, Gérard
stumbled and fell in making his escape and hurt himself, and this led to
his arrest.

After having undergone the most terrible tortures, his joints having
been wrenched and his body nearly roasted alive, he was executed in the
most cruel manner imaginable. His right hand was burnt off with red-hot
irons; the flesh was torn from half a dozen different parts of his body,
which was then broken on the wheel. Gérard was still alive; his vitality
was wonderful. The executioners then disembowelled and quartered him;
tore out his heart and flung it in his face. It was then only that the
unfortunate man breathed his last. His head was then cut off and placed
on a pike of a gate in the rear of the Prince’s residence, and the four
parts of his body were fastened to the four gates of the city. This
cruel mutilation and dismemberment of the assassin’s body was hardly
sufficient to satisfy the vengeance of the people; the certainty that
the King of Spain stooped even to murder of the basest sort to recover
his sovereignty over the Netherlands exalted their desire for absolute
and lasting national independence to a sort of religious dogma which
made all hope of peace illusory.

When the assassin’s hand cut short the life of the Prince of Orange, he
had not completed the great work for which he had toiled, fought,
suffered and died. But part of that work had been done, and it had been
done so well and so thoroughly that the Republic stood on a firm
foundation ready to receive the other provinces which were still in the
power of Spain as a fitting superstructure. For this reason history
recognizes William the Silent as the founder of the Dutch Republic and
of the independence of the United Provinces.

To Americans the character of William the Silent is of special interest
because it bears, in many respects, a striking resemblance to that of
George Washington. Both were the principal figures in wars for the
independence of their countries; both were soldiers and statesmen of a
high order. If Washington was very likely the greater general, William
the Silent was very likely the greater statesman, and the success of the
American cause would have been as impossible without Washington as the
failure of the Dutch struggle would have been certain without William of
Orange. Both were sterling patriots and subordinated their own interests
to those of the nations they represented; but in this respect Washington
was, perhaps, superior to William, who had an eye on the possibilities
which might arise after a successful issue of the war. It should be
remembered, however, that William of Orange was a prince and sovereign
before he was made the head of the Netherlanders rising in revolt
against Spain, and that, as a sovereign, it was natural for him to look
after the interests of his family and dynasty. As far as mental and
moral qualifications are concerned, both men were distinguished by that
perfect equilibrium of powers of the mind and powers of the soul, which
is but rarely found in men of the highest rank. Neither of these
statesmen had the capacity of immediately conceiving and executing plans
of a decisive character. Their minds, although full of resources, worked
slowly in elaborating such plans; they weighed and hesitated before
taking action; but as soon as their minds had been made up and a plan
had been resolved upon, they acted without wavering, and held on to it
until success or failure resulted from it. The great respect in which
Washington has been always held by British historians and statesmen is,
perhaps, the noblest tribute that can be paid to his character and
abilities. The fact that Philip the Second relied less on his splendid
armies, led by some of the ablest generals of Europe, and on his
powerful navy, than on the death of William the Silent is, perhaps, the
greatest eulogy which can be given to the great founder of the Dutch
Republic. Unquestionably the Spanish monarch considered the twenty-five
thousand gold pieces which he offered for the assassination of William
of Orange, although an enormous sum for those times, but a very cheap
equivalent for the life of a man who had been the very life and soul,
the inspiring genius of the rebellious Dutch provinces. If monuments of
foreign statesmen and rulers are to be erected on American soil, no
fitter and no worthier man can be found for that honor than William the
Silent.



CHAPTER XI

IVAN THE TERRIBLE

[Illustration: IVAN THE TERRIBLE]



CHAPTER XI

ASSASSINATIONS BY IVAN THE TERRIBLE

(1560-1584)


Russian history abounds in instances of famous assassinations. Sometimes
these murders were committed by the rulers of Russia, at other times
these rulers themselves were the victims. Ivan the Fourth, whose very
surname, “the Terrible,” sufficiently indicates his character, was one
of the most cruel and inhuman monarchs who ever ruled over a nation,
either in ancient or modern times. It is therefore not one famous
assassination which we wish to describe, but a series of monstrous
crimes, unparalleled in history as the acts of one individual.

Ivan was only three years old when his father died. A regency was
formed, composed of his mother and a council of boyars, belonging to
different factions, who were constantly at war with one another. At no
time had Russia been more poorly governed. As Ivan grew up, he was
despised and maltreated by the haughty nobility; his favorites were
abused. In order to divert his mind from nobler occupations and keep him
in profound ignorance of public affairs, he was amused and entertained
with coarse and brutal games which developed his innate cruelty and
ferocity, and made him, at an early age, the terror of those who were
subordinated to him. He delighted in torturing and slowly killing
domestic animals, and also in crippling and killing old men and old
women whom he encountered in the streets while riding fast horses or
driving a carriage like a madman, without looking either right or left.
He was a mere boy yet--hardly fourteen--when the boyars began to fear
him and predicted a reign of terror when he should assume the reins of
government.

At seventeen, he dissolved the regency and declared his intention to
reign for himself. He also wanted to get married, and sent out
messengers to the different provinces of the Empire to pick out the most
beautiful young girls and send them to the capital, that he might choose
a wife from among their number. Many noblemen hid their handsome
daughters, or sent them far away from home on hearing of the Czar’s
intention. His reputation for excessive cruelty had reached already the
remotest parts of the Empire, and nearly every boyar trembled at the
mere idea of becoming his father-in-law. But the messenger succeeded
nevertheless in bringing together several hundred young girls of
extraordinary beauty, and sent them to the capital. Ivan then chose from
their number Anastasia Romanowna, a young girl of great beauty and great
brilliancy of mind. He fell desperately in love with her, and through
the superiority of her mind she gained a great influence over him, and
succeeded even in keeping his cruelty in check.

Ivan was a man of natural ability. He had some striking qualities, and
might have been a great ruler if his education had been entrusted to
competent and wise teachers. At an early age he learned the art of
dissembling to perfection, and possessed the rare faculty of keeping
his plans and intentions secret even from his closest friends. It was
only after the conquest of Kasan that he threw off the mask. Until then
he had been exceedingly friendly and kind to a number of the powerful
noblemen, who considered themselves almost his peers in rank and birth.
But when that conquest had added to his power and authority, he suddenly
said to his boyars: “At last I am free! God has made me the master over
all. Beware!” Again it was his wife, Anastasia Romanowna, who with rare
political sagacity prevented him from too openly showing hostility and
impatience at their pretentious conduct. He was very young, and could
afford to wait. But in 1560, when Ivan was only twenty-nine years old,
Anastasia, his best friend and his ablest counsellor, died, and he found
no loving hand to restrain his passions and keep his cruelty and
ferocity in check. Nevertheless, for some time after her death the
softening influence of his wife (whom he had really loved) over his
cruel nature made itself felt, and for the next four years he proceeded
rather cautiously. He considered all the boyars his enemies and
traitors; and he commenced murdering them, one at a time.

In 1564 he threw off all restraint. He suddenly disappeared with all his
soldiers and servants, and rumors were circulated that he intended to
abdicate the crown and to retire from public life. The abject fear in
which the people had lived for thirty years had fully demoralized them.
Boyars, clergymen, and the great mass of the people went nearly crazy at
the idea that their “dear little father” would no longer rule over them.
At last they discovered his place of retirement, and the manifestations
of public delight at this discovery were almost boundless. Delegation
after delegation waited upon him and implored him on their knees that he
might return to his capital and continue to govern them. At last Ivan
consented to return, but he consented conditionally. He demanded--and
they all cheerfully agreed to the demand--that he should have full and
absolute power to punish all his enemies and all traitors by banishment
or death and confiscation of their property, without being interfered
with, even by the clergy. It was a regular _coup d’état_. From this act
dates the absolute rule of the emperors of Russia, and Ivan the Fourth
thenceforth took the official title of “Czar of all the Russias,” which
his successors have retained to the present day.

Ivan had carefully matured his plan. He took possession of a certain
number of cities and country districts, expelled the proprietors from
them, declared them territory forfeited to the government, and
distributed them among certain of his own adherents upon whose fidelity
he could count. These adherents generally were taken from the lowest
classes of the people, knew no other law than the will of their master,
and obeyed him blindly. While confiscating all these estates without
mercy or hesitation, on the most trivial or far-fetched pretexts, he was
shrewd enough to respect constitutional rights in other parts of the
Empire. His plan was to increase the imperial private domains gradually
to enormous proportions by dispossessing year after year the legitimate
proprietors of the soil, and by this method to destroy the power of the
nobility. In order to accomplish this purpose he did not hesitate to
employ the most cruel and disreputable means for the conviction and
punishment of his intended victims.

One of his favorite ways for entrapping and punishing a rich boyar was
to order one of the servants employed in the imperial household to steal
jewelry or other valuables, and then to seek refuge in the boyar’s
residence. Of course, the fugitive was closely pursued by the Czar’s
guards, drawn from his hiding-place, and then massacred together with
the boyar and his family, who, the Czar pretended to believe, were the
thief’s accomplices and deserved death as well as the offender. But much
oftener the terrible Czar rushed down, with a numerous suite of his
followers, upon the residence of a wealthy boyar, put all the men, the
children and the old women of the domain to the sword, carried off the
young women and girls, and abandoned them on the highways after he and
his gang had satisfied their desires on them. On the trumped up charge
that Grand Duke Wladimir, his own cousin, as well as the Grand Duke’s
wife and grown daughters had participated in a conspiracy against the
Czar’s life, he forced him to commit suicide by drinking poison, while
the Grand Duchess and her beautiful young daughters, and all their
ladies of honor and female servants, were divested of their garments,
exposed in a state of complete nudity on the market space of the town
adjacent to their domain, and afterwards butchered in cold blood.
Wladimir’s immense wealth and all his real estate were confiscated by
the crown. In this manner Ivan succeeded in overpowering the boyars, one
after another, in a very short time, and acquiring immense wealth. He
visited the different provinces and departments in succession, and
wherever he appeared he left a track of desolation, rapine, and murder.
From the capital of each province he organized marauding tours in all
directions, placing each under the command of an officer on whose
devotion to himself and ferocity to others he could count. But the most
terrible expeditions were those which he commanded himself. It can
truthfully be said that wherever Ivan “visited,” he destroyed everything
in sight,--not only the human inhabitants, but also the farm and
domestic animals, even dogs and cats. He took also a pleasure in
draining ponds and creeks, so as to cause the fish to die, and after
having killed or mutilated all things living, he ordered the buildings
to be set on fire, and left the scene of his cruelty and lust amidst the
wild huzzas of his comrades. No civilized, or half-civilized country had
ever witnessed such atrocities on the part of its own ruler.

If Ivan was not travelling and marauding he resided generally in the
Alexandrowna Convent, which he had strongly fortified. This convent,
situated in the neighborhood of Moscow, and surrounded by dense forests,
was not only the scene of his bestial orgies and excesses, and of his
more than beastly cruelty, but also of his hypocritical zeal for
religion and divine service. The convent, although transformed into a
palace, remained still a convent. Ivan’s most abject and infamous
favorites were acting as monks, while Ivan himself performed the
functions of the pontiff. He also acted as a bell-ringer for the church.
Quite early in the morning, at four o’clock, mass was read and public
service was held in the church, lasting till seven o’clock. Regularly
every evening, from seven to eight o’clock, there was again divine
service. The time intervening between the dinner and the last church
service was employed by him in going to the torture rooms of the palace
where his victims--and there was always a number of them--were subjected
to the most excruciating pain, and in many cases tortured to death. To
be invited to these scenes of horror was a mark of imperial favor.

Ivan was never in better humor or happier than after having witnessed
the tortures or the execution of a man whom he had sacrificed to his
greed for wealth or to his vindictiveness. It is reported that one day
when one hundred and twenty persons were to be executed--either
strangled, hung, beheaded, or quartered--at Moscow, and when the
inhabitants of the streets near the place of the execution had fled in
horror from the neighborhood, the Czar sent out his soldiery and
compelled thousands of citizens to be spectators of the wholesale
butchery. He sat there himself on an elevated stage applauding the
torturers and executioners when, in his opinion, they had done their
task well and had prolonged the agony of the victim as much as possible.
When the cruel spectacle was over, he rose to his feet and addressed the
spectators as follows: “My loyal subjects! You have seen torture and
death! Some of you are horror-struck at what you have witnessed! My
punishment is severe, but it is just. All these men and women were
traitors to their Czar, and deserved to die. Answer me, was I right in
punishing them?” And the tremendous audience, almost frightened to
death, as with one voice replied: “Glory and long life to the Czar!
Death to the traitors!” The sight of blood, of suffering and of death
seemed to have an intoxicating effect on this unparalleled monster, and
he never tired of it to the day of his death.

The high dignitaries of the Church fared no better at Ivan’s hands.
Whenever they stood in the way of his ambition, or whenever they
presumed to criticise him for his crimes, he treated them with the same
cruelty and inflicted the same punishments upon them as upon the boyars.
In that way he imposed silence on the clergy, and caused them even to
sanction his worst misdeeds. But one day, after an especially atrocious
marauding expedition of the Czar, the Metropolitan of Moscow mustered
sufficient courage to reprimand him publicly. On the twenty-second of
March, 1568, Ivan entered the cathedral, expecting the blessing of the
high-priest. The latter did not stir, but kept his eyes fixed upon a
picture representing Christ in all his glory. “Holy Father,” said one of
the boyars to the Metropolitan, “the Czar is here; bless him!” “I do not
recognize the Czar!” replied the Metropolitan. “Since this world was
created and the sun was placed in the skies, it has never been known
that a Czar has committed such atrocities and crimes in his own state as
ours has. Here in this church we offer our prayers to God, and beyond
its walls the blood of innocent Christians is shed in torrents.” Then
turning to Ivan, he said in a loud voice: “The very stones under thy
feet will rise against thee and cry out against thy crimes and
atrocities! God has bidden me tell you and warn you, even if I should
suffer death for my boldness!” And death was his punishment, although
not at the very moment. As a rebel, he was sentenced to imprisonment for
life at Twer. But it happened so that Ivan, the year after, passed
through Twer on one of his marauding expeditions. It was then that he
remembered Philip, the Metropolitan, who had accosted him so boldly. He
sent half a dozen of his soldiers to the prison, and they strangled the
Metropolitan without previous notice. This assassination paved the way
for many others among the clergy, until Ivan had so intimidated them
that thenceforth not even a whisper was heard among them against his
cruelties.

It then became apparent how readily the example of an infamous ruler is
followed by his courtiers and attendants. The boyars and officers
accompanying him on his expeditions of murder and pillage tried to
surpass him in iniquity; in their very appearance they showed their true
character, adorning themselves with symbols of their ferocity. When they
started on their marauding tour, they attached a bleeding dog’s-head and
a broom to the neck and saddle of each horse, signifying by these
decorations that they would bite like savage dogs and sweep off the
ground all they could find. Whomsoever they found on the highways they
would arrest and hang as traitors to the Czar, and in the villages and
towns on their route they would commit the most horrid excesses, sparing
neither sex nor age. If the inhabitants had fled at their approach, they
reported them to the Czar as his enemies who were plotting against his
life, and he issued decrees of vengeance declaring their property
confiscated and their lives forfeited. In this way they kept the
inhabitants at home waiting in terror for the arrival of their
tormentors.

After having decimated and terrorized the nobility and the clergy, Ivan
turned his attention principally to the merchants and wealthy citizens.
The commercial centres, in which a great amount of capital had
accumulated, were the special objects of his greed, especially if they
showed a spirit of independence. Prominent among these was Novgorod, the
ancient and wealthy city, proud of her free institutions and her honored
name. It was this pride and her great wealth which pointed out Novgorod
as a victim for Ivan’s wrath and cupidity, and the manner in which he
planned and executed his evil designs on the city shows his diabolical
genius at its height. Never has tyrant or despot conceived a more
sinister and treacherous plot for the ruin of a great city and for the
assassination of its inhabitants. The horrors of St. Bartholomew’s night
pale in comparison.

A Polish vagabond, on the personal command of Ivan, wrote a petition,
with the forged signatures of the Archbishop of Novgorod and a large
number of leading and wealthy citizens and addressed to the King of
Poland, in which the latter was supplicated to assume the sovereignty
over Novgorod and the province in which it was situated, and to assist
the citizens in their desire of shaking off the yoke of Ivan. By Ivan’s
direction this petition was concealed in the great cathedral, behind a
picture of the Holy Virgin. The Polish vagabond, after having executed
the task dictated to him, came to Moscow and charged the city of
Novgorod with treasonable designs against the Czar. Upon this
information the Czar immediately sent messengers with the Polish
vagabond to Novgorod, where, as a matter of course, the forged petition
was found hidden behind the picture of the Holy Virgin in the cathedral.
This was considered proof sufficient to condemn the whole city. No
further investigation was deemed necessary. Ivan kept quiet, but the
inhabitants knew what was in store for them. They trembled and waited.
They had not to wait a long time. Two weeks after the discovery, on the
twenty-first day of January, 1570, the first detachments of an imperial
army, commanded by some of Ivan’s most trusted and most cruel
lieutenants, entered the city. They immediately proceeded to seal the
doors of all the churches and chapels, and took possession of the
residences of the wealthy inhabitants, where they established their
headquarters. All traffic was suspended. No citizen was permitted to
leave the city, nor could goods of any kind be shipped from it. A dead
silence and fear hung over the city. Nobody knew what the Czar intended
to do, but that he would do something horrible, everybody felt, and also
that there was no escape from him.

At last he came. He took up his residence in the Archbishop’s palace. He
treated the priests and the Archbishop himself like servants; he drank
and feasted with his boyars, while the priests had to wait upon him at
table. And then suddenly, when he rose, he uttered a loud shout of
triumph, and this was the signal for his lieutenants to order a general
pillage throughout the city. Without any control by their superiors, the
soldiers committed plunder, murder, violence, and outrages of all kinds.
The treasures accumulated in the churches and large business houses Ivan
had reserved for himself, and his orders were strictly observed; nobody
touched what he had designated for his share. The palace of the
Archbishop became the scene of the most beastly orgies and excesses. The
wives and daughters of the noblest families were dragged before Ivan,
and after having picked out the most beautiful for his own use, he
turned the others over to his lieutenants and companions. Many of the
unfortunate women committed suicide, many others died from the effects
of the terrible abuse to which they had been subjected. The Czar knew no
pity. “Such scenes of horror, iniquity, and inhumanity,” says a foreign
eye-witness, “had not been seen in the world since the destruction of
Jerusalem.”

The work of devastation, pillage, murder, violence, and incendiarism
lasted five weeks. At last the Czar thought it was time to stop the
bloody carnival. The measure was full to overflowing,--not only the
measure of misery, affliction, distress, and death for the unfortunate
and innocent inhabitants of Novgorod, but also the measure of lust and
cruelty for himself. The constant indulgence in voluptuous excesses told
upon his constitution; he was worn out and surfeited with animal
gratification; his eyes had a vague, almost lifeless expression; his
herculean frame commenced to tremble, his legs to totter. No less than
twenty-seven thousand persons, men, women, and children, had perished;
there was not a family which did not lament one or more dead among its
members. The corpses were thrown into the river, and at some points they
had been thrown in in such numbers that the river was impeded in its
current. On the first day of the sixth week, Ivan called citizens living
in all the different streets of the city together and addressed them as
follows: “Men of Novgorod, and all of you who are still alive, pray to
God and thank him for your escape from peril; thank your Czar too, for
it is to his mercy and his fear of God that you owe your safety; and
thank also his soldiers, whose humane treatment saved you from death.
Pray to God that he may give us power and strength to vanquish all our
enemies! Much blood has been shed for the punishment of traitors. These
traitors are responsible to God for all that has happened here during
the last five weeks. May God have mercy on them. And now stop your
crying and weeping! Live and be happy, and may your city grow and
prosper!”

Cæsar Borgia could not have done better than this brutal monster of the
North. He was the genius of cruelty and hypocrisy personified in one
man.



CHAPTER XII

HENRY THE FOURTH OF FRANCE

[Illustration: HENRY IV.]



CHAPTER XII

ASSASSINATION OF HENRY THE FOURTH OF FRANCE

(May 14, 1610)


Religious wars--that is to say, civil wars for religious causes--had
desolated France for half a century, and tranquillity and apparent
harmony had finally been restored only by the genius of one man--Henry
the Fourth. He it was who issued the Edict of Nantes, conferring equal
religious and political rights upon the professors of both religions,
the Protestant and the Catholic.

A short time after Martin Luther had inaugurated the great movement of
religious reform in Germany, a similar movement had also been organized
in France; but it was only since 1536 and through the influential and
energetic agitation of John Calvin that it had assumed large dimensions
and acquired a really national importance. After the disastrous battle
of Pavia and after his release from Spanish captivity, King Francis the
First had ordered a cruel persecution against the Protestants for
political reasons, but it had utterly failed to put a stop to this
movement. On the contrary, a great many noblemen had joined the new
church and the originally purely religious movement had gradually
assumed a pronounced political character. But this change of tendency
only added fuel to the flame of intolerance and persecution. Not only
were hundreds of professors of the new church most cruelly executed on
the gallows or burnt alive for heresy, but among the Waldenses in
Provence and in the valleys bordering on Savoy a wholesale massacre was
inaugurated, which aimed at nothing less than their entire extirpation.
On account of their peaceful and industrial habits, these people had for
a long time enjoyed toleration in spite of their dissenting religious
opinions. No less than twenty flourishing villages were destroyed and
burned to the ground, and their entire population, men, women and
children, were butchered in the most barbarous manner. But it seemed as
if the very horror which such acts of inhumanity inspired, and the
heroic constancy and bravery with which these unfortunate victims of
religious fanaticism had sealed their convictions with their blood, had
rather increased than diminished the ranks of the Protestants. The
French translation of the Bible, which was secretly circulated
throughout the kingdom, proved also a powerful means of propagandism for
the principles of reform among the better educated and thinking classes.

Francis the First died in 1547 and was succeeded by his son, Henry the
Second, who considered the Protestant movement merely a political
question, and treated it as such. In Germany he supported the Protestant
princes in their fight against Charles the Fifth, but at home, in
France, he persecuted the adherents of Calvin even more persistently and
cruelly than his father had done. Hundreds of excellent citizens were
sent to the gallows or to the stake for heresy, and even the possession
or sale of a French Bible was deemed a sufficient crime to warrant the
death punishment. Henry the Second died after a reign of twelve years,
in 1559, from a wound received in a tournament and inflicted
accidentally by the captain of his own body-guard. His successor,
Francis the Second, the husband of Mary, Queen of Scotland, was entirely
under the control of his wife’s uncles, the Duke of Guise and the
Cardinal of Lorraine. For the Protestants matters grew worse and worse.
Francis the Second, who was merely a boy, died after a reign of less
than two years, and was succeeded by his brother Charles the Ninth, of
bloody St. Bartholomew Night’s memory. He was succeeded by Henry the
Third, who after an inglorious reign, in which torrents of blood had
flowed without quenching the fire of religious fanaticism, was
assassinated in 1589 by Jacques Clément, a young Dominican monk, who had
become exasperated at the concessions which the King had made to the
Protestant Church. Before expiring, King Henry the Third recognized the
young King of Navarre as his successor, who then ascended the throne of
France under the name of Henry the Fourth.

The wars which devastated France during the preceding three reigns were
waged almost without interruption; they were of a semi-religious and
semi-political character. These wars must be largely ascribed to the
pernicious influence of Catherine de Médicis, the wife of Henry the
Second, and the mother of his three sons, Francis the Second, Charles
the Ninth and Henry the Third. Her name stands in history as a synonym
for an astute, unscrupulous, cruel, and intriguing ruler and politician.
At the time of Henry the Third’s assassination, he was investing the
city of Paris, which was in the hands of his enemies, the League, under
the command of the Duke of Mayenne, who himself was aspiring to the
throne. It was therefore not an easy matter for the new King to assume
the reins of government, the half of his kingdom being in arms against
him, and the royal army itself, in whose ranks he was fighting, being
hostile to the religion he (as a Protestant) professed.

But Henry the Fourth was equal to the difficult task. In fact, he was
one of the most remarkable men who ever sat on a European throne. His
career up to that day had been extremely stormy; his escape from death
and perils innumerable was wonderful and stamped him as a man of
destiny. It is reported of him that when he was present one day as a
very young man at a brilliant reception at the French court, where
nearly all the prominent men of the French capital were assembled, he
strongly impressed the foreign ambassadors with the brilliancy of his
wit and the sagacity of his observations. One of them said: “In this
whole assemblage of dukes, princes and great dignitaries, I see but one
man fit to rule either as king or emperor,” and pointing to Henry of
Navarre he continued: “It is that young man with the eye of an eagle!”

Henry the Fourth was born in 1553, the son of Antony of Bourbon. His
mother was Jeanne d’Albret, only child of Henry the Second, King of
Navarre, and of his wife, Queen Margaret of Navarre, who has won a
lasting place in literature by her famous collection of novels, known as
the “Heptameron.” Much of the genius and _esprit_ which distinguished
the grandmother was inherited both by her daughter and her grandson.
Jeanne d’Albret was not only an excellent woman and mother, but she was
also an enthusiastic admirer and supporter of the Calvinistic doctrine,
and brought up her son in that faith. On account of her religion both
Philip the Second of Spain and Catherine de Médicis, Queen of France,
hated her intensely, and it seems that at an early day a sort of rivalry
arose between Catherine and the mother of the boy concerning his
education. Catherine maintained that, inasmuch as Henry was a royal
prince and might be called upon some day to ascend the throne of France,
it was absolutely necessary to educate him in the Catholic faith in
order to make him worthy to rule over a Catholic country and occupy a
throne whose occupant had for centuries been honored with the noble
title of the “eldest son of the Church.”

In this contest over the boy the mother remained victorious, and, true
to her religious convictions, she surrounded him with Protestant
professors. But Catherine de Médicis was not a woman to abandon a scheme
which she had formed and in which politics played a large part. She
therefore concocted a plan for the abduction of young Henry, which would
have succeeded and would have placed him under the immediate control of
Philip the Second of Spain, had it not been betrayed to Henry’s mother,
the Queen of Navarre. Henry was thereupon hurried off to La Rochelle,
the headquarters of the Protestant army, where he was soon placed in
nominal command of all the Protestant forces, although the famous
Admiral Coligny was its real leader.

We may fitly pass without comment the stormy years preceding Henry’s
elevation to the throne of France. In order to reconcile the Protestant
and the Catholic branches of the reigning dynasty, Catherine de Médicis
was successful in her plan of a marriage between Henry of Navarre and
her own daughter Marguerite, although the Pope hesitated a long time in
giving his permission to this family alliance, which was in every
respect a very unfortunate one. As far as Catherine de Médicis was
concerned, her principal intention in planning it was the hope of
continuing under Henry the Fourth’s reign (if he ever should become
king) the absolute rule which she had so successfully maintained under
the reign of her sons. Far from using her influence and authority to
secure, if possible, the happiness of the young couple, she held out to
both all possible temptations to lead them astray, and openly advanced
Henry’s liaisons with other beautiful ladies of the court. It is also
pretty well established by historical evidence that Catherine, in order
to withdraw Henry from the beneficial influence of his mother, caused
her death by poison in the very year of his marriage. At the massacre of
St. Bartholomew’s night, Henry escaped death by abjuring Protestantism,
King Charles the Ninth having left him the choice between going to mass
and suffering death. Henry preferred the former and professed
Catholicism as his religion until 1576, when he suddenly and secretly
left the court, and, retracting his forced abjuration, placed himself
once more at the head of the Protestant party.

In 1584 the death of the Duke of Anjou made Henry the legitimate heir to
the crown of France, and five years later, the death of Henry the Third
made him King. But only the southern provinces and the Protestants
recognized him as their king. The Catholics vehemently protested against
this heretical king, and refused obedience to him. The League, which
kept an army of 30,000 men in the field against him, and which was
supported by the King of Spain, not only refused to recognize him, but
proclaimed an aged uncle of his, the Cardinal de Bourbon, King of
France, and Spain adhered to this decision. The civil war between the
contending factions continued with greater fury and obstinacy than ever,
and it was in this campaign, in which Henry always fought against
tremendous odds, that he displayed his wonderful ability and tact as a
political and military leader. Finally his second conversion to
Catholicism on the twenty-third of July, 1593, which was simply a
political measure and not at all dictated by religious motives, decided
the succession to the throne in his favor, although it took years of
warfare and diplomatic negotiation to secure his recognition by Spain
and the leaders of the League.

Henry the Fourth’s greatest political achievement, by which he
manifested his far-seeing ability as a statesman, was the Edict of
Nantes, promulgated on the thirteenth of April, 1598. It guaranteed
freedom of conscience and equality before the law to Catholics and
Protestants; and it was the first great manifesto of religious
toleration issued by any ruler. But noble and high-minded as it was,
even if inspired only by political motives, the fanatics of the Catholic
Church would not forgive him. Unquestionably it was the Edict of Nantes
which caused his assassination,--an act of revenge with which the Church
paid back the injury it supposed it had received at his hands.

Henry, with the assistance of his great minister, the Duke of Sully,
devoted the first few years, after peace had been restored, to building
up the prosperity of the country, which had been distracted by war for
nearly forty years. In this he admirably succeeded. With wonderful
rapidity the monarchy recovered from the disasters and calamities of the
religious and civil wars. Without Henry’s success, late as it came, this
national improvement would have been impossible, and France would have
sunk into the same condition of intellectual lethargy and material decay
from which Spain has suffered for three centuries. But Henry’s ambition
went much beyond the borders of his kingdom. The house of Hapsburg, a
branch of which ruled Spain, appeared to him too dangerous for the
security and greatness of France. He supported the German Protestant
princes in their opposition to Austria, which wanted to take possession
of Juliers-Cleves, two German principalities, and sent an army of ten
thousand men to their assistance. Henry wanted to join personally this
army on the nineteenth of May, 1610. On the thirteenth of May he
published a decree appointing the Queen, Mary de Médicis, Regent of the
kingdom, and her coronation was celebrated on the same day with great
pomp.

On the fourteenth of May, the day after the coronation, the King was
assassinated by Francis Ravaillac in the Ferronière Street at Paris,
where his carriage had stopped a few minutes. It was this short delay
which gave Ravaillac a chance: he climbed upon the hind-wheel of the
carriage and stabbed the King twice with a long poniard, with deadly
effect. It was thus that the greatest King France has produced died at
the hands of a miserable fanatic, at a moment too when, according to the
statement of Sully, who knew him better than any other man, he had
formed a plan of establishing a great European confederation, founded on
the civil equality of Catholics and Protestants and on an equilibrium
of power among the great nations of Europe. Ravaillac was executed with
revolting barbarity on the twenty-seventh of May, but not even the
repeated application of the torture elicited the least information as to
the motives or the accomplices which he may have had in his crime.
Henry’s death was a cruel loss not only for France, but for the whole
world.

The assassination of Henry the Fourth ended in France the era of famous
political murders, which during the religious wars had taken off
Coligny, Henry of Guise, and the two kings, Henry the Third and Henry
the Fourth, all during one generation. But of these only the
assassination of Henry the Fourth has made a lasting and profound
impression on his contemporaries as well as on posterity. It has
enhanced his reputation and glory by enshrining his name among the great
martyrs of history. It was one of the most patriotic and high-minded
thoughts of Voltaire to make Henry the Fourth the hero of his epic poem
“La Henriade,” which although not ranking with the great poems of
Milton, Tasso, and Virgil, in poetic merit, is still a noble hymn of
liberty and a glorification of religious toleration, as well as of
Henry, its representative. It is uncertain whether the profound horror
which the assassination of Henry caused throughout the world, or the
terrible punishment inflicted on Ravaillac, caused assassins to desist
from their nefarious work, but certain it is that no new assassination
of a king or any member of the royal family of France took place from
the death of Henry the Fourth to the assassination of the Duc de Berry,
the presumptive heir of Charles the Tenth, in 1820. Not that no
attempts on the life of any or all of the French monarchs since the
days of Henry the Fourth were made; but all such attempts had failed,
and instead of killing the rulers, had only led to the cruel and
horrible execution of the conspirators.

Most remarkable among these was the assault of Damiens on King Louis the
Fifteenth, one of the most dissolute and worthless monarchs,--one who in
the gratification of his lusts was utterly oblivious of common decency
and shame. Louis the Fifteenth came nearer reviving the atrocious
immorality of Claudius, Caligula, Caracalla, Heliogabalus in the palace
of the Cæsars of ancient Rome, than any other modern monarch had done.
It was the age of Madame de Pompadour and the monstrosities of the “deer
park.” The French nation blushed at the excesses of the court, which
paved the way for the great Revolution, already dimly foreseen by some
ingenious observers, as one of the necessities of the future. It was at
this time, when public indignation, not to say public disgust, had
reached its culminating point, that an attempt on the life of the King
was made.

It was on the fifth of January, 1757, at six o’clock in the evening, on
a cold and dark day, that he stepped out of the doorway of the palace of
Versailles and went up to a carriage waiting for him to take him to
Trianon. All at once he felt that somebody had run against him, and at
the same time that he was bleeding from a wound in the side. He uttered
a cry of pain and alarm, and when the torch-bearers drew near and
surrounded him, the King noticed a man who alone among all those present
had kept his hat on. “This man has assaulted and wounded me!” exclaimed
the King, pointing to the man whose head remained covered. “Arrest him,
but do not harm him!” It makes almost a painful impression to find that
an embodiment of vice and debauchery like Louis the Fifteenth should at
such a moment have been inspired with feelings of mercy toward his
assassin, and should have used almost the identical words which fell
from the lips of the pure and high-minded President McKinley after
Czolgosz had fatally wounded him! But history records them, and we must
give even the devil his due.

The attempt on the King’s life caused a tremendous sensation in Paris,
where immediately the most exaggerated reports concerning the fatal
wounding of the King and the discovery of a widespread conspiracy to
assassinate him were circulated. Damiens was treated with the greatest
severity. As though the crime which he had tried to commit had been
really committed, and as though the stab he had given to the King had
had fatal effect, the criminal was treated as a regicide, and the
terrible machinery of the law provided for in such cases, and in France
not employed since the trial of Ravaillac, was put in operation. Even
during his transportation from Versailles to Paris measures of
precaution were used, as if a state prisoner of the most dangerous
character and of the greatest importance were to be guarded. Regiments
of soldiers surrounded his carriage, and six sergeants with drawn swords
marched on each side. Strict orders had been issued to the citizens of
Paris not to go out on the streets or appear at the front windows of
their houses. Everything had been done to create the impression of a
conspiracy against the government which counted many influential men
among its members and of which the assassin was merely the tool, while
those who were directing him and using his arm against the King, had to
be sought in the highest classes of the aristocracy, and especially
among the enemies of Madame de Pompadour. Great efforts were made to get
a full confession from Damiens. Who was he? How had he formed the plan
to assassinate the King? Who had instigated him to commit the act? Who
were his accomplices? These were the questions to be solved by the
French police authorities, and for whose solution they did not hesitate
to apply the most cruel measures known to them. But the result of their
painstaking investigation was far from realizing their expectations. It
was found that Damiens belonged to the lower classes of the people. He
had learned the trade of a locksmith, but had preferred to enter the
service of rich lords and ladies as a domestic. Being of a very restless
and quarrelsome disposition, he had changed his positions as often as
Gil Blas had changed his masters. He had been in the houses of
parliamentarians, clergymen, noblemen, orthodox Catholics, Jansenists,
Molinists, Protestants, free thinkers. Often he had served at the table
of the great lords and ladies of the kingdom and had listened to the
conversation of the guests; and invariably the subject of the
conversation had turned on the disgraceful conduct of the King, on his
excesses, on the shameful orgies of the court, on the mysteries of the
“deer park,” where not only the virtue of young girls of the people was
ruthlessly sacrificed, but also the money extorted from the sweat of the
people criminally squandered. Wherever he had gone he had heard the same
story, and it had made a deep impression upon him. Damiens had always
been of an eccentric turn of mind; he had even had spells of religious
exaltation, and for three years he had seriously meditated on the
possibility of rescuing the King from his sinful excesses and debauches.

He finally had come to the conclusion that the only possibility of
turning the King’s mind away from his vicious habits and arousing his
soul to sentiments of honor and duty might come through fear, by placing
him in the immediate presence of death. This thought preyed so
incessantly and so strongly on his mind that he resolved to become the
instrument of the King’s redemption, by attacking and wounding, but not
killing him. The attempt on the King’s life was therefore the result of
a psychological process which was, perhaps, based on wrong and
extravagant premises, but which, if all the circumstances are taken into
consideration, was rather meritorious than criminal in its aim. The
assassin had acted strictly in accord with his preconceived theory. He
had in his possession a knife with two blades, one of which was very
long, sharp and pointed like a dagger, while the other was quite short
and sharp. It seemed to be impossible to inflict a mortal wound with the
short blade, and Damiens had used it in wounding the King. He had no
accomplices. At first, very likely to mitigate his punishment, he had
hinted at the existence of a widespread conspiracy, contemplating the
assassination of the King, the Dauphin, and others, but he soon
retracted these statements, and even the most severe application of the
torture could not elicit from him any other declaration than this: that
he had no accomplices, that nobody, not even his wife and his young
daughter, had known anything of his intention; that he did not intend to
kill the King, though he could easily have done so; that he had only
intended to wound him for the purpose of frightening and warning him;
that his act had been inspired by the wish of saving France and the
dynasty.

But all these statements, which could not be controverted by conflicting
evidence, made no impression upon judges who had fully made up their
minds beforehand, and who looked upon the man that wanted to touch even
the King’s finger with the same horror as upon a regicide who might have
stabbed him through the heart and killed him. The sentence passed upon
Damiens was therefore in conformity with their preconceived opinion, and
cruel in the extreme. It was based upon the sentence carried out against
Ravaillac for having killed the greatest of kings and one of the
benefactors of mankind. Though Damiens was an eccentric ponderer, a
foolish dreamer, who had but slightly wounded a heartless voluptuary
that had deserved death a hundred times, his sentence was terrible
beyond description, and was actually carried out in the presence of an
immense multitude. At first his right hand, in which was placed the
knife with which he had struck the King, was burned to the bone.
Thereupon his arms, his legs, his breast, his back and his feet were
lacerated with burning tongs; molten lead, boiling oil, burning sulphur,
rosin, and wax were poured into the open wounds; and finally, while he
was still suffering unimaginable pain, four strong horses, hitched to
his arms and legs, tried for half an hour with all their might to tear
out his limbs. After that time only one arm remained in the body, and it
took another five minutes’ work to pull it out of its socket. The body
of the unfortunate man had been pulled to almost double its length and
width, and its power of resistance amazed all the spectators. When at
last the cruel execution was over, the bleeding trunk and the arms and
legs were thrown upon a pile of wood near the scaffold and destroyed by
fire. The spectacle had struck terror into the hearts of the beholders.

But even with this terrible act of revenge the criminal justice of
France was not satisfied; it reached out for the innocent family of the
criminal. His father, his wife, and his daughter were banished from
France for life, not to return there on penalty of death, while his
brothers, sisters, and other relatives had to change their names. The
house in which he was born was burned to the ground, and any other trace
which he might have left was carefully obliterated. The crime of Damiens
was not one of the famous assassinations in history, but it caused such
a sensation in Europe, and it was punished so cruelly, that we thought
his attempt on the life of Louis the Fifteenth might very properly be
recorded in this book.



CHAPTER XIII

WALLENSTEIN

[Illustration: WALLENSTEIN]



CHAPTER XIII

ASSASSINATION OF WALLENSTEIN

(February 24, 1634)


In a previous chapter we have seen how a King of England got rid of a
contentious Archbishop of the Church of Rome by assassination when the
latter stood in the way of his usurpation. In a similar manner, also by
assassination, an Emperor of Germany freed himself from a general who
had twice saved him from ruin, but who had grown too powerful for his
security, and whose loyalty he (perhaps justly) mistrusted. Although
nearly three hundred years have passed away since Wallenstein’s
assassination at Eger, Bohemia, the most searching investigations of
historians have been unable to establish beyond a reasonable doubt the
certainty or extent of his treasonable intentions, although there are
strong indications that they existed, and that the crown of Bohemia, as
a sovereign state, was to be the price which he exacted for his treason.

The religious war, which had broken out between the Emperor of Germany,
as representative of the Catholic Church, and the Protestant princes of
North Germany in 1618, had been waged with great cruelty and varying
success for several years. Neither party had won such decisive
advantages that the end of the terrible struggle, which partook as much
of the character of a civil war as of a religious war, could be
predicted with any degree of certainty. The most unfortunate feature of
this strife was that not only the different German princes were fighting
against each other, but that also foreign princes, upon the invitation
of the Germans, participated in the struggle and gave their support to
either the Catholic or the Protestant side. The German princes
themselves had formed two different alliances: the Catholics had formed
the League, while the Protestants were members of the Protestant Union;
and both parties had powerful armies in the field commanded by
experienced and able generals, the Catholics by Tilly, the Protestants
by Mansfeld and the Duke of Brunswick. The greatest of these generals
was perhaps Tilly, but he was extremely cruel and vindictive, fully as
much from religious hatred for the enemies of his church as from natural
disposition. His conquest and pillage of Magdeburg has given to his name
a deplorable immortality. The Emperor of Germany, Ferdinand the Second,
was rather nominally than actually the war-lord of the Catholic party;
for the Catholic League, which had placed the army in the field, had
elected Maximilian of Bavaria as its supreme chief. Thus, while the
Catholic armies were called the Imperialists, and while the victories
which they achieved were supposed to redound to the Emperor’s glory,
Ferdinand could not repress a feeling of humiliation at the thought that
he owed these victories and the advantages which resulted from them more
to the generosity and loyalty of the Catholic League than to his own
power and resources. Once or twice Protestant soldiers had even
threatened him in his own imperial palace, and he had owed his safety
from capture or death only to the timely intervention of some Spanish
and Croatian horsemen who dispersed the aggressors.

In November, 1620, Tilly had, at the head of a powerful army, won a
decisive victory over the army of the Protestant Union by the battle of
White Mountain; then, having restored Bohemia and Moravia to the rule of
the Emperor, the victorious general quickly marched to the Palatinate,
where the cause of the Protestants was at that time supreme. But he was
defeated there by the Protestant army under Mansfeld and the Margrave of
Baden; and at that time Protestantism might have been triumphantly
established in western and northern Germany at least, had not the two
victorious Protestant generals made the mistake of separating their
armies,--a mistake which proved fatal to both of them. Tilly was not
slow to see the advantage which he gained by this dismemberment of the
army which had so signally defeated him at Wiesloch; he rallied his
forces and defeated first the Margrave of Baden at Wimpfen, and shortly
afterwards Mansfeld and the Duke of Brunswick at Höchst. Then the
Protestant armies crossed the frontier of the Netherlands in the hope of
receiving assistance from England.

In the meantime the German Emperor, emboldened by the successes of
Tilly, strained every nerve to reëstablish Catholicism and stamp out
Protestantism in the Empire. The excessive zeal which he displayed in
accomplishing this purpose, and the terrible work of destruction which
Tilly and his lieutenants were carrying on in all those districts of the
Empire which were unfortunate enough to fall under their sway, were,
however, the means of setting Protestantism on its feet again, of
reviving the waning hopes of the German Protestant princes, and of
arousing a powerful interest in their behalf among their neighbors. The
most important accession which the cause of Protestantism had at that
time was that of King Christian the Fourth of Denmark, who joined the
Protestants with a large army and took supreme command in northern
Germany.

Such were the conditions in Germany at the moment when the man who is
the subject of this chapter appeared on the stage as principal actor in
the terrible war of thirty years. This man, one of the most remarkable
men of the seventeenth century, and one of the most eminent generals in
German history was Wallenstein. For seven years he was the greatest man
of the war, eclipsing the fame of Tilly himself, filling the minds of
enemies and friends, and finally that of the Emperor himself, with vague
fears and apprehensions of his treason and unbridled ambition. But in
the flower of his age his life was cut short by the hands of assassins.

The Empire seemed to be hopelessly divided between Catholicism and
Protestantism, and civil war with all its terrors and horrors laid waste
its fairest provinces. The Emperor had lost much of his authority, while
Maximilian of Bavaria, commander-in-chief of the armies of the Catholic
League, wielded a power which was supreme wherever the so-called
Imperialists held possession of country or town. It was a humiliating
position for the Emperor, but he was utterly powerless to extricate
himself from it. Suddenly a deliverer came to him in the person of
Albert, Lord Wallenstein, a Bohemian nobleman, who had married the
daughter of Count Harrach, the Emperor’s special favorite. He was
immensely rich, and had won great military distinction in the Bohemian
wars. It was this Lord Wallenstein who on a morning in June, 1625,
presented himself before the Emperor Ferdinand of Germany with a
proposition which, at first, appeared so extravagant and incredible to
the Emperor himself and to his counsellors that they doubted the sanity
or sincerity of the man who made it. But he insisted on the feasibility
of his plan with so much eloquence and enthusiasm that they finally
consented to it. Wallenstein proposed to the Emperor to enroll, entirely
at his own personal expense, an army to fight for the cause of the
Emperor and to protect his hereditary states, provided he should have
the power to make that army at least fifty thousand strong, to appoint
all the officers, and take supreme command himself, without being
interfered with by other generals, no matter how highly stationed they
might be. The immense wealth of Wallenstein guaranteed the financial
success of the plan; moreover he received permission to make his army
self-sustaining by pillage, marauding, and forced contributions in all
those districts which it might temporarily occupy.

When the new plan and the appointment of Wallenstein to the command of a
large army--larger than any other in the field--became known, the world,
and especially Germany, was struck with amazement, and there were but
few who believed that it could be carried out. But those who doubted did
not know the tremendous energy, the boundless resources, and the
towering ambition of the man. The plan was carried out to its fullest
extent: within a few months a large and well-equipped army was ready to
take the field, and Wallenstein, whose name was comparatively unknown in
the history of war, suddenly assumed an importance which eclipsed that
of the renowned generals of the Catholic League and of the Protestant
Union. The suddenness of his elevation, the apparent mystery surrounding
him, and the rumors of the royal rewards in store for him, made the
imperialistic generals very jealous. It may be truthfully said that from
the very moment Wallenstein took command of his army, he had not only to
face the Protestant armies in the field, but also to guard against his
Catholic rivals, who used their high connections at the imperial court
to undermine his position and blacken his character in a most
unscrupulous manner. The achievements of Wallenstein fully realized the
high expectations of the Emperor. He displayed consummate generalship in
the field, and had a magnetic power of attraction which caused his whole
army, both officers and men, to idolize him. At the same time his army
increased rapidly and wonderfully. It soon reached the one hundred
thousand mark and still they were coming, while the armies of the League
were decreasing at a fearful rate from camp diseases and the ravages of
war. The Emperor made him Duke of Friedland, and “the Friedlanders”
became soon a terror to friend and foe. In his march of victory, which
extended from Hungary and Transylvania to the Baltic Sea, he swept the
Protestant armies from the face of the earth. Where the Friedlanders had
passed, no human dwelling, no human being remained to tell of the
cruelty and devastation which had struck the country, and which fell
with the same crushing weight on Catholics and Protestants. The army was
to be self-sustaining and was therefore given full liberty of pillage
and marauding wherever it went. Coming to the extreme north of Germany,
he invaded Mecklenburg, whose dukes had furnished men and money to the
King of Denmark in his campaign against the imperialists. The King of
Denmark had after a decisive defeat left Germany and returned to his own
kingdom, and on Wallenstein’s approach the Duke of Mecklenburg also
hastily decamped and left his country to the mercy of the conqueror.
Wallenstein took possession of it and was rewarded with the title of
Duke of Mecklenburg and the rank of a sovereign prince of the Empire.
The royal crown of Bohemia, which rumor and secret whisperings
designated as the reward in store for him after the conclusion of peace,
was now not so far off as on the day he took the command of his army.
But the higher he rose, the greater became the envy and hatred of his
rivals, especially of the sovereign princes whose countries and cities
had suffered from the passing of his army.

From Mecklenburg Wallenstein turned to Pomerania, where Stralsund, one
of the greatest fortresses of the Empire, impeded his further progress.
Wallenstein invested it with his army, and made several assaults, which
were successfully repulsed. The brave inhabitants had sworn to hold out
to the last and rather perish in the defence of their hearths and homes
and families than surrender their city to a conqueror who showed no
mercy to the vanquished. Wallenstein, on the other hand, was determined
to enter the city as a conqueror. Hearing that the inhabitants would
defend the city unto death, he swore that he would take it, even if it
were bound with chains to Heaven, and he laid a regular siege to it.
But all his efforts were in vain. The Swedes succeeded in giving succor
to the beleaguered city from the seaward side, reinforcing it with
troops, ammunition, and provisions. Finally, after a delay of two months
and a loss of twelve thousand men, Wallenstein abandoned the project of
taking the city, raised the siege, and returned to Mecklenburg. There
the conquest of the strongly fortified city of Rostock consoled him to a
certain extent for his failure at Stralsund.

Emboldened by the great successes of Wallenstein and the almost complete
overthrow of the Protestant armies, the Emperor rather rashly undertook
to reinstate the Catholic Church in all its former privileges and to
compel the Protestant states to restore all the property and real estate
which had been confiscated and estranged from that church during the
preceding eighty years. To carry out this imperial plan the so-called
Restitution Edict was promulgated,--a very unwise measure, which spread
consternation and alarm throughout the Empire, and fanned the dying
embers of the religious war into a new flame. Not only Protestants, but
many Catholics protested against the edict, and Wallenstein himself
criticised it sharply. But the Emperor would not recede from the
resolution he had taken.

Wallenstein’s influence was already rapidly declining; his overthrow was
near at hand. In 1630 the imperial diet of Regensburg was held. All the
sovereign princes of Germany, and especially all the Electors of the
Empire were present, and they made jointly a terrible onslaught on
Wallenstein, whom they all hated or envied. They united their complaints
against him and demanded his immediate and peremptory dismissal from
the service, as a punishment for the outrages committed by his army and
for the extortions and exorbitant levies which he had made from friend
and foe for his own self-aggrandizement. For a long time the Emperor
resisted these demands and stood up for the great general to whom he
owed so much; but he was anxious to secure the votes of the Electors for
his son, the King of Hungary, as heir to the imperial crown, and the
dismissal of Wallenstein was to be the price for these votes. He
therefore issued the decree, deposing Wallenstein from his office of
generalissimo of the army. It is said that he trembled in affixing his
signature to the document, and that for weeks afterwards he lived in
extreme fear of the wrath of the powerful chieftain. But Wallenstein
took his disgrace very coolly. The news came to him at a moment when he
was with Seni, a famous astrologer, in whom he placed implicit
confidence. Seni had just predicted to him, from a configuration of the
stars, that he would experience a tremendous disappointment, but that
this disappointment would be followed soon by his complete reinstatement
in all the honors which he might be deprived of. Wallenstein took the
decree of deposition as the confirmation of Seni’s prediction. Without
showing much irritation, and only with an expression of regret that the
Emperor had been ill-advised and had yielded to bad counsels, he left
the army and withdrew to Prague, the capital of Bohemia, to live there
in royal splendor and luxury.

When Wallenstein’s soldiers were informed of the dismissal of their
chief, whom they idolized and regarded with an affection mingled with
awe and terror, there was danger of an open revolt against the
Emperor’s decree; but Wallenstein himself and some of his generals
quieted their rage and suppressed all manifestations of rebellion.
Thousands of soldiers and a great number of officers refused to remain
in the Emperor’s service, declaring that they had enlisted only in order
to serve under Wallenstein and under no other commander. More than one
half of the entire army left the service, and most of the officers, at
their own request, accompanied the deposed general to his new place of
residence, Prague. The disgrace of the general, or rather the act of
removal which, in the eyes of the German princes, was intended to
disgrace him, turned out to be a triumph, greater than a victory in the
field, and made his position in Germany even more conspicuous. Moreover,
everybody seemed to feel that the hour of his reinstatement would soon
come. And Wallenstein, on his part, neglected nothing to confirm this
opinion, which flattered his vanity, and which he firmly believed would
be realized, because “it was written in the stars.”

It was perhaps as a challenge to his princely enemies at the imperial
court and in defiance of the Emperor himself that he established his
household on a footing more becoming a reigning monarch than a private
citizen. He had a secret desire to accustom the people of Bohemia to
look upon him as the man who might, within a short time, be called upon
to rule over them as king. Otherwise it is hardly reasonable to suppose
that he would have paraded such wealth and magnificence as could not but
confirm the charges preferred against him by his influential
enemies,--namely, gigantic extortions and robberies of public and
private moneys, and plans to satisfy an insatiable ambition. His palace
had six public entrances, and he caused a hundred houses to be torn down
to enlarge the vacant place surrounding it. By day and by night it was
guarded by sentinels, and during the night the public streets leading to
it were barred with chains, that the rest of the Duke might not be
disturbed. In the hall leading to the antechamber of his private
apartments fifty halberdiers were constantly on guard, while sixty
pages, all from the best families of Germany, four chamberlains, six
barons, and a master of ceremonies belonging to one of the most
illustrious houses of the Empire, were always ready to receive the
orders of the great man. Whenever he travelled, his own carriage was
drawn by eight full-blooded horses; his attendants followed in fifty
carriages, each drawn by six horses, while as many baggage wagons, each
drawn by four horses, transported the baggage for the ducal procession,
and sixty richly mounted cavaliers formed the regular escort of “His
Highness.”

As if Providence wished to advance the pretensions of Wallenstein, the
Emperor’s affairs took a turn for the worse soon after his removal from
the command of the army. Incensed at the intolerance of the German
Emperor and his Restitution Edict, which was to be enforced in its full
severity, Gustavus Adolphus, the great and high-minded King of Sweden,
came to the assistance of the Protestant princes of northern Germany. He
came not unsupported; behind him, and as his secret ally, stood the King
of France, or rather Richelieu. This great French statesman, although a
cardinal of the Catholic Church, saw the time had come to curtail the
power of Austria, and therefore utilized the military genius of
Gustavus Adolphus to effectually cripple the Emperor’s power, and to
raise France to a predominant position in Europe. Richelieu equipped and
subsidized the Swedish armies and, by doing so, enabled the Swedish
King, whose country was comparatively poor and whose resources were
consequently limited, to take the field in Germany with a strong force.

On the twenty-fourth of June, 1630, Gustavus Adolphus landed his army in
Pomerania. That date marks the turning-point in the fortunes of the
Thirty Years’ War. The Swedish King’s piety, and the strict discipline
which he maintained in his army, stood in such glaring contrast to the
excesses and outrages committed by the armies of Tilly and Wallenstein
that the King was welcomed by the sovereigns of northern Germany as a
savior and liberator. It is not our purpose to describe the glorious and
victorious career of Gustavus Adolphus in the Empire. Suffice it to say
that the conditions of victory and defeat, of triumph and despondency,
were entirely reversed, that the imperial armies were unable to stem the
tide of victory which had set in for the Protestant cause since the
Swedish King’s appearance on German soil, that his progress southward
was rapid and incessant, that the Catholic princes were either
vanquished or fugitives from their states, and that the Emperor himself
was trembling in his palace at Vienna, as report after report informed
him of the uninterrupted onward march of the royal hero. Who can help?
Who can oppose and prevent this steady march of conquest? To the
terrified mind of the Emperor only one man presents himself. It is
Wallenstein. But Wallenstein has been mortally offended by him. How can
the Emperor humiliate himself before a subject and assuage his wrath?
The danger is increasing.

Gustavus is still on the Rhine, but he prepares an invasion of
Würtemberg, many of whose inhabitants will gladly welcome him. The
advance of his army, under General Horn, is in Franconia and driving the
Imperialists before him. No time is to be lost. The Emperor sends a
friendly message to Wallenstein; but the message is haughtily rejected,
and the messengers are treated with arrogance, not to say contempt. He
sends back word to the Emperor that he does not care to repair the
faults of others; that he is not on friendly terms with the allies of
the Emperor; that he is tired and sick of war; that he is in need of
rest, etc. The Emperor sends new messengers, holds out new rewards. He
insists and appeals. At last, in December, 1631, Wallenstein promises to
raise a new army, equip it and place it in the field by the first of
March, 1632; but he positively refuses to command it. The magic power of
his name renews the prodigy of six years before. On the first of March
the hereditary states of Austria--Bohemia, Silesia, and Moravia--had
furnished him a splendid army of forty thousand men. But it was a body
without a soul; it lacked a leader able to command it and lead it to
victory. The most urgent demands, prayers, supplications of the Emperor
at last decide Wallenstein to take the command of this army, which is
crazed with enthusiasm when he finally accepts. But he accepts only on
conditions most humiliating to the Emperor. He will be generalissimo of
the armies of Austria and Spain; he will appoint all his subordinate
officers; the Emperor will not be permitted to join the army, and will
in no way interfere with its direction or movements; Wallenstein will
receive one of the hereditary states of Austria as a reward; he will be
war-governor of all the territory occupied by his army; he will have the
right to levy contributions, and all confiscated property will belong to
him; he alone can grant amnesty; he will remain Duke of Mecklenburg,
even if another crown be given to him; all his expenditures will be paid
back to him at the conclusion of peace; and in case of defeat, he will
have the right to retire upon Vienna, and remain there. These
conditions, readily granted by the Emperor, made Wallenstein practically
the Dictator of the Empire.

It was at Nuremberg, one of the most ancient and prosperous cities of
Bavaria, that the two great captains met face to face for the first
time. Gustavus Adolphus had many friends in the city, which he wanted to
protect against the Imperialists and from which he had received many
reinforcements and supplies. His army had taken quarters in the
immediate neighborhood. When Wallenstein approached, the King expected
an immediate attack, but in this expectation he was disappointed.
Whether he was afraid to endanger his party and his own reputation by
the chances of a battle, or whether he thought that to check the
victorious progress of the King was equivalent to a victory and would
dishearten his allies, or whether the hope of starving the army of the
King by cutting off his communications and supplies prompted his action,
Wallenstein massed his army in front of Nuremberg, erected breastworks
and strongly fortified them, and observed every movement of his great
antagonist. It was evident that he wished to avoid giving battle. In
this way they remained for eleven weeks opposed to one another, neither
daring to become the aggressor or to leave his fortified position. It
was the King who moved first. Provisions both in his camp and in the
city were getting very scarce, and a contagious camp disease had broken
out among his troops and spread to the city, decimating the ranks of his
army. He therefore resolved to attack the position of Wallenstein and
take it by storm. A terrible battle ensued. The Swedes and the
Protestant army showed wonderful bravery, but the heavy artillery of
Wallenstein mowed them down in long lines, and they were unable to stand
the incessant volleys of shot and shell which poured into their ranks
all day long. The assault was repulsed with terrible loss to the Swedish
army, and Wallenstein had the glory of having inflicted the first defeat
on Gustavus Adolphus. This defeat was the more painful to the King
because he had lost from ten to twelve thousand of his best soldiers and
some of his ablest commanders in the vain attempt to take Wallenstein’s
position. But the defeat had no other bad results for Gustavus Adolphus,
for Wallenstein permitted him to retreat from Nuremberg without
molesting, attacking or pursuing him, although his army was greatly
superior in numbers to the King’s army, and although his loss during the
battle of the preceding day was much smaller; in fact Wallenstein’s loss
in killed and wounded was estimated at no more than one thousand.

This neglect of Wallenstein to annihilate the King’s army, when
everything seemed to favor such an attempt, is among the strongest
evidences of his treacherous sentiments. It caused consternation at
Vienna, and his enemies charged him openly with treason. But the
Emperor had no right to interfere! Finally Wallenstein also left his
fortified camp, but instead of following Gustavus Adolphus to Thuringia,
he went in an easterly direction and invaded Saxony, where he captured a
detachment of two thousand five hundred Swedes and with them Count
Thurn, a German nobleman, who for some reason or other had left the
Emperor’s service and had entered the Swedish King’s. This Count Thurn
was especially odious to the Emperor, and when the news of his capture
reached Vienna, there was general rejoicing. The Count would
unquestionably have been executed, but to the utter dismay of the court
Wallenstein set him free and permitted him to return to the King,--as
his enemies asserted, with secret overtures from the Imperialist
commander. It is possible, although by no means certain, that
Wallenstein, remembering how ungratefully he had been treated before,
and thinking that the same ingratitude might be shown to him again as
soon as his services were no longer needed, may have tried to open
negotiations with the Swedish King to secure from him personal
recognition and advantages which he was afraid would be withheld from
him after the King’s final overthrow. His fears were certainly not
unreasonable, for the Emperor was surrounded by, and lent a willing ear
to, the bitter enemies of Wallenstein, and to the very men who had
brought about his first disgrace and dismissal. The King, on the other
hand, if he received such overtures from Wallenstein, either distrusted
him or did not see fit to act upon them favorably, possibly because
Wallenstein’s terms were too extravagant.

As soon as Gustavus Adolphus had learned of Wallenstein’s invasion of
Saxony he turned round, and in forced marches hurried also to Saxony in
order to protect that unfortunate country from the ravages of the
Friedlanders. The Elector of Saxony, while secretly favoring the German
Emperor, had appealed to the King of Sweden for protection, and Gustavus
Adolphus had granted his request. He marched so rapidly that
Wallenstein, when informed of his approach, at first refused to believe
the truth of the report, but nevertheless prepared to give him a warm
reception. Having sent, a few days before, his most renowned cavalry
general, Pappenheim, in another direction, he now sent messengers after
him to recall him. The two great captains met at Lützen on the sixth of
November. A terrible battle ensued, in which Gustavus Adolphus was
killed. But Wallenstein was defeated; at least he left the battle-field
in the possession of the enemy and retreated to Bohemia.

This retrograde movement and his retreat from the battle-field were
unfavorably commented on at Vienna and declared unnecessary.
Insinuations of treason were again whispered into the Emperor’s ear, and
his suspicion was aroused to such a degree that Wallenstein’s removal
from the army was resolved upon, although this intention was kept secret
for a while. The Emperor surrounded himself with Spanish soldiers to be
safe from an attack of the Friedlanders. He also succeeded by bribes and
promises in estranging a number of Wallenstein’s prominent lieutenants
from him and in securing them for his own service. To some extent
Wallenstein was kept informed of these secret steps of the Emperor, and
he tried to counteract them and to protect himself. He renewed his
negotiations with the Swedes and the Protestant princes, who had found
in Bernard, Duke of Saxe-Weimar, a worthy successor of King Gustavus
Adolphus as a military leader; and it is said that an agreement had been
made by the two leaders of the opposing armies that Wallenstein’s forces
should join the Protestant army, and that they jointly should impose
conditions of peace upon the Emperor. It goes without saying that a
sovereignty for Wallenstein--most likely that of Bohemia--was included
in the terms of peace.

Before this agreement could be carried out, events occurred which not
only precipitated the downfall, but cut short the life of the
over-ambitious military chieftain. It was of the greatest importance to
Wallenstein to find out how far he would be able to rely on his army
commanders and on their regiments in carrying out his treasonable
projects. He first revealed these to three of them,--Terzky, Kinsky, and
Illo,--the first two related to him by marriage, and the last an avowed
and bitter enemy of the Emperor, who had refused to raise him to the
rank of count. It was Illo who undertook to find out how the generals
and colonels would feel and act; he called them together one evening and
very cautiously proceeded to inflame their minds against the Emperor and
glorify the services of Wallenstein, who, he said, was the only one who
could have saved the Emperor from ruin, and who was now to be sacrificed
again to the envy and jealousy of his enemies. This announcement caused
loud protests and great indignation among those present. “But,”
concluded Illo, “the Duke is not willing to undergo this new
humiliation, which is a shameful reward for his long and glorious
services; no, he will not wait until it pleases the Emperor to kick him
out, but he will go voluntarily and resign his command; but what pains
him deeply is the thought that, in doing so, he must leave his devoted
friends and comrades, and cannot reward them as he intended.” It may
well be thought that these remarks kindled revolt in the hearts of the
soldiers, and that they swore they would not let the Duke
leave the army. The next morning they sent a delegation to their
commander-in-chief, imploring him to desist from his intention of
leaving the army, and assuring him that they would stand by him, no
matter what might happen. It was only when a second delegation of the
highest and most popular officers waited upon him, that the Duke gave
way to their entreaties and promised to remain at the head of the army.
But he attached one condition to this promise: he exacted from all the
commanders a written pledge that they would all, jointly and singly,
stand by him as their chief, and would consider his removal from the
command of the army a public calamity. They all agreed to this
condition, and a paper embodying this declaration was gotten up to be
signed by all of them.

Illo took it upon himself to secure all the signatures, and in order to
make short work of it, invited the commanders to an evening party at his
headquarters, where he read the paper to them; but, in order to preclude
all suspicion in the minds of the signers, Wallenstein had inserted a
clause which bound the signers to the agreement only as long as
Wallenstein used the army in the service of the Emperor. After Illo had
read the paper containing the saving clause, he dexterously withdrew it
and substituted for it another copy without the clause, and unknowingly
the commanders signed it. Moreover, most of them were half or entirely
intoxicated and could not have discovered the deception; but one or two
had remained sober, and when they read the paper again before signing
it, they found that it was different from the one which had been read to
them. They indignantly charged Illo with having practised a fraud on
them, and the company broke up in confusion and anger. This half-failure
seems to have opened Wallenstein’s eyes to the real situation in which
he found himself. Many of his commanders were too devoted Catholics to
make common cause with the enemies of their Church, and while they were
willing to stand by Wallenstein to the last as the defender of their
faith, they refused to follow him into the Protestant camp and as a
deserter from the Emperor’s service. It also opened the Emperor’s eyes
to the necessity of prompt action, unless he would permit Wallenstein to
concoct some plan by which he might lead the whole army into the camp of
the Protestants. He therefore secretly commissioned General Gallas, one
of Wallenstein’s subordinates, to take command of the army as soon as
the time had come for openly deposing the Duke of Friedland. It was a
game of duplicity and deception on both sides. The Emperor tried to
cheat Wallenstein out of his command and reward, and Wallenstein tried
to cheat the Emperor out of the army.

Until then Wallenstein had been at Pilsen; but after the demonstration
of the commanders, he deemed it advisable for his own plans and
interests to transfer his headquarters to the strongly fortified city of
Eger, which was commanded by Gordon, whom he considered one of his most
reliable friends. The larger part of the army remained at Pilsen, while
Wallenstein himself, escorted by a number of picked regiments under the
command of his most trusted lieutenants, went to Eger. But there he was
to meet his doom. The thunderclouds of imperial wrath had been gathering
more and more threateningly above his head. Wallenstein saw them not and
feared them not. Had not the stars prophesied his coming elevation? Even
when the Emperor published a proclamation, which was secretly
distributed in the army, declaring him a rebel and offering a reward for
his surrender, dead or alive, he would not believe it; he laughed at it
when it was shown him. Under ordinary circumstances he would have had
the courage to treat any imperial edict with contempt, for with his army
his name was a much greater power and authority than that of the
Emperor; but a complication had arisen which in the minds of his
soldiers paralyzed his efforts and reëstablished the Emperor’s
supremacy. This complication was the increasing strength of the
Protestant armies. The Duke’s army, lawless, cruel, and violating every
rule of morality, was nevertheless composed of men who stood in slavish
fear of the Church and of the priest, and as soon as Wallenstein turned
against these two, the soldiers turned against him. They were willing to
follow him to death in a Catholic cause, when death would open to them
the gates of Paradise, but they refused to follow him to death when
death would deliver them to the everlasting torments of hell.

With this invisible moral power the great commander had not reckoned.
Among the very men whom he had picked out as his escort to Eger were his
murderers. And they did not wait long, for fear that others might
anticipate them in their bloody work, and capture not only the imperial
reward, but also the benedictions of the Church. These men were Gordon,
the commander of the Eger garrison, and Leslie (both Scotchmen),
Deveroux and Butler (both Irishmen). They had always been enthusiastic
friends and admirers of Wallenstein, but they were also fanatical
Catholics, and when they had to choose between their commander and the
Church, their devotion to the latter prevailed. Deveroux was the leading
spirit in the plot. He had received private instructions from Gallas and
Piccolomini and won over the others. They also secured the assistance of
a number of soldiers in their regiments, and solemnly pledged themselves
to surrender Wallenstein’s person, dead or alive, to Gallas, who was to
take command of the imperial army. But in order to prevent interference
with their dark design, Gordon, the commander of the garrison, invited
them all to the citadel for an evening entertainment. At this
entertainment, while eating supper, Illo, Terzky, Kinsky and Newman,
were murdered. It was on a Saturday evening, February 25, 1634, the day
after they had arrived with Wallenstein at Eger. Wallenstein himself was
not present. He had retired early that night, after having once more
consulted the stars with his Italian astrologer, who discovered
unfavorable signs in the constellations. But it seems Wallenstein paid
no attention to these warnings, and fell soundly asleep soon afterwards.
Toward midnight, or perhaps shortly after midnight, he was aroused from
his sleep by a loud noise. Coming from the citadel, where Wallenstein’s
lieutenants had been slain, Butler, with a number of his dragoons, and
Deveroux, with a number of his halberdiers, marched up to Wallenstein’s
residence. Since both Butler and Deveroux were well known to the guards
in the hall, they were immediately admitted, but when they reached the
anteroom to the Duke’s apartments, the sentinel wanted to stop them. He
was cut down, not, however, before he had called for help, and cried
out: “Murderers! Rebels!” It was this tumult that aroused Wallenstein.
He jumped out of bed and hurried to the window to ask the sentinel
posted at the entrance what was the matter. At that moment the door
leading to the anteroom was burst open, and Deveroux, a halberd in his
hands, and followed by half a dozen of his men, entered the bedroom,
where he found himself face to face with Wallenstein. “Are you the
scoundrel,” said he, “who wants to rob his Imperial Majesty of his
crown? You must die now!” And without having given any answer,
Wallenstein received a stab of the halberd which lacerated the
intestines and caused almost immediate death. Like Cæsar, he might have
exclaimed, “Et tu, Brute!” for he had always especially befriended and
distinguished this man Deveroux, who had come to him poor and
friendless, and who owed to him everything. One of the halberdiers
wished to throw Wallenstein’s corpse out of the window, but Deveroux
would not permit it; he rolled the body up in a table cover and had it
transported to the citadel, where the Duke’s murdered friends were lying
in the yard, waiting for their burial. Wallenstein’s body was placed by
their side. It was then resolved to send the bodies of the dead generals
to one of Illo’s country-seats, which was in the neighborhood. In
placing them in their coffins, it was found that Wallenstein’s coffin
was too small, and in order to force him into it his legs had to be
broken.

Thus died one of the most remarkable men of the seventeenth
century,--the greatest of the German generals of the terrible Thirty
Years’ War. As a strategist, he may not have been fully the equal of
Gustavus Adolphus, but he had a magnetic power over his men which even
that great commander did not possess, and which would have made him
invincible, had not superstition and religious awe counteracted it. The
German Emperor, hearing of his assassination, appeared to be overwhelmed
with grief, and ordered three thousand masses to be read for the
salvation of his soul; but he tried in vain to deceive the world by this
hypocritical sorrow for a murder which he had planned and for which he
rewarded the assassins. To this very day the treason of Wallenstein
remains shrouded in doubt; and very likely it will remain forever an
unsolved problem.



CHAPTER XIV

JOHN AND CORNELIUS DE WITT

[Illustration: JOHN DE WITT]



CHAPTER XIV

ASSASSINATION OF THE BROTHERS JOHN AND CORNELIUS DE WITT

(August 20, 1672)


Never, perhaps, was the old saying, “Republics are ungrateful,” more
strikingly verified than in the case of the two brothers De Witt, who,
after having rendered many great services to the Dutch Republic, were
foully murdered by an infuriated mob in the streets of the Hague, August
20, 1672. John and Cornelius de Witt were the sons of a distinguished
citizen of the city of Dordrecht, who had represented that city in the
general assemblies of Holland and Friesland and was known as an eloquent
and incorruptible defender of popular rights. He had placed himself at
the head of the anti-Orange party because he considered the ambition and
power of the princes of Orange a standing danger to the Republic. Grown
up under the direction of such a father, the two sons had naturally
imbibed his strong democratic principles, and their undoubted patriotism
was strongly tinged with hostility to the house of Orange. The two De
Witts have often been compared to the Gracchi, and, like those
illustrious Romans, they worked and died for their democratic
principles. Both were highly talented and, while quite young, rose to
the highest honors and dignities among their countrymen,--Cornelius, the
elder of the two, by his eminent legal ability and his skill as a
military and naval director and commissary, and John, by his eminence as
an administrator and statesman. It is difficult to decide which of the
two was intellectually the superior. A medal struck in their honor bore
the inscription, “Hic armis maximus, ille toga.” It should not be
inferred, however, from this inscription, that Cornelius, to whom the
word “armis” applied, was at any time commander-in-chief of the Dutch
army and navy, since he held only the office of government inspector of
the navy, in which capacity he greatly distinguished himself.

John was, at the age of twenty-five, elected pensionary of the city of
Dordrecht, and two years later, in 1652, Grand Pensionary of Holland,
one of the highest offices in the United Provinces. His political
influence was very great, and he used it to the best of his ability
against the house of Orange. William the Second, Prince of Orange, had
died on the second of October, 1650, leaving only a widow and a
posthumous son as his heirs. On these circumstances, so unfavorable to
the illustrious house which had played for so many years a conspicuous
part in the history of the Netherlands, John de Witt built his hopes of
dealing a deathblow to its political pretensions and of abolishing
forever the office of stadtholder. It was, however, no easy task to
accomplish this object. The province of Zealand was full of friends and
partisans of the late stadtholder, who vigorously opposed any attempt in
the direction contemplated by De Witt; and the other provinces, either
from loyalty to the house of Orange, or from a secret jealousy of the
supremacy of the states of Holland, which always wanted to control the
policy of the Republic, either openly rejected the plans of De Witt or
modified and attenuated them as exaggerated.

At the moment when John de Witt took the reins of government, the states
were at war with England, and the war had taken a very unfavorable turn
for them. The Dutch admirals had suffered several terrible defeats.
Tromp, one of their most celebrated naval heroes, had been killed in
battle, and an English fleet was cruising along the coast of Holland,
blockading its ports, and paralyzing its commerce. But De Witt repaired
these disasters with such rapidity, and restored to the Dutch navy such
a formidable strength by his administrative genius, that Cromwell was
willing to enter into negotiations for peace, which he had haughtily
rejected before. A treaty of peace, submitted by the Grand Pensionary of
Holland and signed at Westminster on the fifteenth of April, 1654,
reëstablished virtually the conditions which had existed between the two
nations before the war. However, the Dutch Republic was compelled to
recognize the superiority of the English flag in the channel, and bound
itself to give the Stuart dynasty no support, and that no Prince of
Orange should be elected again either Stadtholder or Captain-General.
This last section of the treaty was signed, at first by the province of
Holland only, and was kept secret for a long time. In getting this
provision of exclusion of the house of Orange passed (which, by the way,
was as welcome to De Witt as to Cromwell) by the other provinces also,
the Grand Pensionary practised a good deal of duplicity, and laid
himself open to serious charges of official deception which later on
contributed to his downfall.

In the meantime another complication had arisen and taxed the
statesmanship of the Dutch government and the patriotism of the
Netherlanders to the utmost. In France Louis the Fourteenth had taken
the reins of government into his own hands, and manifested an ambition
for conquest which endangered the security of all his neighbors.
Although the wife of Louis, at the time of her marriage, had solemnly
renounced all her rights of succession to the Spanish throne and any
Spanish provinces, the King nevertheless after the death of his wife’s
father, Philip the Fourth, claimed the Spanish Netherlands as justly
belonging to his wife, and defended this claim not so much by argument
as by an invasion and armed occupation of the disputed territory. No
state was more deeply interested in the outcome of this dispute than the
Netherlands. With growing fear they beheld the rapid progress which the
armies of the French King under the command of great generals were
making, and they thought that their own independence might suffer from
the immediate neighborhood of so powerful and aggressive a monarch. With
great skill the Dutch government secretly formed an alliance with Sweden
and England by which these three powers agreed that the Spanish
Netherlands should remain under Spanish dominion and that Louis the
Fourteenth should be prevented from annexing them to the French
monarchy. This Triple Alliance was too powerful to be defied by the
French King, and he made peace with Spain, evacuating Franche-Comté,
which he had already conquered, but retaining possession of a number of
important cities in the Netherlands,--such as Charleroi, Douai, Lille,
Tournay and Oudenarde, which by the genius of Vauban were converted
into almost impregnable fortresses. Dutch statesmanship was the obstacle
which had placed itself in the King’s way and frustrated his ambitious
designs. Personal irritation and offended vanity were added to his
chagrin at the failure of his plans.

A boastful medal was struck in the Netherlands commemorating the
diplomatic victory which their government had achieved over the power of
France. On this medal a Dutch statesman was represented as Joshua
bidding the sun (the symbol of Louis the Fourteenth) to stand still. For
this arrogance the Republic was to be punished, and with matchless skill
and cunning the French government went to work to prepare for its
overthrow. The general political situation of Europe was highly
favorable to the consummation of the French designs. The Emperor of
Germany, a weak and pusillanimous sovereign, had his hands full in the
eastern provinces of the Empire, in which the Turks had advanced
victorious up to the very gates of Vienna; he was therefore powerless to
oppose French aggression in the Netherlands. Moreover special
negotiations had been opened with some of the sovereign princes of
northern Germany by which the French monarch secured the right to march
his armies through their territory on their way to the United
Netherlands without touching Spanish territory. With equal success the
French diplomats dissolved the Triple Alliance, and made both Sweden and
England, former allies of the Dutch Republic, subservient to the French
monarch. Sweden received an annual subsidy of 600,000 dollars from the
French treasury, and England a subsidy of 350,000 pounds sterling and
also the promise of the province of Zealand as its share of the
dismemberment of the United Netherlands. Princess Henrietta of France,
wife of the Duke of Orleans and sister of Charles the Second of England,
was sent by the wily French King to England to negotiate this infamous
treaty. She succeeded in accomplishing her object mainly through the
influence which one of the ladies of her suite, Mademoiselle de
Querouet, gained over the mind of the English King, who made her his
mistress and bestowed on her the title of Duchess of Portsmouth.

Having thus fortified himself on all sides and deprived the United
Netherlands of the possibility of taking the field against him with any
chance of success, Louis declared war upon them. The result could not be
doubtful. Moreover the domestic discord and the active struggle between
the political factions added much to the gravity of the situation, and
partly paralyzed the efforts of the government to arouse the provinces
to a full comprehension of the danger. John de Witt was the chief
executive of the government, and upon him rested largely the
responsibility of the situation. The Orangist party turned its main
attacks against him, and spared neither criticism nor calumny to
undermine his standing and authority. It charged him directly with
having, either through incompetency or something worse, neglected to
place the country in a suitable state of defence, and then having
provoked a war with a powerful enemy. These charges against De Witt were
largely unjust, and were preferred only to punish him for his opposition
to reinstating the house of Orange in the stadtholdership and in the
chief command of all the military forces of the Republic.

John de Witt had made two radical errors in his estimate of the
political situation. He knew that Louis the Fourteenth felt irritated at
the Dutch Republic’s action in preventing his acquisition of the Spanish
Netherlands; but he did not know that the French King would resent that
action, and make gigantic preparations for crushing the Dutch Republic.
Never before had such tremendous efforts been made by a great nation to
destroy a weak neighbor. The war was to be short and decisive, and the
insolent “traders”--that was the name the haughty French King gave to
the citizens of the Netherlands--were to be punished radically. The
second error which De Witt committed was his underestimation of the
venality and corruption existing in the government circles of his former
allies, England and Sweden. He learned at an early day that French
diplomacy had induced them to recede from the Triple Alliance; but he
did not realize at the time that French gold and French promises had
persuaded these two powers to make common cause with him for the
dismemberment of the Republic, and to furnish troops for that purpose.
When finally the full reality of the King’s revengeful plan was revealed
to him, he not only aroused the people of the Netherlands to a
realization of the terrible danger which threatened them, but he also,
with his usual energy, went to work to find assistance against the
overwhelming odds among the other European powers, and his experienced
statesmanship served him well in bringing into play all the different
motives, both personal and political, by which he could hope to
influence their decisions.

Unfortunately the allies he could enlist in his cause were too weak to
constitute an adequate counterpoise to the enormous power of his
opponent. In stating the general political situation of Europe
preceding the attack of Louis the Fourteenth on the Dutch Republic, we
have already mentioned the causes which prevented the other powers from
active interference in behalf of the Netherlands. The aggressive Turk,
also influenced by French money, kept the Emperor of Germany busy in his
eastern provinces, and left him little time to care for other things
than his own protection. Moreover Louis the Fourteenth had, by
munificent presents and liberal payments, won the secret support of the
Emperor’s prime minister, Lobkowitz, who did all in his power to
overcome his master’s fears concerning the intentions of the French
King, and frustrated the efforts of the King’s enemies to draw him over
to their side. De Witt had to contend with these difficulties in
securing little more than the moral support of the Emperor; but when the
rapid progress of the French arms had revealed to him the danger which
threatened the Empire, he consented reluctantly and hesitatingly to a
sort of active intervention for the protection of the German territory.

One ally of the Dutch Republic should not be forgotten here--Frederick
William, the great Elector of Brandenburg, whose political genius
enabled him to see the disastrous consequences which the growing power
of the King of France would have not only for the German Empire, but
also for his own possessions on the Rhine. He, therefore, concluded an
alliance with the Dutch Republic, promising an army of twenty thousand
men in defence of German soil against the aggression of the French King,
and used besides his influence over the German Emperor in persuading him
to join the alliance. The Elector of Brandenburg was for one reason a
particularly valuable ally, because his army was needed to keep in
check the Swedes, who were to take the field in northern Germany as soon
as the German Emperor would show a disposition to coöperate with the
Dutch Republic. The decisive victory of Fehrbellin, in which the great
Elector routed a Swedish army much superior in numbers to his own,
showed how gloriously he performed his part of the programme.

It was at this time that the Prince of Orange, although only twenty
years old, appeared to the Dutch people as a savior from these
threatened calamities. The young Prince, after the death of his mother,
in 1661, passed under the guardianship of John de Witt, who had him
instructed in political science and in the study of modern languages. It
would seem that, with the foresight of genius, he foresaw the prominent
part which Prince William would sooner or later play in the history of
the Republic, and that, in spite of his personal antipathy to the house
of Orange, he was patriotic enough to educate him well for his coming
career. The precarious condition of his health, which seemed to
disqualify the Prince for the hardships and exposures of military life,
had no influence whatever on his ambition to equal the great
achievements of his ancestors. An opportunity for reaching the goal of
his ambition was given him when the States-General, in obedience to the
urgent demand of the people, appointed him Captain-General of the
Republic. Although the powers of the new commander-in-chief were limited
by several provisions, yet the Republican party, under the leadership of
De Witt, demanded more and better guarantees for curbing the ambition of
the Prince. It demanded and obtained from the States-General an order
that the Captain-General should be obliged to swear to maintain the
Perpetual Edict suppressing the stadtholdership and prohibiting its
reëstablishment. John de Witt also strongly opposed the life-appointment
of the Prince of Orange until he should have completed his twenty-second
year, while the Orangists and the Prince himself made his
life-appointment a condition for his acceptance. A compromise was
finally reached, and Prince William of Orange, known in history as
William the Third, was solemnly inaugurated in his new office of
commander-in-chief. On him was imposed the difficult task to oppose the
armies of Louis the Fourteenth, commanded by Condé, Turenne, Luxembourg
and Vauban. Entire harmony and good-will seemed to exist between the
Grand Pensionary and the Prince after the latter’s appointment to the
command of the army. They corresponded in a very cordial tone, and De
Witt showed the greatest eagerness to satisfy the wishes of the Prince
for the thorough defence of the country. It is not our purpose to
mention in detail the indefatigable exertions of John de Witt to place
the country in a suitable state of defence. But these exertions and the
measures they resulted in were not sufficient to avert the calamities of
the war and to prevent a conquest which everybody had foreseen. The
Netherlanders had enjoyed peace for twenty-four years, and this long
rest had unaccustomed the country to war. The constant quarrels between
the different parties had weakened the unity of the Republic, and when
the time for united and patriotic action came, the nation was but ill
prepared for it.

On the sixth of April, 1672, France issued a declaration of war which
had been long expected. Louis the Fourteenth celebrated beforehand the
conquest he was about to undertake, although some of his most
experienced generals, Condé for instance, did not share his confidence.
However, the rapidity with which the French, after having crossed the
Yssel, took cities and fortresses almost without firing a gun, seemed
fully to justify Louis the Fourteenth in his anticipation of an easy and
brilliant victory. One short month had sufficed to place at the mercy of
the French monarch the flourishing and prosperous Republic, which four
years before had interrupted him in his march of victory. No man
suffered more both as a patriot and as a public official, from the
disastrous turn in public affairs than John de Witt. He had done all
that a sagacious statesman and a noble-minded patriot could do to
prevent, and failing in this attempt, sought to repair the disasters
which overwhelmed the Republic. But the ungrateful people failed to
stand by him and reward his exertions for the public welfare. And not
only the honor of having saved the independence of his country in this
unequal conflict was denied to him, but his life itself was lost, as a
sacrifice to popular hatred and fanaticism.

Under these exasperating circumstances--each new day bringing
information of a new calamity, of the surrender of a fortress, of the
capitulation of a garrison, of the precipitate retreat of the army--it
was not only natural, it was a matter of duty and patriotism for John de
Witt, the head of the government, to enter into negotiations with the
conqueror in order to check his rapid advance and get from him better
terms of peace than might be expected after he had captured the last
bulwarks of Dutch independence. It was by no means De Witt’s plan to
open negotiations for the surrender of Dutch independence; but he hoped
that the French King would consent to suspend hostilities during the
progress of the negotiations, and that this intermission would give the
Republic time to strengthen its bulwarks. In case of an unfavorable
result, he would resume armed resistance with greater chances of success
than before. John de Witt had frequently, during the months preceding
the outbreak of the war, insisted on making adequate preparations to
meet an attack of the French King, whose restless ambition for military
glory and territorial expansion was well known. He had also pointed out
(if all other means should fail) the necessity of again, as in the war
with Spain, resorting to those means of defence which nature had placed
in the possession of the Dutch, by opening the sluices and cutting the
dykes, in order to let the sea overflow the bottom lands of the country,
and thus protecting Holland, and above all Amsterdam, from foreign
occupation. This last measure of defence, terrible and destructive as it
was necessarily, was really the anchor of hope upon which the minds of
Dutch patriots rested their expectations of final triumph.

The Dutch navy was in excellent condition. It was still mistress of the
seas, and it had lately, under the able command of De Ruyter one of the
greatest naval heroes that ever lived, won two great victories over the
fleets of France and England, which secured the Republic against the
landing of foreign troops from the sea side. The Republic had spared no
efforts to keep the navy in splendid condition, and more than any other
man Cornelius de Witt had contributed to its efficiency. He was an
intimate friend of Admiral de Ruyter, and during the naval battle of
Solbay, although seriously ill, he sat by his side, as the official
delegate of the States-General, assisting him with his counsels, and by
his very presence inspiring sailors and commanders with patriotic
devotion. The greatness of his services to the Republic had been
formally recognized after that battle by a unanimous vote of thanks of
the States-General.

It would seem almost a matter of impossibility that with such a record
of patriotism, integrity and devotion to the public welfare, the voice
of calumny should have been successfully raised against the two
illustrious brothers; but it was done nevertheless by the Orange party,
which did not forgive their opposition to the elevation of Prince
William. The young Prince had, during the short campaign, won no martial
laurels by victories in battles or by the capture of fortresses; but he
had shown eminent qualities which promised glorious results if an
opportunity were given for unfolding them. He was wise and circumspect
beyond his years, self-collected and cool amid the most pressing
dangers, inexhaustible in resources, and while thoroughly loyal to the
Republic, yet proud of his ancestors and the preëminent part they had
played in the history of their country.

As soon as the report became public that the Grand Pensionary had taken
steps for negotiations with the French King, the Orange party denounced
them as acts of treason, and loudly demanded that Prince William should
be placed in supreme authority. It also asserted that the failure of the
campaign so far was due to the restrictions foolishly and criminally
imposed on the Prince, who might have saved the Republic if he had been
permitted to follow the inspirations of his own genius and had not been
fettered by instructions from men that had been his life-long enemies
and who preferred the rule of a foreign monarch to the stadtholdership
of a Prince of Orange. In this manner the public mind was filled with
hatred toward the De Witts, while gradually the young Prince of Orange
became the idol of the nation. Recollections of the glorious
achievements of his forefathers, of their perseverance and patience, of
their intrepidity and resoluteness, and of their final triumphs in
situations as perilous as theirs, were awakened in the hearts of the
burghers, and made them inclined to a restoration of the stadtholdership
in behalf of the Prince. It was to be expected that sooner or later
public excitement, aggravated from hour to hour by the unfavorable
reports from the seat of war, would manifest itself in a violent
explosion and fall with destructive force upon the very heads which were
most entitled to public gratitude and veneration.

Two attempts on the lives of the two brothers in the summer of 1672--an
attack on John de Witt which came very near killing him and prostrated
him for weeks on a sick bed, and the other on Cornelius, who escaped
from it almost unhurt--were the first serious manifestations of the
public ill-will. It was only too evident that the Orange party was at
the bottom of these outbursts of hostility, and that Prince William
himself was not a stranger to the intrigues. On the second of July,
1672, the Prince of Orange was elected Stadtholder of Holland and
Zealand for life. These were the only two provinces not occupied by the
French armies, and the Prince’s

[Illustration: CORNELIUS DE WITT]

election was therefore equivalent to his appointment as Stadtholder of
the Republic. In effect it placed the De Witts at his mercy.

In vain the Grand Pensionary handed in his resignation on the fourth of
August. The Orange party was not satisfied with permitting him to retire
from the public service; it formed a sinister conspiracy which engulfed
the two illustrious men in ruin and death. A worthless scoundrel, a
certain Tichelaar who on several occasions had been accused of felonies,
openly charged Cornelius de Witt with having tried to bribe him to
assassinate the Prince Stadtholder,--a proposition which he had
indignantly rejected in spite of the tempting rewards offered to him.
Incredible as it may appear, the accusation, contradicted both by the
noble character of Cornelius de Witt and by the bad reputation of the
informer, was eagerly acted upon by the authorities of Holland.
Cornelius was arrested and imprisoned at the Hague, where for four days
he was subjected to the infamy of the torture. It was hoped that in his
agony he would make a confession of guilt which, true or not, would
justify his partisan judges in passing a sentence of death on him. But
Cornelius remained firm in his disdainful denial of the odious
accusation, and the repetition of the torture on four different days did
not change his testimony. Under these circumstances his base judges,
instruments of the Stadtholder and his party, did not dare to pronounce
the death sentence against him; but they found him guilty nevertheless,
deprived him of all his public dignities, and exiled him for life from
the territory of the Republic.

It may appear strange that the Orange party persecuted Cornelius de
Witt, who was the brother of the Grand Pensionary, with such venomous
hatred; but an occurrence which had shortly preceded his arrest will
explain the ill-will of the leaders of the Orange party. Like the other
cities of Holland, the city of Dordrecht had, by a vote of its Common
Council, revoked the Perpetual Edict. Cornelius de Witt had but a few
weeks before returned from the battle of Solbay, where he had so greatly
distinguished himself, and was confined to his bed by serious illness.
Being one of the highest city officials, his signature was required on
the act of revocation, and the Orange leaders demanded that the document
should be forthwith presented to him. City officials, followed by an
excited and hostile mob, took it to his residence and requested him to
sign it. He refused. In vain his family, his friends, and his servants
implored him to affix his signature, telling him that a mob of thousands
of excited people surrounded the house and threatened to demolish it and
kill the inhabitants if his name should not appear on the paper. Finally
the supplications and tears of his wife and children, imploring him not
to sacrifice their lives by his obstinacy, induced him to affix his
signature, but he added the two initials V. C. to it; and when the
officials asked him what those two letters meant, he answered, “They
stand for the words ‘Vi coactus’” (yielding to violence). This
declaration caused an outburst of indignation in the crowd, and but for
the speedy erasure of the obnoxious initials by his wife, and the
energetic efforts of his friends to protect him, Cornelius de Witt would
very likely on that day have paid for his boldness with his life. It was
ascertained that Tichelaar, who shortly afterwards accused him of
having planned the assassination of the Prince of Orange, had been one
of the mob surrounding the house and vociferously demanding the
punishment of the rebellious magistrate. The infamous charge of
Tichelaar against the great patriot had unquestionably sprung from the
scene at Cornelius de Witt’s residence. The Orange leaders saw that it
would not be safe for them or their master to let republicans like the
two De Witts remain among them, and their death was resolved upon.

The twentieth of August, 1672, was the fatal day which was to seal the
doom of the two illustrious brothers. Cornelius, crushed by the sentence
of perpetual banishment pronounced against him, remained in his cell at
the Buitenhof, the terrible prison of the Hague. On the morning of that
day John de Witt was called to the Buitenhof, where his brother wished
to see him. Although warned by his friends not to go, the brave
ex-Pensionary did not hesitate to comply with the summons. It was a
false message. Reaching the prison, he found himself entrapped and at
the mercy of the mob, which had assembled before the prison howling and
shouting, “Hurrah for Orange! Death to the traitors!” It was but a short
time after his arrival, and after a hurried and pathetic interview with
his brother, that the rabble, instigated by the calumnies of the Orange
men, burst open the doors of the prison, and with axes and
sledge-hammers and clubs forced their way up to the cell where Cornelius
was imprisoned. At the sight of the two brothers the fury of the mob
knew no bounds. Like tigers they jumped upon them, threw them down,
clubbed and slew them amid cries of beastly exultation. “There goes the
Perpetual Edict!” one of the butchers is said to have exclaimed as a
powerful blow with the butt-end of his musket prostrated John de Witt
senseless at his feet. Another murderer came up, and noticing symptoms
of returning consciousness in the countenance of the Pensionary, he
fired his pistol at him, blowing out his brains. Cornelius was killed by
a tremendous blow with an iron bar which fractured his skull; he died
instantly. But death alone did not satisfy the slayers. With unheard-of
brutality they kicked, beat and abused, in every possible manner, the
lifeless bodies, and finally, after having stripped off their clothes,
dragged the mangled and disfigured remains from the jail to a gibbet
which had been erected by volunteer executioners, and hung them by the
feet. The popular frenzy went so far that the murderers cut and tore the
flesh in pieces from the bodies of “the great traitors, John and
Cornelius de Witt,” and sold them in the streets of the city for a few
cents each.

Thus suffered and died, on the twentieth of August, 1672, two of the
purest and most high-minded patriots that any nation has
produced,--murdered by their own people, whom they had served faithfully
and successfully for many years. Their death is a dark blot on the
annals of the Dutch Republic: and it is an indelible stain on the
otherwise great and fair name of William the Third of Orange,
Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic and afterwards King of England.
History has forgotten many crimes, but it will not forget the
assassination of the brothers De Witt.



CHAPTER XV

ALEXIS, SON OF PETER THE GREAT

[Illustration: ALEXIS]



CHAPTER XV

ASSASSINATION OF ALEXIS, SON OF PETER THE GREAT

(June 26, 1718)


The sudden death of Alexis, son of Peter the Great by his first wife
Eudoxia, has always been and is still shrouded in mystery; but the
prevailing opinion of historians is that the unfortunate young man was
assassinated by direct order of his father, and all the surrounding
circumstances point to this conclusion. We think we are therefore
justified in placing it here among the famous assassinations in history.
It is the darkest chapter in the history of Peter the Great, a monarch
whose achievements as a civil administrator, reformer, and general
entitle him to a high rank among the really great rulers of Europe; but
these achievements should not be made a cloak or excuse for a crime from
which not only modern civilization, but human nature itself, shrinks
back in horror.

It is not necessary here to go into the details of the marvellous
activity and energy of Peter’s life. More than any other ruler of
ancient or modern times he stands before the world as a model national
reformer, introducing, by the force of an indomitable will, the most
sweeping changes and reforms into the social, economical, political,
industrial, and commercial life of the nation over which he rules,
breaking with all the traditions of the past, and lifting his nation by
a supreme effort from comparative barbarism into semi-culture, and
starting it on the road to political greatness and commercial
importance, on which it has made such astounding progress during the
last two hundred years. The personal genius and initiative of Peter the
Great have contributed more to the development of Russia’s resources,
and he has done more to raise her to her present position in Europe than
all other causes combined. It is sad for the philanthropist and
historian to admit that these great qualities were obscured by vices and
habits that were, perhaps, the tribute which even the greatest of
mortals has to pay to his age and to his nation.

As a very young man Peter had married Eudoxia Laputkin, the daughter of
a powerful and influential family. It was not a love marriage, but he
had hoped to gain from this alliance a strengthening of his pretensions
to the throne. Eudoxia was very handsome, but, while she pleased Peter,
she had not the power to win his exclusive affection. She bore him a
son, Alexis, but even the birth of an heir--generally so anxiously
expected by autocrats--could not firmly establish intimate relations
between Peter and Eudoxia while he permitted the boy to remain entirely
under the care of the mother and her relatives. Unfortunately the
Laputkin family was strongly attached to ancient Russian traditions and
usages. It was entirely under the influence of the priests and clung to
the prejudices and prerogatives of the Russian aristocracy. Alexis was
brought up in these opinions and absorbed them from his infancy. In
fact no two minds, and no two temperaments could have been more at
variance than those of the father and of the son; and, as the boy grew
up, the antagonism between Peter and Alexis became greater and more
pronounced.

Whether from incompatibility of temper or some other cause, Peter
discarded Eudoxia and had her shut up in a convent in 1698; he then took
the boy out of her hands and entrusted his education to teachers in
sympathy with his own ideas. But they found it impossible--and even
Peter himself, in spite of rigorous measures and cruelty--to eradicate
from the mind of the boy the conservative and old-Russian principles
which his mother and the Laputkins had, as it would seem, planted deep
within it. When Peter divorced Eudoxia and shut her up in a convent, the
antipathy of the boy turned into hatred, and he clung only the more
stubbornly to his mother and her family. As he grew older, he became
intemperate and dissipated; but, more than these vices, the sluggishness
of his mind and the open hostility with which he looked upon the great
reforms in which Peter was engaged and in which he took great pride,
irritated his father to such a degree that the Czar formed the plan of
excluding him from the succession.

In order to break his bad habits and possibly to bring about a salutary
change in his rude and uncouth conduct, Alexis was married quite young
to a Princess of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, a lovely and refined young
woman of great personal beauty; but Alexis treated her very coldly and
cruelly. The fact that his father had selected his bride was sufficient
cause for him to treat her with contempt and aversion. She bore her
misfortune with great resignation; but died of a broken heart, after
having given her husband two children, a daughter and a son. The latter
afterwards ascended the throne as Peter the Second.

The death of his wife made but little impression on Alexis, who had been
living for a long time in open adultery with his mistress, an illiterate
serf from Finland. When this matrimonial attempt to reform Alexis had
failed, the Czar, more than ever incensed at his obstinacy, gave him the
choice between changing his ways and being sent to a convent. The Czar
was the more inclined to shut him up in a solitary place of confinement
because Catherine, his second wife, had just given birth to a son, and
Peter might hope to have a male heir, even with Alexis out of the way.
The birth of this half-brother filled the mind of Alexis with vague
fears. But being assured by his friends, and especially by the Laputkins
and the priests, that he might easily, at the proper time, get out of
the convent, since the cowl would not be nailed to his head, he
hypocritically declared in favor of the convent, and told his father
that he had a greater vocation for spiritual things than for the
government of an empire. The confinement was, however, not so very
solitary as it might have appeared to the Czar; on the contrary, both
Alexis and Eudoxia were the chief personages around whom the malcontents
and all the opponents of reform clustered with hopeful expectation.
Alexis treated his imprisonment so lightly that he imprudently spoke of
what he was going to do as soon as he had ascended the throne. “I shall
be the Czar,” said he; “they cannot keep me out of the succession. Let
his foreigners intrigue against me; I shall beat them all, for the
people are for me, and I’ll set all things right again. We shall then be
Russians once more!”

In the meantime Peter the Great had started on a new European tour.
Catherine, his wife, accompanied him. He went to Prussia, Denmark,
Holland, England and France, and was received everywhere with the
greatest honors and distinctions. At Amsterdam the unwelcome news
reached him that Alexis had left his convent under a false pretence,
saying that he would join the Czar on his travels; but he had proceeded
to Vienna and placed himself under the protection of the German Emperor.
The Czar immediately despatched two of his most intimate friends with
instructions to bring him back, alive or dead. But when the two
messengers reached Vienna, the Czarowitz had left that city already, and
his whereabouts was unknown. But after a diligent search, it was
discovered that he had gone to Naples and had found an asylum at the
Castle of St. Angelo. The messengers hurried to Naples and succeeded in
getting an interview with the Prince, in which they exhausted their
eloquence to induce him to return with them to Russia. They read to him
also a letter written by his father, who promised him that, upon his
immediate return, his escapade would be forgiven and forgotten. The
Prince was not willing to go, and consented only when the Viceroy of
Naples joined his own request with the entreaties of the messengers. The
Czar had returned already to St. Petersburg when Alexis arrived.

The Prince hoped to be kindly received and to be treated like a
repentant son; but in this expectation he found himself badly deceived.
He was immediately arrested and subjected to a very severe
interrogatory, in the course of which he implicated a number of
prominent persons in having planned and assisted him in his flight from
Russia. And then a mock trial of the most infamous character was
enacted. The young Prince had already renounced all his rights to the
crown; but this renunciation did not assuage the vindictive spirit of
his father. Those whom Alexis, in his confusion and in the agony of the
torture, had implicated in the crime of which he was accused, were tried
for high treason, convicted, and beheaded or broken on the wheel. The
ex-Empress Eudoxia was transferred to a dungeon in another prison, after
having been cruelly chastised by two nuns. Alexis himself, from whom the
cruel application of the torture (during which the Czar was present) had
extorted the confession of crimes which he had never committed, was
convicted of high treason and sentenced to be beheaded. The Czar
insisted on a verdict of capital punishment, and the one hundred and
eighty-one judges composing the court obeyed the imperial brute; they
rendered a unanimous verdict. Peter hypocritically said that he would
pardon him. When the decision of the judges and his father’s promise of
clemency were communicated to Alexis, he was overcome with terror and
excitement, and led back to prison. The next day it was reported that he
had died of apoplexy, but that in his last moments an affectionate
interview had taken place between him and his father. Another report
stated that the Czar had withdrawn his pardon and ordered his son to be
beheaded without delay. And still another report, almost too horrid to
be true, says that Peter, with his own hands, cut off the head of his
son. There is no doubt that the young man was foully murdered. The story
of his death by apoplexy was merely invented to whitewash the memory of
one of the greatest, but also of one of the most brutal and cruel rulers
that ever lived.



CHAPTER XVI

PETER THE THIRD OF RUSSIA

[Illustration: PETER III.]



CHAPTER XVI

ASSASSINATION OF PETER THE THIRD OF RUSSIA

(July 17, 1762)


In a previous chapter we have told the story, full of horror and crime,
of the life of Ivan the Terrible of Russia. It was not one famous
assassination which placed that life-story in this series of historical
murders; it was an uninterrupted, long-continued succession of
butcheries and assassinations which entitled it to this place. In the
long line of historical characters extending through the ages there is
not one who so fully deserves the designation of a wholesale assassin as
Ivan the Terrible, the demon of the North. But strange to say, the
Russians, who during his lifetime execrated him and fled from him as
from contagion, to-day seem to have forgotten his iniquities, and place
him among their great rulers. Let Karamsin, one of the few great
historians Russia has produced, explain this seeming anomaly: “Such was
the Czar! Such were his subjects! Their patience was boundless, for they
regarded the commands of the Czar as the commands of God, and they
considered every act of disobedience to the Czar’s will as a rebellion
against the will of God. They perished, but they saved for us, the
Russians of the nineteenth century, the greatness and the power of
Russia, for the strength of an empire rests in the willingness of an
empire to obey.” Words like these make us comprehend--what otherwise
would be utterly incomprehensible to us--that a monster like Ivan the
Terrible was permitted to continue his career of crime and murder until
it was terminated by death brought on by disease and not by violence.

The history of Russia, after the death of Ivan the Terrible, is full of
crimes and assassinations. Czars and heirs to the crown were ruthlessly
murdered in order to make way for usurpers and pretenders, until these
again fell victims to conspiracies. The most famous of these
assassinations is that of Peter the Third, not only because it was
carried out in the interest of his own wife, the Empress Catherine, but
mainly perhaps because Russia, at that time,--1762--had already entered
the list of great European powers. Peter the Third was the son of
Charles Frederick, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, and of the Grand-Duchess
Anna of Russia, oldest daughter of Peter the Great. As such, young Peter
had even a better right to the crown of Russia than the Empress
Elizabeth, who was a younger daughter of Peter the Great; and it was
Elizabeth herself who, in 1742, sent for Peter--then a boy at school in
Germany--and declared him her heir and successor to the crown.

Peter was then only fifteen years of age. His education until then had
been designed to fit him for the throne of Denmark and Sweden, upon
which his father had a just claim; but preferring the prospect of
sitting on the throne of the Czars, he went to St. Petersburg. The
Empress spared no pains to educate her nephew for the high and difficult
task which was in store for him as the future ruler of Russia. But it
was in vain that she tried to make a Russian of him; he remained not
only at heart, but also in his tastes, his manners, his conduct, his
amusements and occupations a German; and what was worse, he liked to
show publicly and privately how strongly attached he was to the land of
his birth, and how profoundly he despised the people of Russia, over
whom he was to rule. In a foreign-born crown-prince such a disposition
would have been a serious political mistake under all circumstances, but
it was especially so in this case, since Russia had been engaged, for
years, in war with Frederick the Great of Prussia, and had made great
sacrifices in men and treasures to conquer him and to cripple his
growing power and influence in Europe.

Elizabeth hated Frederick the Great with the passion of a woman offended
in her vanity. He had said of her: “She is as ugly as a cat and as
treacherous; the very thought of her makes me sick.” The hatred of the
Empress did not prevent the Crown Prince from openly expressing his
unbounded admiration for the Prussian King. True, Peter was mentally too
insignificant to comprehend the real greatness and genius of Frederick;
but he admired the strict discipline, the rigid training, the incessant
military exercises, the severe punishments for the slightest infraction
of the rules and the least symptom of insubordination,--in short, all
the outward and visible work in the preparation of a model army; and the
Prussian army had become the model of Europe since the days of King
Frederick William the First. He was anxious to introduce these Prussian
features into the Russian army, expecting very likely that such
externals would be the principal means of making an army invincible.
That it took the genius and the untiring energy of a Frederick to bring
about this invincibility he failed to see. When Peter had grown up to
manhood his military zeal increased and became a perfect passion. But he
felt no desire to join the Russian army in the field and earn military
distinction and honors; no, he preferred to stay at home and act the
drillmaster of a regiment of Holsteiners, which the Empress had
organized for his especial pleasure, and to whose equipment, drill and
exercises the young Grand Duke devoted most of his leisure hours. The
men were uniformed and armed exactly like Prussian grenadiers, and all
the officers belonged to prominent German families. The organization of
this regiment made the Grand Duke very unpopular among the members of
the Russian nobility, and they lost no opportunity in blackening his
character and belittling his mental qualifications.

In 1745 Peter married the Princess of Anhalt-Zerbst, the daughter of a
Prussian field-marshal. She was distinguished by great beauty and high
mental attainments, and afterwards won world-wide renown under the name
of Catherine the Second. She was originally named Sophia Augusta, but
when the Empress Elizabeth selected her for the wife of her successor,
she adopted the name of Catherine. Before his marriage, Peter had led a
rather dissolute life, but for a couple of years after the wedding the
young couple seemed to be quite happy. Peter himself was very
good-looking and, although not a man of brilliant mind, was of average
intelligence and culture. An attack of small-pox destroyed his good
looks; and this circumstance combined with the volatile character of
his wife caused an estrangement, which seemed to grow from year to year,
and finally degenerated into absolute hatred. From that time on husband
and wife, although not formally divorced or even separated, lived each a
life of unrestrained vice.

No sooner had the courtiers noticed the growing coldness between them
than they tried to ingratiate themselves with the young and beautiful
but profligate Catherine, and some of them succeeded only too well. The
first of her lovers was Count Soltikoff, one of the handsomest men of
the Russian court, and first chamberlain of the Grand Duke. In his
privileged position in the service of the Grand Duke he had so many
opportunities of meeting the Grand Duchess, that soon the closest
intimacy was established between them. But somehow or other a report of
the liaison reached the ears of the Empress, and she sent Soltikoff on a
diplomatic mission to Turkey in the hope of putting a stop to it. But
the Grand Duchess easily consoled herself. No sooner had Soltikoff left
the capital than Catherine formed a new liaison. Her next lover was the
beautiful and chivalrous Prince Poniatowski, of the renowned Polish
family; the scandal became so notorious and excited so much envy and
jealousy among the Russian courtiers that it reached the ears of the
Grand Duke, who applied to the Empress and demanded that his wife be
punished for her shameful conduct. The Empress, who was guilty herself
of many scandalous love affairs, did not reprimand the Grand Duchess,
but sent Poniatowski back to Poland. A short time afterwards he
returned, however, having been appointed Polish Ambassador at the court
of St. Petersburg. The Grand Duke was indignant at his unlooked-for
return, and having one day surprised him in a very intimate
_tête-à-tête_ with Catherine, upbraided him and her in the presence of
the whole court, threatening at the time to drive him like a dog from
the palace, and to imprison her in a convent. At the same time the Grand
Duke himself was very far from leading an exemplary life. He had picked
out among the ladies of the court a young and beautiful girl, Countess
Woronzow, and made her his mistress.

The time came when the Empress Elizabeth was on her deathbed. She made
then a last attempt to reconcile the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess,
in order to secure peace for Russia; but the estrangement and repugnance
which they felt for each other was so great that this attempt failed
utterly. In fact, the chasm widened immensely after the death of
Elizabeth, and neither the husband nor the wife took care to conceal it.
Moreover, immediately after Peter’s accession to the throne, a radical
change occurred in the policy of the government,--a change that was
warmly approved by some, but most bitterly opposed by others. Two great
political parties were formed, and although the opponents of the
government were compelled to practise their agitation in secret, they
nevertheless counted a number of the most influential men among their
leaders. The new Emperor broke loose entirely from the traditional
policy of Russia; he not only withdrew from the Franco-Austrian
alliance, but he sent orders to the Russian generals in the field
against Frederick the Great of Prussia to coöperate with him. Peter
himself donned the uniform of a Prussian general, which grade Frederick
the Great had conferred upon him at his special request; all exercises
and manœuvres of the Russian army were, by direction of the Czar,
fashioned after those of the Prussian army, and Russian traditions and
customs were disregarded.

The indignation and discontent among the high nobility of Russia at
these “reforms”--which they ridiculed and despised--knew no bounds. In
these sentiments they were encouraged by the Czar’s wife, who both from
personal hostility and from the intuition of her far-sighted political
genius, opposed them as anti-Russian and as the manifestations of a
Teuto-maniac unfit to rule over the great Russian nation. Her husband
became more and more aggressive in his threats. He spoke openly, among
his intimates, of his intention to imprison Catherine in a convent and
to marry his mistress, Elizabeth Woronzow, and branded the son whom
Catherine had borne to him, as a bastard, who would be excluded from the
succession. It was therefore in self-defence that Catherine surrounded
herself with men of power and influence. She entered into close
relations with high officers of the Russian army, who still adhered with
loyal devotion to the traditions of Peter the Great and Elizabeth; and
although far from being pious and religious herself, she surrounded
herself with the high dignitaries of the Russian Church, whom Peter
insulted by neglect. Catherine, on the other hand, manifested a great
interest in religious ceremonies and a strict observance of the Greek
Church service; and at all times prominent clergymen were guests at
Peterhof, her residence.

Peter the Third wished to realize on the throne of Russia the ideal of
enlightened despotism, of which his idol, King Frederick the Second of
Prussia, was so illustrious a model. One of his first acts was to recall
the political exiles from Siberia--among them the two fieldmarshals
Münnich and Biron, who had been exiled by Elizabeth. It is assuredly one
of the most lamentable spectacles to behold on the throne of a great
Empire an ignorant, narrow-minded, whimsical, and fanatical ruler,
introducing, under the name of “reforms,” vital and extraordinary
changes in the administration and government, utterly unsuited to the
character and culture of his nation. Even with the best intentions he
will fail and pass for a fool.

Many of Peter’s measures were humane and just, and might have been
considered judicious if he had not, by the manner in which he introduced
them, provoked a resistance which proved fatal to them. He had no
knowledge of Russian character, and looked down upon public sentiment.
Even as Czar he gave public expression of his contempt for Russia, and
placed it in every respect below Germany. With incredible
self-sufficiency he disregarded all counsels to be more prudent in his
public utterances and to proceed more slowly in his efforts to
Prussianize Russia’s methods of administration and her system of civil
and criminal jurisprudence. He abolished time-honored institutions; he
attacked the privileges of the Church and the clergy; he ordered the
churches and chapels to be deprived of their wealth and golden ornaments
and images; he confiscated real estate belonging to the government, but
occupied and taken possession of by the clergy; he reduced the
exorbitant salaries of great noblemen in the provinces. By such acts he
engendered protests, dissatisfaction, and threats in the very classes
upon which the throne has to lean in despotic countries. To cap the
climax, he dismissed the Russian body-guards and surrounded himself
exclusively with German troops. The Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, his own
cousin, was placed in command of these German regiments, under whose
protection the Emperor considered himself absolutely safe. The King of
Prussia, who was well informed on all matters going on at the Russian
court, and who more than anybody else in Europe had an interest at stake
to prolong the reign of his admirer, warned him again and again against
the intrigues of his wife and the “old-Russian party,” but Peter was
blinded by his prejudices and paid no attention to the warnings. He
underrated his wife’s talent for political combinations and intrigue,
and was far from suspecting that from the very first day of his reign
his fate was sealed and his days numbered.

A great historian has called Catherine of Russia “the
Messalina-Richelieu” of history, indicating by that combination that she
was a monster of voluptuousness, insatiable in lust, and a prodigy of
statecraft and political shrewdness. The name is wonderfully
appropriate, for hardly ever has any female ruler, with the exception of
the infamous Roman Empress, so shamelessly prostituted herself as
Catherine the Second of Russia, and never has any woman, not even
Elizabeth of England, possessed political genius to a higher degree. It
was Peter the Great who introduced Russia into the list of European
states, but it was Catherine the Second whose genius breathed into the
gigantic empire its policy of grasping and ambitious expansion, which
has placed her standards as tutelary guards already over the northern
half of Asia, and which is yet far from being satisfied.

While the Czar was amusing himself with new reforms which were at best
dead letters and created new enemies for him, his wife was untiring in
her efforts to win new friends and new supporters for the great _coup
d’état_ which she was preparing as the crowning act of her ambition. She
wanted to be Empress in her own name, in order that she might make
Russia great and not be molested and embarrassed by a husband whom she
hated and despised. Her own personal memoirs, written in French and
published in London in 1858, whose authenticity has never been seriously
doubted, shows that when only fifteen years old, she was possessed by
this ambition, which she afterwards so fully realized. Among the
influential persons whose active coöperation Catherine had secured for
her ambitious plans was Princess Dashkow, a young woman of excellent
education and great ability, and sister of Elizabeth Woronzow. Princess
Dashkow, who, on account of the superiority of her mind had great
influence over her sister, proved a powerful auxiliary to Catherine in
this most critical period of her married life. Through her, Catherine
gained Count Panin, one of the ablest men of Russia and governor of the
young Grand-Duke Paul, Catherine’s son, as her ally. She told Panin that
she knew from her sister (the Czar’s mistress) that Peter the Third was
on the point of repudiating his wife, that he denied the legitimacy of
the young Grand Duke, that he intended to exclude him from the
succession, and to declare Ivan the Sixth his successor. This Prince had
been dethroned by Elizabeth and was retained as a prisoner in the
fortress of Schlüsselburg, but had fallen into idiocy. These
confidential communications induced Panin, who trembled for his own
position and possibly for his head, secretly to join the army of
malcontents, whose programme it was to dethrone Peter the Third,
proclaim his son, Paul, Emperor, and Catherine Regent of the Empire
during Paul’s minority. This programme was not exactly that of
Catherine, who aspired to be the sovereign Empress of Russia, and not
merely the Regent during her son’s minority, but with consummate ability
she welcomed Panin’s overtures as steps leading to her own elevation.

Whether Catherine had fully weighed and approved all the possibilities
which might result from the revolution which she had planned and for
which she had found so many instruments willing to help her, will very
likely remain forever an unsolved problem. Was she willing to sanction
the murder of her husband in order to step over his corpse to the
throne? This has been an open question with native and foreign
historians. Perhaps she honestly believed with Panin that she might get
rid of Peter in some way without either killing him or imprisoning him
for life. But it is absolutely certain that Catherine, in the summer of
1762, came to the conclusion that the time had come for striking a
decisive blow; and it is equally certain that, although not cruel by
nature, she never shrank back from any means to remove obstacles
standing in the way of her ambition. By the agency of her generals,
Suwarow, Potemkin, and Repnin, she sacrificed whole nations to her
ambition, and swept them off the face of the earth without feeling any
compunction at the barbarities committed. Does it look improbable
therefore that she may have consented to the assassination of her
husband, whom she detested, when all other means of silencing his claims
to the throne appeared unsafe?

A very important part, in fact the most important of all, in the
conspiracy against the Czar, was taken by the Orloffs, and especially by
Count Gregor Orloff, the favored lover of Catherine, who had the
reputation of being the handsomest officer of the Russian army. The
Empress was passionately in love with him, although pretty well founded
rumors asserted that she bestowed her secret favors also on Gregor’s
brother, Alexis, a perfect giant in stature and of herculean strength.
All the Orloffs--Gregor, Alexis, Ivan, and Feodor--held positions as
officers in the imperial guards or in the artillery, and were among the
warmest adherents of Catherine, whose elevation would raise them, as
they well knew, to the highest position in the Empire, immediately by
the side of the throne. They became active agitators for her in the
army, and were really the principal actors in the terrible drama of
Peter’s assassination. Quite a bloody tradition attached to the Orloff
family, and the part which they were to play in the revolution against
Peter the Third lent new confirmation to it and recalled it to the minds
of the Russian people. At the time when Peter the Great abolished the
strelitzi, attended their horrid executions, even helped in them, one
day the block of the executioner was so crowded with the heads of the
victims that there was no room for others. Then one of the condemned
coolly stepped forward and pushed several of the heads off the bench, as
if it had been his business to do so. The Czar looked on in astonishment
and turning to the man, who had already attracted his attention by his
herculean frame and the classic beauty of his features, asked him: “What
are you doing that for?” “To make room for my own head!” was the cool
reply. Peter the Great, who admired personal courage above everything
else, was so well pleased with the reply, that he immediately pardoned
the condemned and set him free. This pardoned officer was a young
nobleman, named Orloff--the grandfather of the five Orloffs who played
such a conspicuous part in the revolution of 1762, and one of whom
murdered Peter the Third with his own hands.

The outbreak of the revolution, as is usual in such cases, was caused by
an unexpected and trifling occurrence. A young officer of the imperial
guards, who had been won over to the party of Catherine, one evening
while under the influence of liquor, talked about the impending
revolution and was arrested by other officers who were not in the
conspiracy. Gregor Orloff heard of the arrest and immediately hurried to
Catherine, who was at Peterhof and had already retired for the night.
But Orloff went directly to her bedroom, aroused her from sleep and told
her that immediate action on her part was necessary, unless she wanted
to imperil and very likely lose the game for whose success they had been
working so patiently.

Catherine’s resolution was quickly taken. She immediately got up,
dressed rapidly, and half an hour afterwards the carriage which had
carried Orloff from St. Petersburg, returned thither with the Empress
and her attendant. It was five o’clock in the morning of the
twenty-ninth of June when they arrived at the capital. Two hours later
Catherine was on horseback, dressed in the uniform of a general of the
imperial guards, which Count Buturlin had furnished, on her way to the
armory of the Preobrajenski guards, accompanied by Gregor and Alexis
Orloff, and an escort of high officers who were in the conspiracy.
Princess Dashkow, also in an officer’s uniform, had preceded her, and
had announced to the officers of the guards that the Emperor, Peter the
Third, had died suddenly, that the Empress would shortly appear among
them in order to receive their homage and their oath of obedience as
heiress to the throne and Regent of the Empire during the minority of
her son. The officers consented immediately and influenced their
soldiers without difficulty when they were reminded of the late Czar’s
unjust partiality for the German regiments, and of Catherine’s
unwavering kindness to them. Both officers and soldiers greeted
Catherine, therefore, very enthusiastically when she arrived an hour
later, and both swore allegiance and devotion to her. Catherine’s
bearing on this trying occasion, was full of courage and dash. She had
never looked more beautiful, and the three regiments were perfectly
charmed with their new ruler. She then proceeded with her escort to the
Casan Church, where, in the meantime, the Archbishop of Novgorod and the
entire clergy of the capital had been assembled and were waiting for
her. The Archbishop administered the oath of office to her, and
Catherine swore to respect the laws and institutions of the Empire and
to protect the religion of the people, whereupon the entire clergy swore
allegiance to her. A solemn Te Deum, sung by thousands of voices,
terminated the grand ceremony, while the roar of artillery announced to
the inhabitants of St. Petersburg the accession of a new ruler.
Catherine had reached the goal of her ambition; she was now the
sovereign ruler of Russia, not merely in name, but in fact. She returned
to the imperial palace, where an immense multitude greeted her with
enthusiastic cheers. Many thousand roubles were scattered among the
populace, which was moreover treated liberally with whiskey and other
intoxicants, and cheered vociferously, until Catherine, who looked
charmingly beautiful in her gaudy uniform, showed herself again and
again on the balcony. Count Galitzin, vice-admiral of the Russian fleet,
was on a visit at St. Petersburg on that day. Catherine sent for him,
won him over to her side by amiability and promises, and sent him back
to Kronstadt, the Russian naval port, to inspire the garrison and
sailors of that stronghold with enthusiasm for the Empress,--so that the
capital was protected on the seaward side against a possible attack by
Peter the Third.

But even after having acted so promptly and so energetically, and after
having got possession of the capital and the principal part of the army
and the navy, Catherine had still a great deal to do, and her
penetrating genius did not underrate the danger of the situation in
which she found herself. All her successes in the capital among officers
had been secured by the fraudulent assertion that the Czar had died
suddenly, and there was no certainty whether Peter’s sudden appearance
at the capital, or a well-authenticated report that he was still among
the living and was hastening toward the capital, might cause a sudden
change in public sentiment. Undaunted by these secret apprehensions, and
impelled by the restless energy of her devouring ambition, she never
wavered in her resolution, but pressed onward toward the consummation of
her dangerous but tempting project, which seemed to be almost within her
grasp. Through the active agitation of her friends, and the strong and
widespread hostility of the people and the army against Peter’s
ill-advised measures of “reform,” she could, almost from the first
announcement of her accession to the throne, command an army of fifteen
thousand well-equipped men, who were ready to die for her against any
pretender, Peter the Third included.

The outbreak of the revolution was so sudden that Peter was taken
entirely by surprise, and would not listen to the first reports when
they reached him. He had gone on that very day to Oranienbaum, an
imperial summer resort, about twenty miles from St. Petersburg, where he
enjoyed himself with his Holstein guards, his favorites, and his
mistress, Elizabeth Woronzow. There were altogether about two thousand
soldiers with him; but there was also Field-marshal Münnich, Russia’s
most renowned soldier, and a man of great authority in the army.
Moreover Münnich was a man of great personal courage, and if Peter had
followed his counsels, he might have saved his crown and his life.
Münnich’s advice was to take immediate and bold measures, to meet
aggression by aggression, and to oppose the immense prestige of the
legitimate ruler to the revolutionary usurpation of an ambitious and
adulterous wife. But neither Peter’s personal character, nor his
immediate surroundings would admit of the acceptance of such bold and
aggressive action. He was like a helpless child, hesitating and
vacillating, sending out orders, and revoking them the next hour; asking
everybody’s advice, and following nobody’s. His mistress was bewailing
his misfortune, cursing Catherine and her treachery, and falling into
hysterics at the mere thought of a bloody struggle for supremacy
between Peter and his wife. It was easy to foresee the outcome of so
much indecision, vacillation and cowardice on one side, and of so much
determination, firmness and courage on the other.

After nearly the whole day had been spent in fruitless attempts to come
to a decision, Münnich finally, at about eight o’clock in the evening,
succeeded in persuading Peter to go on board of a yacht and proceed to
Kronstadt, where, he expected, the Emperor would be warmly welcomed. If
this step had been taken earlier in the day, it would very likely have
been successful. But it will be remembered that Catherine, after her
return from the Casan church, had an interview with Count Galitzin,
commander-in-chief of the naval forces at Kronstadt, and had secured his
coöperation. The Emperor was therefore not permitted to enter the
harbor, and when he himself appeared in the fore-part of the yacht and
proclaimed his identity, he was simply told to return to where he came
from, and that Russia had no longer an emperor, but an empress. Münnich
then appealed to Peter not to be deterred by such words, but to get into
one of the boats, in which he would accompany him, and to effect a
landing. “They will not shoot you,” the old field-marshal said, “this
whole affair is a bold game some of the high officers are playing, but
the soldiers are kept in ignorance, and when they meet their Emperor
face to face they will throw down their arms.” But when the women heard
from Peter that he would undertake to effect a landing on the coast,
they burst into tears and filled the ship with loud lamentations and
cries, and the Czar’s mistress threw herself at his feet imploring him
not to expose his precious life to the bullets of the rebels, and not
to abandon her, helpless and heartbroken, to the revenge of his enemies.
Peter was only too glad to take her despair as a pretext to recede from
Münnich’s proposition.

Münnich was disgusted and wished the women were a thousand miles off;
but he made still another proposition. He wanted to turn the imperial
yacht toward Reval, where quite a number of Russian warships were
assembled. Peter was to take command of this fleet, sail to Pomerania,
land on Prussian soil, proceed as rapidly as possible to the large
Russian army concentrated there, and return at the head of that army to
St. Petersburg, which, as the old and bold field-marshal believed, would
not even attempt to make resistance. “Within sixty days,” said he to
Peter, “your Empire will be at your feet again, your wife will be at
your mercy, and your whole people will hail you as a conqueror and
savior!” The plan was good and would very likely have succeeded if it
had been promptly acted upon. There were nearly eighty thousand Russian
soldiers--and they were the _élite_ of the Russian army--in Pomerania,
and if Peter had been supported by them, he could easily have quelled
the rebellion and recovered the throne.

But Peter was not the master of his own decisions. He obediently bowed
to the will of his mistress and her lady friends, and they strongly
protested against this new plan of the old fighter and “war-horse,” who,
they declared, had no heart and did not know what love meant. Countess
Woronzow persuaded Peter that the proper thing for him to do was to
return to Oranienbaum or Peterhof and make his peace with the Empress,
who would be only too glad to make an arrangement with him satisfactory
to both. This suggestion corresponded too well with the pusillanimous
and vacillating character of Peter to be rejected by him. So the whole
party returned to Peterhof, and negotiations were at once opened with
Catherine tending towards a reconciliation of the husband and wife.
Peter addressed a letter to his wife in which he offered her the
co-regency of the Empire, assuring her at the same time that the
occurrences of the past week should be entirely forgotten and that love
and harmony should in the future prevail in the imperial household. The
letter was haughtily rejected by the Empress; no answer came to it but a
verbal message that it was too late, and that no further communication
from him would be received except an act of entire abdication. Peter
thereupon surrendered unconditionally. He wrote a second letter to his
wife, in which he very humbly asked permission both for himself and his
mistress, Countess Woronzow, and a number of his attendants to return to
Holstein, where they would live quietly in retirement from all public
affairs. In order to carry out this wish, he asked for a pension
enabling him to live in becoming style, and in exchange for these favors
he recognized Catherine as Regent of the Empire during his son’s
minority.

Major-General Michael Ismailoff, one of Peter’s most intimate and most
trusted friends, was the bearer of this valuable document, which seemed
to satisfy Catherine, but was not equally satisfactory to Count Gregor
Orloff, who hoped to secure the hand of the Empress when Peter had been
put out of the way. Orloff’s secret design was to assassinate Peter and
then take his place by Catherine’s side. The Orloffs therefore took hold
of General Ismailoff, after he had handed the Czar’s letter to the
Empress, and induced him by supplications and brilliant promises to come
over to their side, and to assist them in making Peter a prisoner as the
only means of restoring peace and avoiding civil war. At first Ismailoff
resisted their offers, but at last he yielded. He returned to Peterhof
and played the part of a traitor to perfection. He told Peter that he
had delivered his letter to the Empress, and that she would, as a matter
of course, grant the request he had made, but that she was overcome with
sorrow at the turn things had taken, that she was perfectly willing to
admit him to a co-regency and to be reconciled to him, and that she was
anxious to meet him in a private interview at Oranienbaum in order to
arrange matters to their mutual satisfaction.

Peter fell easily into the trap. He immediately accepted the invitation
and got ready to go to Oranienbaum. At first he proposed to go there
under the escort of his Holsteiners, but Ismailoff persuaded him to let
them stay at Peterhof, because it might look as though he distrusted the
Empress and might offend her. Peter therefore went to Oranienbaum,
accompanied only by Ismailoff, who encouraged him in his most
extravagant expectations of a brilliant career still in store for him.
But there was a sad and sudden awakening from this dream of greatness.
On his arrival at Oranienbaum he found the courtyard filled with forty
or fifty kibitkas; and Ismailoff, changing his conduct and tone
suddenly, told him that he was a prisoner. Peter, without arms and
without friends, resigned himself to his fate almost without a word of
protest. He was led to one of the kibitkas, already occupied by two
strong officers armed to the teeth, and then all the kibitkas started
at once in as many different directions as there were roads leading to
Oranienbaum. This was done in order to deceive the spectators as to the
direction which Peter’s kibitka had taken. He was conveyed to Robzak, a
country villa near the village of Kraskazelo, a short distance from
Petersburg, but rather isolated and out of the way of the regular
traffic. Moreover precautions were taken to surround the villa with
soldiers. Peter was treated almost with cruelty in his solitary
confinement. He was not permitted to communicate with anybody, and his
friends were kept in profound ignorance as to his whereabouts. Many of
them believed that he was either at Peterhof or at Petersburg. He
addressed a pitiable letter to the Empress in which he humbly petitioned
her to send him his negro servant, with whom he liked to play, his
favorite dog, his violin, his Bible and a few novels. But the letter
remained unanswered, and none of the things asked for were sent.

In the forenoon of July seventeenth, Alexis Orloff, accompanied by
several officers, arrived at Robzak. They had an order from the Empress
admitting them to Peter’s presence. Orloff and an officer named
Tepelof--both men of herculean strength--entered the deposed Emperor’s
room, and found him in a despondent mood. They carried some
delicacies,--among them bottles of old Burgundy wine, which was
poisoned. They announced to Peter that his term of imprisonment would
soon be ended, and that he would then be permitted to return to
Holstein, his native country. Peter was overjoyed at this announcement,
and invited the officers, whom he treated as his guests, to take dinner
with him; they readily consented and produced the delicacies and the
wine they had brought. At the dinner-table Orloff presented a glass of
Burgundy to Peter, who swallowed it rapidly; but the wine was so
strongly poisoned that he felt the effect almost instantly. He jumped
from his chair, screaming and howling with pain. “I am poisoned! I am
poisoned!” he cried, “give me milk, give me oil!” The two assassins
terrified with what they had done sent for milk and oil, which he
swallowed eagerly. But after a few minutes they took courage again and
resolved to complete their murderous work. Peter’s cries had attracted
two or three officers, who entered the room; but instead of protecting
him, they assisted the conspirators. All at once Alexis Orloff rushed
upon Peter, who had thrown himself upon his bed, writhing in pain, and
tried to choke him. Peter himself was a man of herculean strength, and
defended himself with the courage of despair. The iron grasp of Orloff’s
fingers did not release his throat, and the Czar’s face became as black
as a negro’s. At last, by a terrible blow, he freed himself from Orloff,
but while he tried to take breath, the four or five assassins rushed
upon him all at the same time; they dragged him from the bed, and when
he fell into an arm-chair, they threw a large napkin round his neck and
strangled him until he was dead. He fell from the chair to the floor and
expired in a few minutes. A number of officers had witnessed the
terrible scene from a terrace which afforded a full view of the
prisoner’s room.

The admirers of Catherine have often denied her active participation in
the crime of Peter’s assassination; but they have never succeeded in
making the world believe in her innocence. In fact, how could she be
innocent, since the assassins were admitted to Peter’s presence upon a
direct order issued by her, with no other business for them to do than
to kill him? And then her conduct after the horrible crime had been
perpetrated is sufficient evidence of her guilt. She did not regret the
murder, and she rewarded the murderers. Even in the announcement of
Peter’s sudden death she manifested a brutality which defied decency and
common-sense. In a few words, without adding one word of sorrow at the
death of one who, as she asserted, was the father of her son, she
announced to the Russian people and to the foreign ambassadors at St.
Petersburg that the dethroned Czar Peter the Third, had suddenly died
from the effects of a hæmorrhoidal colic, to which he was subject, and
which had caused a stroke of apoplexy. This cool declaration was to
account for the horrible appearance of Peter’s countenance, which looked
almost black even in death, and which could not be concealed from the
people. It had always been customary to exhibit to the public the corpse
of a deceased Czar and to place him on a catafalque where the people
could see him and pay their respect to him. This public exhibition could
not be avoided without immensely strengthening the suspicion of foul
play; and Catherine boldly underwent the ordeal. The black hue of the
countenance could not be changed, but Peter’s neck was entirely covered
up with a very high and stiff stock, which concealed the finger-marks of
his assassins. Among the spectators was the old field-marshal, Prince
Trubetzkoi, well known for his rudeness and sincerity. He rapidly
stepped up to the bier, where Peter lay in state, and exclaimed in a
loud tone of voice: “Why, why, Peter Fedorowitch, what ridiculous kind
of necktie have they bundled around your neck? You never wore such a
thing in your life; why should you wear it now when you are dead?” And
he began to open the stock, and would have exposed Peter’s throat to
public view, if the guards, in spite of the high rank of the Prince, had
not forcibly dragged him away.

Unfortunately for the memory of Catherine the Second the assassination
of her husband was not the only assassination caused by her usurpation
of the Russian throne. It will be remembered that Peter had repeatedly
threatened to disown, and consequently to exclude from the succession,
Paul, the son whom Catherine had borne to him, and whom he openly
branded as a bastard, and to this threat he added the declaration that
he would name as his successor the young ex-Emperor Ivan the Sixth, who
had been dethroned by the Empress Elizabeth, and who was still
imprisoned at Schlüsselburg. This threat was fatal to the poor young
Prince, who during his long seclusion had become half-idiotic and had
lost the knowledge of his identity. But nevertheless the fear that he
might be used by her enemies as a legitimate pretender, with better
rights to the crown than her own, haunted Catherine’s mind, and she did
not rest until he had fallen a victim to the assassin’s dagger.

Strict orders had been issued to the commandant of the fortress of
Schlüsselburg that on the first attempt to liberate Ivan he should be
immediately put to death. And then a new infamy was committed which very
likely sprang from Catherine’s own diabolical genius. There was a young
and poor lieutenant named Mirowitch, in the garrison of Schlüsselburg
who was infatuated with admiration for the Empress and anxious to render
her a service. He was approached by one of his superior officers
(probably an Orloff) and his attention was directed to Ivan. “If he were
out of the way,” he was told, “the Empress would never forget it, and
would reward the service in an imperial manner.” Mirowitch took the hint
and resolved to merit the Empress’s gratitude by assassinating Ivan.
Under some pretext he really came to the door of the room in which Ivan
was kept a prisoner. Two officers were on guard there, but when they
heard Mirowitch’s voice demanding admittance and threatening to break
open the door, they rushed upon Ivan and put him to death. Then they
opened the door, and finding Mirowitch before them, they showed him
Ivan’s corpse and arrested him. Mirowitch was put on trial. The crime he
was charged with was an attempt to abduct the imprisoned Ivan and to
proclaim him Emperor of Russia. Mirowitch did not defend himself. He
only smiled. He knew who stood behind him and would protect him from
injury. He was found guilty and sentenced to be beheaded. He laughed at
the sentence and never lost courage. With a smile he ascended the
scaffold and looked around, wondering why the imperial messenger with
the pardon and the reward was not coming. The priest approached him and
prayed for him. He listened with little attention, and still a smile
hovered on his features. But suddenly the executioner took hold of him,
held him in his iron grasp, and threw him down. It was the last moment
and no messenger appeared yet; and then only Mirowitch realized his
terrible fate. With a scream of mad rage he commenced wrestling with the
executioner, and while uttering a cry of execration against Catherine,
his severed head rolled upon the scaffold. The assassination of two
czars--one of them her own husband--was the bloody price which Catherine
paid for the throne which she was to make great and renowned by a long
and glorious reign. How easily great crimes are forgotten if committed
by sovereigns of genius!



CHAPTER XVII

GUSTAVUS THE THIRD OF SWEDEN

[Illustration: GUSTAVUS III.]



CHAPTER XVII

ASSASSINATION OF GUSTAVUS THE THIRD OF SWEDEN

(March 17, 1792)


On the seventeenth of March, 1792, Gustavus the Third, King of Sweden,
was assassinated by Ankarström, a Swedish nobleman, and this crime
caused a sensation throughout Europe, although the horrors of the French
Revolution and the wholesale executions by the guillotine had made the
world familiar with murder and bloodshed. This assassination was of a
political character, and private revenge or other considerations had
nothing whatever to do with it. But in order to understand fully the
causes leading up to the tragedy, it will be necessary to refer to the
condition of public affairs in Sweden during the period preceding the
reign of Gustavus.

The continuous and costly wars of Charles the Twelfth had left Sweden in
a terrible state of exhaustion and misery. A number of her most valuable
provinces had been taken by Russia, and the domestic affairs of the
country, its finances, industry and commerce were utterly ruined.
Charles died during his invasion of Norway; it would really be more
proper to say “was assassinated”; for, on the evening of the eleventh of
December, 1718, while leaning against a parapet and looking at the
soldiers throwing up the breastworks, he was struck down by a bullet,
which could not have come from the enemy, in front of the fortress of
Frederickshall. In spite of the very severe winter weather, Charles had
insisted on laying siege to the strong fortress, and he paid for his
obstinacy with his life.

When the news of his death reached Sweden, the nobility took advantage
of it and of the unsettled question of the succession to the throne in
order to recover those privileges and rights which it had lost through
the genius and statesmanship of Charles the Eleventh, and which had not
been restored to it during the reign of Charles the Twelfth. The
Reichsrath was immediately reinstated in its old rights, and arrogated
to itself the power of deciding the succession according to its own will
and advantage. It coolly passed by the lawful heir, Charles Frederick of
Holstein-Gottorp, the son of Charles the Twelfth’s elder sister, and
elected Frederick of Hesse-Cassel, who had married Charles the Twelfth’s
younger sister; not, however, without having compelled the royal couple
to renounce, both for themselves and for their heirs, all absolute
power, and also to make a solemn promise that the Reichsrath should be
reinstated in all its former rights and prerogatives, which made that
Assembly actually co-regent of the kingdom. The Reichsrath was declared
sovereign; it had seventeen members, and each member had, in the
decision of public questions, one vote, and the King only two. It
decided all questions of domestic and foreign policy arbitrarily, and
controlled not only the legislative, but also the executive action of
the government. The King was a mere figure-head, poorly salaried and of
little influence. But this degradation of the crown was only one feature
of the oligarchy established by the Reichsrath. It restored to the
nobility all the domains and landed estates which had been appropriated
by the crown during the preceding century, exempted them from taxation,
conferred upon them the exclusive right of holding all the higher
offices in the army, navy and civil service, and heaped all public
burdens upon the lower classes of the people. The King, shorn of all
power, was utterly helpless to prevent these wrongs. His timid protests
were always met with a reminder that he had been elected to the throne
only after having promised to reinstate and not to disturb the nobility
in the enjoyment of their ancient rights. The Reichsrath also concluded
treaties of peace with the powers upon which Charles the Twelfth had
made war, and as the members negotiating these treaties looked out much
more for their own advantage than for that of their country, Sweden was
so badly crippled that it ceased being a great European power. That
honor passed from Sweden to two other countries which up to that time
had been considered Sweden’s inferiors in power and influence,--Russia
and Prussia.

It was not long before the Reichsrath, whose members sold themselves to
foreign rulers, was split up into different factions which fought
bitterly for supremacy. One of these factions favored France and was
regularly subsidized with French money, while the other faction was
equally well subsidized with Russian money and followed blindly the
dictates of the Czar and Czarina of Russia. The French faction was
called “the party of the hats,” and the Russian faction was known as
“the party of the caps.” These two factions fought each other most
bitterly, each charging the other with almost any crime committed
against divine and human law; and both were right in the charge, because
both were equally guilty. At the beginning of the war of the Austrian
succession, France wanted to prevent Russia from siding with Austria,
and thought a war between Sweden and Russia would be the right thing to
accomplish that object. The French Ambassador at Stockholm therefore
ordered the “party of the hats” in the Reichsrath to declare war upon
Russia, and a resolution to that effect prevailed against the violent
and menacing protests of the “party of the caps.” In great haste a
Swedish army was recruited to take the field against the Russians in
Finland; but since all the money sent by the French government for the
proper equipment of that army had disappeared in the pockets of the
members of the Reichsrath, the army was so poorly equipped and its
war-material was of such inferior quality that it could not hold the
field against the well-armed and well-equipped Russians, and suffered
defeat after defeat at their hands. The “caps” were jubilant over this
discomfiture and humiliation of the “hats” and forced them into a treaty
of peace with Russia, which was disgraceful to Sweden, but which would
have been even more hurtful if the Russian Empress had not for personal
reasons offered very mild terms of peace. But one of these terms was
that Adolphus Frederick of Holstein-Gottorp, whose father had been so
shamefully cheated out of the Swedish succession in 1718, should be
declared heir to the Swedish throne. The Reichsrath cheerfully accepted
this condition, made all other concessions which the Russian Empress
demanded, and ceded a part of Finland to the Russian crown. Peace
between the two countries was restored by the treaty of Abo in 1743.

Conditions were not improved under the rule of the next King,--the said
Adolphus Frederick of Holstein-Gottorp, who ascended the throne in 1751.
The new King had married the younger sister of Frederick the Great of
Prussia, but he had so little influence on the direction of the public
policy of Sweden, both at home and abroad, that in the great European
war which Frederick had to wage against the other powers, Sweden took
sides against him by the dictation of the Reichsrath. In fact, the
Reichsrath became more aggressive and arrogant from year to year. It
interfered in the education of the royal princes. It presumed to attach
the King’s signature to public documents after he had refused twice to
sign them. The “caps” made an effort to strengthen the King’s authority
by amending the constitution, but it failed, and resulted in a complete
victory for the “hats.” The “hats” had it all their own way for a while.
Under orders from the French government, and also out of hatred and
contempt for the King, they declared war on the King of Prussia, and
Sweden was, without any cause or provocation, drawn into the terrible
Seven Years’ War, which resulted in the victory of Frederick the Great
over all his enemies.

This disastrous result of the war caused the temporary overthrow of the
“hats.” But the Russian faction, as soon as they had got control of the
government, established a tyranny worse than that of their predecessors,
so that the King, provoked to the utmost, threatened to resign and
appeal to the people, unless a popular Diet should be called to
establish the rights of the crown on a firm and more dignified basis.
Under the strong pressure of public indignation the Diet was called; it
restored to the crown part of the rights and prerogatives annulled by
the Reichsrath and dismissed a number of those officials most hostile
and objectionable to the King; but a proposition of the young, ingenious
and ambitious Crown Prince--to change the constitution thoroughly, to
reëstablish autocratic government in Sweden in order to renew an era of
glory and prosperity for the unfortunate country--failed through the
irresoluteness of the King. In 1771 the King died, and the Crown Prince
ascended the throne under the name of Gustavus the Third.

The Crown Prince was at Paris, where he was paying the court a visit,
when his father died. His presence in the French capital and his
conversations with Choiseul, the able prime minister of Louis the
Fifteenth, had strengthened and confirmed his own personal views about
the necessity for a change in the government of Sweden and for a return
to an absolutistic régime. He formally renewed the secret alliance
between Sweden and France, receiving the promise of liberal subsidies
from the French treasury in order to enable him to carry out his plans.
He took with him to Sweden a large sum of money, which was, so to speak,
the first instalment of the new subsidy. Moreover, Choiseul gave the
young King, on his return trip to Sweden, an experienced and sagacious
companion and adviser in the person of Count de Vergennes, who nominally
was to take charge of the French embassy at Stockholm, but who in
reality was to guide and assist Gustavus in his attempt to overthrow the
constitution of the monarchy and to restore the absolute _régime_ of
former days. The personality of Gustavus the Third was peculiarly fitted
for the _rôle_ which he was to play in the great drama of a political
revolution. He was young, enthusiastic, talented, eloquent, bold and
chivalrous; he was a poet of considerable ability, and his political
ideal was Louis the Fourteenth of France, whose majestic declaration:
“The state? I am the state!” struck a sympathetic chord in his heart.
Choiseul had found it an easy task to change the vague aspirations and
dreams in the young King’s mind into a fixed determination to put an end
to the oligarchic _régime_ of the nobility and to reëstablish absolute
monarchy in its pristine glory. The art of dissimulation, of which he
was a consummate master, and which he had practised with great success
as Crown Prince in order to throw his instructors, who were mere tools
of the Reichsrath, off their guard, served him admirably in perfecting
the initiatory steps, and finally, when the proper time had come, for
the successful execution of his _coup d’état_.

When Gustavus arrived at Stockholm, he found the Swedish Reichstag (the
Diet) in session. It had recognized him, during his absence, as King,
but the members were busily engaged in the discussion of a new
constitution, which they insisted would be necessary for protecting the
rights of the nobility against the usurpation of the King. The rights of
the people and the prerogatives of the King were hardly thought of in
this discussion, and the people were disgusted with the whole
proceeding. So was the King, but he had shrewdness and self-control
enough not to interfere with the work of the Diet; and when, after a
hard-fought battle of eight months’ duration between the contending
factions of the “hats” and the “caps,” the new constitution was finally
completed and submitted to him for his signature, he readily signed it,
without reading it, explaining his extraordinary readiness with the
words “I have confidence enough in the patriotism and wisdom of the
Reichstag to believe that they all have worked for the welfare of the
state, and that my own rights were safe in their hands.”

In order to make this rather strange indifference on his part appear
quite natural, he had lived most of the time at his country-seat, at
some distance from Stockholm, surrounded by a few literary friends and
writing comedies and poems, without paying the least attention to the
political work going on at the capital. He came but rarely to Stockholm,
but whenever he went, he took good care to insinuate himself into the
good graces of the people. His natural eloquence and the fact that he
was born in Sweden and spoke the Swedish language correctly, as well as
his pleasant and affable manners, made him immensely popular with the
common people, while at the same time his friends lost no opportunity to
incite the people, and also the soldiery, against the nobility, whom
they charged with having caused all the miseries from which the State,
and especially the rural population, were suffering. Poor crops and
great financial distress added to the popular dissatisfaction, and the
royalist party did not fail to attribute these public calamities to the
aristocracy’s injudicious administration; thus the people were
thoroughly aroused for the impending battle between King and nobility.

In the Reichsrath the faction of the “caps” had succeeded in utterly
defeating the faction of the “hats,” and driving all their adherents out
of the public offices. The official slaughter and persecution of the
“hats” was carried on so recklessly and injudiciously by the “caps” that
even the Russian ambassador protested against their imprudence, which,
he was afraid, might lead to a revolution that would overthrow both
factions and place absolute power in the hands of the monarch. But the
“caps,” in the intoxication of their victory, were too blind to see the
danger; moreover, they felt absolutely safe because the King had sworn
to obey and uphold the constitution, and the constitution deprived him
of all power of action. Gustavus had so fully duped them that not even a
suspicion of foul play arose in their minds. With masterly dissimulation
and with marvellous strength of mind he waited in apparent indifference
until the proper moment for action had come. His friends, however, had
been very busy. They had won one hundred and fifty of the higher
officers of the Stockholm garrison over to the King’s cause, and this
acquisition placed practically the entire military power of the capital
under his orders.

It had been arranged, however, that the first outbreak should not occur
at Stockholm, but in another city. In compliance with this programme
Captain Hellichius, a devoted friend of the King, and Commandant of the
garrison of Christianstadt, on the twelfth of August, 1772, issued a
manifesto, in which he fiercely denounced the pernicious administration
of the Reichsrath, and called upon the inhabitants of Sweden to shake
off the tyranny of the oligarchy which held both the King and the people
in bondage. It had also been arranged that Prince Charles, the King’s
brother, Commander of the troops in Scania, should immediately march,
with the army under his command, toward Christianstadt, ostensibly for
the purpose of suppressing the revolt, but really for the purpose of
swelling the ranks of the malcontents. When this news reached Stockholm,
some of the members of the Reichsrath suspected that the King was
implicated, but he feigned absolute ignorance of the matter, and
deceived his enemies so well that they left him alone. Prompt action on
their part, in arresting and guarding the person of the King, would very
likely have quelled the revolt at the very outset. But the King was so
powerless that he preferred to wait for news from Christianstadt
announcing the success of the movement before resorting to active
measures which might have caused the failure of the whole plan.

Only when the Reichsrath ordered the troops of the whole country to be
concentrated at the capital, and also ordered Prince Charles to turn
over his command to a general who was strictly in sympathy with the
existing condition of things, the King thought the time for him to act
had come, and he hesitated no longer. It was the nineteenth of August,
1772, and Gustavus knew that that day was to decide not only the success
or failure of his intended _coup d’état_, but very likely also his life
or death, his honor or disgrace. In taking the offensive so promptly,
the King showed great personal bravery and courage, and made good his
claim to be a God-given leader of men. At an early hour he went to the
Assembly Room, where the Reichsrath was already in session. At a glance
he saw that the prevailing sentiment was hostile to him. No sooner had
he taken his seat than one of the members in a rather insolent tone
asked him whether he had not received a letter during the night from
Christianstadt, and on receiving an affirmative answer, demanded that
the King should communicate the letter to the Reichsrath. The King
refused to deliver the letter, stating that it was private, and
expressed indignation at the disrespectful request. A general murmur
arose among the members, and voices were heard saying that it might be
advisable to arrest the King. He hurriedly arose from his seat, and
placing his hand on the hilt of his sword, as if ready to kill the first
one who should stand in his way, he passed through the seats of the
Senators with head erect and haughty mien.

None dared oppose him, and he proceeded directly to the armory, where
two regiments of the Royal Guard were drawn up in line under the command
of officers devoted to him. He addressed them in an eloquent speech,
promising to restore the kingdom to its previous proud position among
the nations and make the army again a source of honor to the Swedes and
of terror to its enemies, such as it had been in the great days of
Gustavus Adolphus. The officers and the men cheered him
enthusiastically, and declared they would follow him to death or
wherever he would lead them. Not only the soldiers in the city, but
thousands of armed citizens gathered around him shouting, “Down with the
nobility! Down with the Reichsrath! Long live the King!” He mounted his
horse and at the head of this enthusiastic army proceeded to the State
House, where the Reichsrath was still in session, devising means to
bring the King to terms. The troops were so placed as to make it
impossible for the members of the Reichsrath to leave the building. The
King, flushed with the excitement of victory, with his flashing sword
drawn, and surrounded by a few of the most popular officers and
citizens, rode through the streets, harangued the people on the public
squares, and carried them away by his eloquence and chivalrous
appearance. It was a personal triumph, which he relished to its fullest
extent, and which gave assurance of the complete success of his plans
for constitutional reform.

The revolution which Gustavus the Third had inaugurated so boldly at
Stockholm proved a complete success. The common people flocked to him in
great numbers; the women and girls offered him flowers and bouquets, and
threw kisses to him; the men knelt down and, with tears of joy in their
eyes, kissed his boots or his hands, blessing him as the savior of his
country, and calling the blessings of Heaven down upon his head.
Surrounded by thousands of enthusiastic adherents, he rode to the City
Hall, where the municipal authorities were already assembled, and
received from them the assurance of their unconditional allegiance and
loyalty. The same ovation and enthusiastic demonstration greeted him at
the palace of the Board of Admiralty. Not a shot was fired, not a sword
was drawn, not a drop of human blood was shed to overcome opposition to
the royal plan of changing the government and to end the rule of the
nobility. Never before in history had a revolution been so quickly, so
successfully accomplished; never before had a government in the full
possession of all public powers been so suddenly and so successfully
overthrown as in this instance. The _coup d’état_ was a masterstroke of
public policy which gave Gustavus a wonderful prestige throughout
Europe. Even the English and Russian ambassadors, who were most
interested in the contemplated change of government, and who might have
raised obstacles to the King’s autocratic action, were disarmed entirely
by a courteous invitation to the royal palace, where they were
entertained in the most pleasant manner until the whole excitement was
over and Gustavus the Third in complete possession of the government. On
the day following, the war department and all the high state officials
made haste to swear obedience to the King. The citizens of the capital
were called together on the public square and the King addressed them
again, this time in the full splendor of triumphant royalty and
surrounded by all the high dignitaries of the kingdom, telling them,
amid their enthusiastic shouts and applause, that he considered it his
greatest glory to be the first citizen of a free nation. He then took
out of his pocket the new constitution prepared by him and read it to
them in his clear and melodious voice. Renewed shouts and boisterous
applause rewarded him when he had concluded.

But the part most difficult for him remained to be done,--to get the
assent of the States. They were convened for the next day, August 21,
and in ordering them to appear, the King had added that any member not
appearing in his seat on that day would be treated as a traitor. During
the night preceding the meeting of the States a strong detachment of
soldiers and artillery was placed in a position commanding the State
House. When the King appeared and sat down on the throne his eye looked
upon a hall well filled. The most profound silence reigned when he got
up and read the constitution in a clear and firm voice. He supplemented
the reading with a very eloquent and patriotic speech, in which he
referred to the degradation and contempt to which the monarchy had been
reduced by the incapacity, venality and corruption of the government and
of the nobility. He painted this government and the disgrace it had
brought upon Sweden in the darkest colors, and then added, in a voice
trembling with emotion: “If there is any one among you who thinks that I
am misstating facts or exaggerating the disgraceful condition of our
public affairs, I challenge him to contradict me, and to state here in
the presence of all in what respect I have misrepresented the
administration of the Reichsrath. I vow to God Almighty that I shall
devote all my energy to the task of restoring the welfare of my beloved
country and the happiness of its inhabitants, and I know of no other way
to accomplish these results than by the change of the constitution as I
have read it to you.” Then turning to the members individually, he asked
whether they were in favor of sanctioning the proposed change. They all
answered in the affirmative and swore the oath of allegiance. Thereupon
the King drew from his pocket a hymn-book, and removing the crown from
his head, he began to sing the “Te Deum Laudamus,” in which they all
joined him. Gustavus had won again in the most perilous stage of the
dangerous game he was playing.

The new constitution which had been adopted reinstated the King in all
those rights and prerogatives which his ancestors had possessed up to
the death of Charles the Twelfth. He was the commander of the army and
navy; the revenues of the state were to be under his exclusive care; he
disposed arbitrarily of all offices, civil and military; he alone had
the right to negotiate treaties and alliances; he had unlimited power to
conduct a war of defence, but for foreign wars he needed the consent of
the States; he alone had the right to convene the Congress, and the
Congress was not to transact other business than was submitted to it by
the crown; the Reichsrath was subordinate to the King; it became merely
an advisory board, and its decisions were not of binding force. It was a
constitution which the Emperor of Russia might have subscribed to.

While Gustavus had, by his boldness and eloquence, secured the success
of his _coup d’état_ at Stockholm, his brothers travelled through the
different provinces, promulgated the new constitution, and were
everywhere welcomed enthusiastically. Gustavus himself made during the
winter months of the same year the traditional tour of the old kings
through the kingdom even to the farthest borders of Norway--the old
riksgata--and exactly in the same manner as the old kings had done--on
horseback. Wherever he went he was only escorted by the inhabitants of
the neighborhood, whom he delighted by his affability, his nobility of
soul and his eloquence. He seemed to have no enemies and needed no
soldiers to protect him. These were the golden days of his reign. The
two parties which had so bitterly fought for supremacy had been wiped
out by his victory. The “hats” and the “caps” were heard of no more, and
Sweden seemed to be in a fair way of entering upon a new era of
greatness and prosperity.

Tempting as the task may be for the historian to go into the details of
the life of the extraordinary man who, endowed by nature with talents of
a high order, rose to the heights of human glory and then abruptly fell
by reason of his own folly, we must forego this pleasure and confine
ourselves to a rapid sketch of the events which led Gustavus the Third
slowly to the terrible tragedy of his assassination. It would seem
almost incredible that a prince so popular and so idolized by his people
as Gustavus was on the morning of his _coup d’état_ could in the course
of a few years so utterly lose the confidence of his people and forfeit
their love as to make the execution of the conspiracy against his life
even possible. But it must be admitted that this loss of popularity and
esteem was, in part at least, caused by grave faults of the King, which,
with reckless audacity, he committed again and again, while the general
loss of royal prestige and authority throughout Europe as a consequence
of the French Revolution of 1789 had also a great deal to do with it.

During the first years after the _coup d’état_ general satisfaction
seemed to prevail throughout the country; the common people felt
relieved of many unnecessary burdens, while the nobility, who had been
so utterly routed, kept silent in the consciousness of their weakness.
Many measures of reform, calculated to promote the national prosperity,
were initiated by the personal agency of the King. The currency, which
was in a deplorable condition, was put on a sounder basis; many
benevolent institutions--hospitals, orphan asylums, poor-houses,
etc.--were established; the public highways were improved; large canals
connecting with the seacoast the mines of the kingdom (which were among
its most important industries) were constructed; trade and industry were
assisted according to the prevailing theories of those times; free
trade, both at home and with foreign countries, was established;
privileges and franchises which oppressed the people at large for the
benefit of the few were abolished; both the criminal and the civil code
of laws were revised and improved; strict impartiality in the
application of laws and in the punishment of criminals was insisted
upon; the torture, which up to that time had played an important part in
criminal trials, was done away with, and a more humane treatment of
convicts was introduced in prisons and penitentiaries. Gustavus was in
this respect a disciple of Montesquieu and Beccaria. His great ambition
was also to renew the ties of friendship and brotherhood between Finland
and Sweden, and in order to do so, he personally visited Finland, and
established there a number of valuable reforms which are gratefully
remembered by that unfortunate country to the present day.

But highly commendable and worthy of admiration as the young King’s
action was in these and many other respects, the defects of his
character soon appeared, and gave his enemies an opportunity to
undermine his work and his popularity. He lacked steadiness and firmness
of purpose. He wanted to see and enjoy immediately the beneficent
results of his reforms. Many of them were therefore abandoned before
they had had time for full development; many very costly undertakings
were discontinued because the King had either changed his mind or was
tired of waiting. And then, he was extravagant in his personal expenses
and in arranging grand court entertainments fashioned on the brilliant
festivities of the French court at Versailles, which remained his model
in all matters of court etiquette and royal display. Like Frederick the
Great, to whom Gustavus the Third bears in many respects a striking
resemblance, although he lacked the great Prussian’s military genius and
wise frugality, he was fond of French literature and art, and made
strenuous efforts to give them a supreme place in the educational
institutions of the kingdom. The national genius of the Swedish people
and language were consequently relegated to a secondary place. To make
up for the unpopularity and protests which these efforts caused among
the people, he devised a national costume for all the inhabitants; but
in this attempt he failed entirely. The costume he had devised was
copied from an ancient Spanish one, and utterly unsuitable for a
northern country of short summers and severe winters. The King’s
ordinances introducing these Spanish garments were openly disobeyed and
laughed at. People began to look on him as a dreamer, and lost their
respect for him.

But that which more than anything else hurt his popularity was the way
in which he treated the liquor question. The mass of the Swedish people
were strongly addicted to the excessive use of intoxicating liquors. The
vice had assumed such proportions that measures of reform were urgently
called for. But, with the usual impracticability of temperance
reformers, Gustavus managed the matter so unskilfully that, instead of
correcting the abuse, he made himself highly unpopular and aroused the
most stubborn resistance to his reform policy. He had issued an edict
prohibiting the manufacture and use of distilled liquors, but he found
it impossible to enforce the edict: the peasants and farmers, who had
been distilling their own whiskey, simply ignored it, while in a number
of cities where distilleries were maintained for the manufacture and
sale of the liquor, regular battles were fought between the police
trying to suppress them, and the inhabitants enraged at the attempt to
close them. Gustavus then repealed the edict and introduced a new
system, which he hoped would at once diminish the vice of drunkenness
and replenish his treasury, which was in a chronic state of exhaustion.
He made the right of manufacturing and selling alcoholic liquors a crown
monopoly, and established agencies for the sale of these liquors in all
large and small cities and towns of the kingdom. But the peasants were
not satisfied with this arrangement either. The whiskey they were to buy
at the agencies was much dearer than their own home-distilled beverage;
moreover, the towns and cities, at that time only thinly scattered over
Sweden, were often so remote from the farms, and the roads leading to
them were often in such an impassable condition that the purchase of
whiskey was a difficult matter for the rural population. The clandestine
and illicit manufacture of the beverage was carried on therefore as it
had been before. But the very name of the King became odious to the
people. They contemptuously called him “a crank, a visionary and a
poet.” Writing poetry, in which Gustavus excelled, was in their eyes a
symptom of folly and madness.

The hostility of the nobles and their rebellious spirit, which had been
overawed and silenced for some years by the great personal popularity of
the King, reappeared and gained ground with the disaffection of the
people, and especially of the rural population. For a King like Gustavus
the Third, ambitious and high-spirited, military glory had a tempting
attraction, and he had commenced soon after his successful _coup d’état_
to prepare for winning it. The army was in a really deplorable condition
at the time of his accession to the throne, being entirely without
artillery and deficient in equipment. Gustavus lost no time in remedying
these defects. He modelled the Swedish army after the Prussian army as
reorganized by Frederick the Great, which was then considered the finest
and best equipped in Europe, and within two years he had made it, with
its splendid personnel and its modern material, a formidable machine of
war, which, under the leadership of a military genius, might have
renewed the great days of Gustavus Adolphus or Charles the Twelfth. But
it was the ambition of Gustavus the Third to command the army himself,
and he was not a military genius. He declared war upon Russia, with the
intention of recovering the lost provinces of Finland, and proceeded to
Finland himself in order to take command of the invading army.

It was there that the first misfortune overtook him. After a few
engagements,--rather skirmishes than battles,--in which the Swedes were
victorious, the King decided to invest or take by assault the small
fortress of Frederickshamm. It would have been better for him if he had
marched directly upon Petersburg, which was not in a condition to resist
an immediate attack of a superior army. If he had done so, very likely
the Esths, first cousins of the Finns, and anxious to shake off the yoke
of Russia, would have joined him and would have placed him in possession
of the Russian borderland; but Gustavus frittered away the time and by
his inactivity enabled the commanders of his own regiments (generally
appointed from the ranks of the high nobility) to organize a conspiracy
against him and virtually drive him from the field. Very likely bribed
with Russian gold, they jointly issued a manifesto that Gustavus had
violated the constitution of Sweden by declaring war upon Russia
without the consent of the Reichsrath, and they were therefore not bound
to obey him in this criminal undertaking. They also used their influence
on the other officers and on the soldiers of their regiments, and made
them rebellious against the King’s commands. In vain Gustavus implored
them not to abandon him and the cause of their country; but they were
deaf to his prayers and to his threats, and he left the army as a
humiliated and disgraced commander.

Upon his return to Stockholm, he made a journey through Dalecarlia, the
province in which his ancestor Gustavus Vasa had found the followers who
raised him to the throne; he used his extraordinary eloquence so
successfully that the people again rallied round him. They swore to
stand by him in his struggle against Russia, and not to lay down arms
until a peace honorable to Sweden could be secured. Gustavus then
convened the Reichstag for the twenty-sixth of January, 1789, in order
to get authority to continue the war and restore his kingly
prerogatives, which by the revolt of the army had been so signally
impaired. The nobility at last openly threw off the mask; but they were
overpowered by the three other estates, who would rather strengthen the
King’s authority than return to their former condition of bondage under
the _régime_ of a corrupt and arrogant nobility. The Reichstag therefore
fully sustained the King’s action, taking the view that the offensive
war against Russia was really a war of defence.

Sufficient appropriations were made to carry on the war to a successful
end, and thirty prominent members of the nobility were indicted for
treason and _lèse majesté_, and punished severely. At the same time an
important revision of the constitution was made in the interest of the
King, and, in spite of the violent protests of the nobility, his
prerogatives were largely extended. The Reichsrath was entirely
abolished, and the King authorized to declare war on other countries
whenever war was deemed advisable to protect the interests of the
country. He also obtained the absolute right to appoint all military and
civil officers, while formerly many of these appointments had to be
confirmed by the Reichsrath. After having thus secured the rights of the
crown at home, Gustavus departed again for the seat of war, with new
regiments and new commanders. Russia had also strengthened herself, and
what might at first have been an easy undertaking, and might have led to
a brilliant success, was now a very serious one, and one of very
uncertain chances of success. It soon became evident that the results of
the war would depend on the naval supremacy of either of the two powers,
and all efforts were therefore directed on both sides toward
strengthening their navies.

Several big naval battles were fought, and in all of them the King, who
personally commanded his fleet, performed wonders of valor. The last of
these battles was that of Swenskasund on the ninth of July, 1790; and
the King, who fought with the bravery of despair because the fleet of
the Russians was considerably superior in numbers to his own, won a
brilliant victory. No less than fifty-nine Russian warships, carrying
altogether six hundred and forty-three guns, fell into the hands of the
Swedes. But even more than this great material success was the prestige
which Gustavus derived from the victory. He was tired of the war, and
he could now as a victorious hero offer terms of peace, honorable and
advantageous to his country, instead of humbly accepting terms from
Russia. On the fourteenth of August, 1790, a treaty of peace was
concluded by which, while Sweden did not receive any territorial
indemnity, she secured rights and trade privileges in the Baltic Sea
which Russia until then had denied her. The honors of the war were
therefore on Sweden’s side, and the King personally, for his
unquestioned heroism, was entitled to a liberal share of them.

On the other hand, the results of the war were disastrous for the
country, and the King was by his enemies, the nobility (who were more
bitterly opposed to him than ever), held responsible for these
disasters. The heavy expenditures for the war had necessitated
extraordinary tax levies which were burdensome to the whole people, rich
as well as poor, and these could not be abolished immediately on the
termination of the war. The brilliant festivities, balls and
entertainments, which greeted the King on his return to his capital,
could not fully conceal the great distress and poverty of the people;
but with that levity which was a conspicuous feature of his character
and which gave him such a mental resemblance to Marie Antoinette, whom
he greatly admired, he tried to forget in the intoxication of incessant
amusements and pleasures the personal privations he had suffered during
the war and the sorrows and wants of the nation. That this conduct,
which he did not care to conceal from the public eye, irritated the
people and filled many of those who hail been his admirers with disgust
and hatred may easily be imagined. But that by which he gave the
greatest blow to his popularity was his active and over-zealous
sympathy in the misfortunes of Louis the Sixteenth and his Queen, Marie
Antoinette, and his efforts to release them from captivity and save them
from death.

Gustavus showed his lack of political sagacity in estranging the very
element upon which he had founded his autocratic power,--the great mass
of the people. Their devotion had made it possible for him, not only to
continue the war against Russia, but also to be more than a mere
figure-head in the government of his kingdom. The support of the
nobility he had lost beyond redemption. They hated him, and only hoped
for opportunities to humiliate him. All efforts on his part to reconcile
them failed. His true policy should have been to ingratiate himself
still more with the people, relieve their burdens, make the laws and
institutions more liberal, and carry out the promise he had made to
them, that he wanted to be clothed with supreme power in order to make
the nation more happy and the country more prosperous. But his character
did not permit him to pursue this policy dictated by common-sense. The
French Revolution had broken out, and the misfortunes of the French King
and Queen enlisted his profound sympathy. He watched the progress of the
revolution with eager interest, and when it became apparent that Louis
could not master it, he formed the adventurous and fantastic plan of
placing himself at the head of a large army, composed of contingents of
all the European powers, and restoring absolute monarchy in France, as
he had restored absolute monarchy in Sweden. In order to realize that
dream which corresponded so well to his visionary, chivalrous, poetical
temperament, he opened negotiations with Russia, Prussia, Austria, and
especially with the French _émigrés_. These men had assembled in Germany
and other countries waiting for an opportunity to return to France under
the standards of some friendly power coming to the rescue of Louis the
Sixteenth and monarchical institutions. Gustavus had tried his best to
assist the French King in his flight from Paris. It was a Swedish
carriage, with Swedish attendants, which was to convey Louis the
Sixteenth and the royal family beyond the borders of France, and which
was so abruptly stopped at Varennes. After this attempt at flight had
failed, Gustavus saw no other means of saving the monarchy--not only in
France, but throughout Europe--than by making war upon the Jacobins,
stamping out the Revolution in the blood of its adherents, and seating
Louis the Sixteenth in the full glory of absolutism once more on the
throne. The execution of this plan, he imagined, would immortalize him,
and would make him in effect the dictator of Europe.

The Reichstag of Gefle, which was opened January 25, 1792, had already
greatly disappointed and incensed him, because it had unanimously
rejected his demand for an appropriation of ten million dollars which he
needed for his new undertaking. The utter disregard of his wishes and
the contempt with which his urgent appeals were ignored by the lower
order, which had so firmly stood by him in the Reichstag of 1789, showed
also his great unpopularity; and the nobility thought that the time had
come for striking a bold blow not only to get rid of him, but also to
reinstate themselves in power. As we have seen, the moment was very
opportune. The public debt was enormous; the distress was general; vague
rumors of another war, not against an enemy, but against the rights of
the people, were in the air. Then the conspiracy was formed. There were
five principal conspirators; and they all belonged to the highest
nobility. While some of them had personal grievances, not one of them
would have thought of raising his hand against the King, unless a much
more important object had been in view. These five were Ankarström, who
had already been among the rebellious officers in Finland, Count
Ribbing, Count Horn, Count Liliehorn and Baron Pechlin.

The mainspring of the conspiracy was the hope of overthrowing the
autocratic system of government, and reinstating the nobility in all its
prerogatives. At first the conspirators did not want to resort to
murder, but they hoped to be able to abduct the King, compel him to
resign, and then to extort from his successor the recognition of those
rights and privileges of which Gustavus the Third had deprived them.
Having made two or three attempts in that direction, they changed their
plan, and concluded that the easiest and safest way to accomplish their
aim would be to assassinate the King.

Ankarström volunteered to shoot the King at one of the popular masked
balls, which he was in the habit of visiting, and at which he freely
mingled with the other visitors. Twice he failed to recognize Gustavus.
But the last masquerade of the season at Stockholm was to come off on
Friday, March 16, 1792, and Ankarström resolved to make a last effort to
strike his victim. And he did, although Gustavus was warned that very
evening by one of the conspirators (Count Liliehorn) that it would be
dangerous for him to go to the ball, for an attempt would be made on his
life. The ball was to come off at the Grand Opera House, and an immense
crowd was expected. Four of the conspirators--Pechlin, Ankarström, Horn
and Ribbing--took supper together, and afterwards went to the theatre.
They wore black dominoes of a uniform pattern, to be able to recognize
each other easily. On the other hand, Gustavus had taken supper with one
of his closest friends, Count Essen, in a little private room arranged
for his use at the theatre itself. During this supper, at ten o’clock in
the evening, an anonymous letter was handed to him, written in French
and with a lead pencil. The author revealed the whole plot, which, as he
asserted, he had learned only during the afternoon. He implored the King
not to go to the ball, and to change his conduct and his policy if he
wanted to escape assassination. He confessed having opposed the King’s
autocratic measures and his _coup d’état_, which he considered illegal
and unconstitutional. But, being a man of honor, as he said, the very
idea of murder was horrid to him, and he therefore again implored the
King to keep away from the ball. This note came from Count Liliehorn.
Gustavus read it twice very attentively; but he did not say a word about
its contents. He quietly completed his supper and then, accompanied by
Count Essen, he proceeded to his box, where he was plainly to be seen by
all. It was then only that he showed the note to his companion, who also
implored him not to go on the floor among the dancers. Gustavus said he
would hereafter put on a coat of mail before going to such places of
amusement, but he insisted on going on the floor. They thereupon left
the box, put on light dominoes and descended to the floor, which was
crowded with a throng of brilliant, gay and grotesque masks.

The King had taken Essen’s arm, and while passing through the stage
scenery said to him: “Now let us see whether they’ll dare attack me!”
Although he wore a face-mask, the dancers whispered to each other:
“There is the King!” Gustavus made the tour of the ball-room without
stopping; then he stepped into the green-room in order to rest a moment;
but on leaving, he found himself surrounded by a group of black
dominoes, one of whom (it was Count Horn) laid his hand on the King’s
shoulder, saying: “Good-evening, my beautiful masquerader!” These words
were the signal. At the same moment Ankarström fired a shot from his
pistol, which had been wrapped up in raw wool in order to weaken the
detonation, and the shot was heard by but a few persons. Gustavus
exclaimed in a loud voice: “I am wounded! Arrest the assassin!” At the
same time loud cries: “Fire! Fire! Leave the hall!” resounded from
different parts of the building, and a great confusion followed. In the
panic there was a general rush toward the doors, and all the
conspirators would have escaped, but for the presence of mind of Count
Armfeld, who ordered the doors to be closed, and assuring the tumultuous
crowd that there was no fire, but that a great crime had been committed,
ordered all the dancers and visitors to take off their masks. The
conspirators nevertheless managed to escape immediate discovery by their
very audacity, although they attracted attention and suspicion. As he
passed through the door, Ankarström with a haughty smile said to the
officer: “I hope you do not suspect me?” “On the contrary,” replied the
officer, “I am sure you are the assassin!” but before he could stop him,
Ankarström had passed out. He was, however, arrested the next morning,
and also Liliehorn, who had sent the anonymous note to the King. Counts
Horn and Ribbing were arrested a few days later, and Baron Pechlin some
time afterwards.

Gustavus the Third was the only one who had kept his presence of mind
during the tremendous confusion. Essen, covered with the King’s blood,
had rather carried than conducted him first to one of the private boxes
and thence to a small adjoining parlor with a sofa, where he could lie
down. The King was the one who directed what measures were to be taken
in the grave situation. He ordered the gates of the city to be closed
and the Duke of Sodermanland to be sent for. As soon as the surgeons had
applied the necessary bandages, he was conveyed to the royal palace, and
issued, with perfect self-command, orders for the appointment of those
officials who during his illness should conduct the affairs of the
kingdom. The King himself ascribed the assault to the influence of the
Jacobins of Paris, and the murderers eagerly circulated this rumor, in
order to mislead public opinion. However, after Ankarström had been
arrested and made a confession, there could no longer be any doubt as to
the motives which were at the bottom of the conspiracy. Public opinion
took the cue immediately.

From the very moment of the assassination the people of Stockholm seemed
to be delirious with grief. During the thirteen days of his agony all
the King’s mistakes and faults, which quite recently had been magnified
into crimes and atrocities, were forgotten; there was but one voice of
sympathy and affection for him and of condemnation for his assassins.
All the good and chivalrous qualities of Gustavus reappeared during the
illness preceding his death. When the public indignation threatened the
families of the conspirators, he immediately began to plead eloquently
for them and wished them to be protected. When delegations of the
municipalities of Stockholm and other cities were admitted to his
presence to assure him of the unfaltering loyalty of their cities to him
and the royal family, he shed tears of gratitude, and told them that
such proofs of loyalty were not too dearly purchased at the price of a
serious and possibly fatal wound. When old Count Brahe, one of the
leaders of the opposition in the Reichstag, knelt down at his bedside
and swore to him that he was a stranger to the conspiracy and condemned
it with horror, Gustavus raised him to his feet and embraced him, weak
as he was, and told him with tearful eyes that he blessed his wound,
because it had reconciled him with a friend so valued and noble-hearted.
When his brother showed him a list of all those who had been ferreted
out as accessories to the crime, he refused to look at it, and implored
his brother to destroy it so that no further bloodshed might result.
When some one in his presence swore bloody vengeance on the
conspirators, he interfered in their behalf, adding: “If Ankarström is
to die, then let there be mercy at least for the others! One victim is
enough!” At first it looked as though he would get well. His
conversation, fluent and logical, at times even brilliant and eloquent,
was taken as proof that his vitality had not been exhausted, and that
his excellent constitution would carry him safely through this terrible
ordeal. But late on the twelfth day after the assault, he grew worse,
and began to sink rapidly. The change came so suddenly that even the
physicians were surprised, and suspected foul play. But nothing has
ever come to light to give confirmation to that suspicion.

Thus ended, most sadly and prematurely, one of the most brilliant
careers of the eighteenth century,--that of a man of splendid
attainments, who lacked perhaps depth, and certainly application, to
become one of the greatest men of his age and century; a man of noble,
chivalrous character, who had placed his ideals of human greatness
unfortunately in the splendid and brilliant outside of things instead of
their solid, substantial and imperishable worth.



CHAPTER XVIII

JEAN PAUL MARAT

[Illustration: JEAN PAUL MARAT]



CHAPTER XVIII

ASSASSINATION OF JEAN PAUL MARAT

(July 13, 1793)


IN the letter of farewell which Charlotte Corday, from her prison cell
as a doomed murderess, addressed to her father, she used the phrase (the
French words are a well-known verse from a famous tragedy):

    “’Tis not the scaffold, but the crime, that brings disgrace”;

for she still adhered to the belief that in killing Marat she had not
committed a crime, but an act of patriotic devotion for which posterity
would honor her, and history would place her name among the benefactors
of mankind. In this belief she was more than half right, for in the long
list of political crimes and assassinations there is not one which has
been so willingly condoned by the world, so eloquently defended by
historians, so enthusiastically immortalized by poets, and so leniently
criticised even by moralists as that of Charlotte Corday. In her defence
the law of heredity has been invoked, for it has been maintained that
Charlotte Corday, who was a great-grandniece of the great Corneille, had
inherited those sublime patriotic and republican sentiments which the
great tragic poet so often and so eloquently expresses in his dramatic
poems. In fact everything has been done to surround her crime with the
halo of martyrdom, and to secure for her the glory of a national
heroine.

It was in the middle of the year 1793. The French Revolution had reached
that turning-point when the Revolutionists had almost exhausted their
fury against the Royalists, and engaged in factional fights among
themselves, always ending in the execution of the members of the
vanquished party. The National Assembly--transformed into the National
Convention--was under the absolute control of the Jacobins, and Marat,
Danton and Robespierre were the absolute rulers of Paris and
consequently of France. The King had been guillotined, the Queen and the
other members of the royal family were imprisoned, and their execution
was only a question of time. An insane craving for blood seemed to have
taken possession of the men who were guiding the destinies of France.
Danton, by far the most gifted of these Jacobins, had forever sullied
his name as the author of the “September Massacres”; but far more odious
was Marat, “the friend of the people,” the blood-thirsty demon of the
Revolution, who quite seriously demanded, in the paper of which he was
the editor and publisher, that two hundred thousand persons should be
guillotined to purify the aristocratic atmosphere of France.

The powerful party of the Girondists, who were distinguished by a
certain degree of moderation and had been a sort of counterpoise in the
Convention to the Jacobins, had not only been defeated, but had been
actually driven out of the Convention and been branded as traitors and
enemies to the Republic. With Marat, Robespierre and Danton in the
absolute and unrestrained possession of power, the destruction and
execution of the Girondists was therefore only a question of time,--of
months, weeks, perhaps only of days,--and most of them fled from Paris,
seeking refuge in those parts of France which were known to be strongly
attached to the moderate views of the defeated party. Normandy was one
of these provinces, and in its ancient towns and villages quite a number
of the proscribed leaders of the Girondist party--Buzot, Pétion,
Barbaroux, Louvet and others--appeared with the outspoken intention of
arousing the population and inducing them to march against Paris. There
had been great excitement before their arrival. The enemies of the
Terrorists were in a large majority, and had been active in organizing,
equipping, and drilling an army, and General Wimpfen, the commandant at
Cherbourg, was bold and imprudent enough to announce that he would march
upon Paris with an army of sixty thousand men.

At that time there lived at Caen in Normandy a young girl of noble
descent, very beautiful and ingenious, but poor. Her name was Charlotte
Corday, or rather Marie Anna Charlotte Corday; she lived at Caen in the
house of her aunt, Madame de Bretteville. Charlotte was the daughter of
Monsieur de Corday d’Armans, and a great-grandniece of Pierre Corneille,
the greatest of the tragic poets of France. The statement that she was
the great-granddaughter of the poet is erroneous. She was the
great-granddaughter of Marie Corneille, the only sister of Pierre
Corneille, whose daughter married Adrian Corday, Baron of Cauvigny. This
lineage makes the claim of heredity for Charlotte’s sublime character,
which is so often insisted on, rather fanciful, especially since no
other members of the great poet’s family have manifested these
characteristics. Charlotte had a sister and two brothers, who had left
their father’s house after he married his second wife. Her two brothers
went to Germany to take service in the army of the Prince of Condé in
his campaign against the French Revolutionists.

Charlotte had been placed in a convent at Caen when only twelve years of
age, and being naturally contemplative, the retirement and silence of
the convent made her even more so. She abandoned herself entirely to
those vague dreams and exaltations which so often fill the minds and
souls of young girls on the threshold of womanhood. Especially the
proud, exalted, grandiose heroines, whom her great-granduncle had
immortalized in his tragedies, Cinna, Horace, Polyeucte, Le Cid, made a
profound impression upon her, and she learned the most beautiful
passages by heart. Her very education seemed to prepare her for the
great historic _rôle_ which she was to play some ten or twelve years
later. At the age of seventeen or eighteen she left the convent and was
kindly received in the house of Madame de Bretteville. Her mind was
filled with the exalted sentiments of Corneille and Plutarch, whom she
read and reread with great delight. Her soul was restless at the sight
of the increasing agitation against the corruption of the aristocratic
classes and of the profound misery and degradation of the poor. The
house of Madame de Bretteville was one of those sombre, sad-looking,
narrow residences which are still found occasionally in the silent and
sleepy streets of old Norman towns, and well adapted to the stern and
dreamy character of Charlotte. In the rear of the house there was a
garden, surrounded by high walls, and this garden became the favorite
spot of Charlotte in her readings and studies. Her extraordinary beauty,
which consisted as much in the classical cast of her features, her
dazzling complexion, her magnificent eyes, as in the intellectual
expression of her countenance and her queenlike bearing, had fully
unfolded itself in the quietude of her home.

Those who have found in books the greatest joys and pleasures of their
lives know what an immense enthusiasm, what an ardent and insatiable
curiosity fills the soul when circumstances permit them to explore the
vast field of human thought and inspiration and to dive into its
treasury. Madame de Bretteville’s library was well filled with
translations of the great classics of Greece and Rome, and also with the
works of Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu and other modern writers. These
became the favorite study of Charlotte. One of her greatest favorites
was Raynal, whose famous History of the two Indies had just appeared and
filled Europe with admiration. Very likely that which appealed so
strongly to Charlotte’s heart was the sympathy which the author felt for
the oppressed races, and especially for the black slaves. With untiring
zeal and passion she devoured everything in her aunt’s library,--novels,
history, philosophy,--and these studies finally led her to politics,
which engaged at that time the minds of the foremost writers of France
and became the favorite subject of public and private discussion. In
this way two parallel currents of ideas had formed themselves in
Charlotte’s mind,--on the one hand, a powerful desire for greater
liberty and the elevation of the oppressed and degraded; on the other
hand, a profound admiration for those who devote and sacrifice
themselves to the great cause of humanity, and a vague but ardent desire
to adorn her name with the halo of heroism and immortality. Left
entirely to the instincts and aspirations of her own nature, the young
royalist (for her entire family was strictly royalistic) had become a
republican, but a republican in the sense of Plutarch and Tacitus,
nourished by the sentiments of Corneille and Rousseau. Nothing in her
appearance indicated her enthusiastic and soul-devouring ambition to
make herself the deliverer of her country from the terrible calamities
which had recently befallen it. Her political studies had filled her,
republican though she was, with extreme disgust and hatred for the
Terrorists, and especially for Marat, who seemed to be their inspiring
genius. This was the general situation and also the personal frame of
mind of Charlotte Corday at the time the Girondists who had escaped from
Paris came to Caen to organize armed resistance to the terrorism of the
“Mountain.”

Charlotte Corday had zealously followed the reports in the newspapers
she could get hold of concerning the situation at Paris, and her heart
beat warmly for the cause of the Girondists. Like all others in the city
she lived in, she believed that Marat was the secret spring that kept
the entire machinery of the Revolution in motion, that he was the head
and soul of the anarchists and murderers, that he was the centre of all
conspiracies, the originator of all crimes, and that, with him out of
the way, peace and liberty would soon regain the ascendency, and a
freer, nobler, greater France would arise from the ruins. With such
convictions in her mind she attended the meetings of the Girondists,
where appeals were made to the citizens of Caen and all Normandy to
enroll themselves in the service of their country, of liberty, of
humanity, against the tyrants at Paris. The impression which these
meetings made upon her soul can hardly be described. For the first time
she saw and heard the men she had read so much about, and whose
patriotic utterances had so often found a loud echo in her own heart;
they were there, young, beautiful, enthusiastic, made doubly interesting
by the ban of proscription which had exiled them from Paris; they were
there with their inspiring eloquence and patriotic appeals, and in the
tumultuous audience there was no one more fully enchanted and carried
away than the young girl, the disciple of Plutarch and Rousseau. The
words: “Country!” “Duty!” “Public Welfare!” repeated again and again by
the orators, were deeply engraved upon her impressionable heart. An
extraordinary exaltation took possession of Charlotte’s soul; she
aspired to a part as grand as that of these orators; she longed for a
chance to devote herself to the holy cause of liberty and to suffer for
it.

These projects and aspirations remained mere vague dreams, until an
event occurred which gave them definite shape. On the seventh of July
the volunteers who were to march on Paris assembled on a large plain in
the immediate vicinity of Caen. The plain was large enough to hold one
hundred thousand men; but only thirty volunteers appeared. General
disappointment was visible among the spectators; but no one was more
deeply affected than Charlotte Corday, who was also present. It seems
that from that very sorrow there sprang up within her mind a project
both heroic and terrible,--to assassinate Marat, whose words had been
most influential in expelling and proscribing the Girondists. To
Charlotte’s mind the cause of the Girondists was identical with that of
liberty, country, and justice. And how often in the past had a pure and
blameless life sacrificed for a great cause appeased the wrath of
Destiny! She went home and requested an interview with the Girondist
deputies.

Charlotte Corday was then twenty-four years old, but looked much
younger. She was tall, and of beautiful proportions; her complexion was
of dazzling whiteness, her hair was blond, her luminous eyes of charming
sweetness, her nose finely cut, and her chin indicated firmness and
determination. Her face was a perfect oval, and the total impression was
that of perfect beauty. Both her smile and her voice were of angelic
sweetness. Charlotte made a profound impression upon the deputies; but
they were not inclined to take her seriously. One day Pétion came in
while she was in conversation with Barbaroux. “Ah, ah,” said he, “there
is the beautiful young aristocrat paying a visit to the Republicans.”
“You judge me wrongly,” she replied, “but some day you will know who I
am.”

The question has often been asked whether the Girondists put the dagger
in Charlotte Corday’s hand to assassinate Marat. The enemies of the
Girondists persistently asserted this, but there is no evidence to that
effect. Possibly in her two conversations with Barbaroux her
determination to assassinate Marat, and not Danton or Robespierre,
became confirmed by the intensity of hatred and contempt manifested for
him by the famous Girondist leader. At all events, after these
interviews she made her preparations to go to Paris with great
circumspection, and great tranquillity of mind. A little dressing-case,
a night-gown and a volume of Plutarch’s Lives, with some money, was all
her baggage. But before going to Paris she proceeded to Argentan to bid
her family farewell. Her father and her sister were living there, and
she told them that she intended to go to England, and would remain there
until the storm of the Revolution had blown over. She bade them farewell
without showing an excess of emotion, but also without faintness, and
then departed for Paris in the public stage-coach.

       *       *       *       *       *

During the journey, which at that period lasted two days, she appeared
serene and happy; no preoccupation seemed to disturb the tranquillity of
her mind. Her fellow-travellers all fell in love with her and treated
her with distinguished courtesy. One of them offered to marry her.
Charlotte smiled, but refused politely. Moreover they were all radical
revolutionists, and swore by Danton, Robespierre and Marat.

At Caen nobody had any idea of her plan. She had told her aunt she would
go to Argentan and thence to England. She had always concealed her
political views so carefully that nobody could have suspected her.

She arrived at Paris on the forenoon of the eleventh of July, and put up
at the Providence Hotel. Tired out by the long and tedious journey, she
went to bed early in the afternoon and slept well till the next morning.
No conscientious scruples disturbed her. Her mind was fully made up, and
she did not for a minute hesitate to execute her project. The next
morning she went to the Palais Royal, purchased a strong and sharp steel
knife, and carefully hid it in her bosom. She then asked herself when
and where she was to use her weapon. She would have preferred to give
her act a certain solemnity. At Caen, while brooding over her purpose,
she had conceived the plan to assassinate Marat on the Champ de Mars, on
the fourteenth of July, during the celebration of the anniversary of the
destruction of the Bastile and the overthrow of the monarchy. She hoped
to slay this king of anarchy, surrounded as he would then be by
thousands of his murderous followers; but when the celebration was
postponed, she planned to assassinate him at one of the sessions of the
Convention, the scene of his crimes and proscriptions. When she learned
that Marat was ill and did not attend the sessions of the Convention,
there seemed no way left for her except to go to his residence and meet
him there. She addressed a letter to him asking for a private interview.
The letter remained unanswered. She sent a second letter, more urgent
than the first, in which she requested an immediate interview for the
purpose of communicating to him a secret of great importance. Moreover
she represented herself as unhappy, as a victim of political persecution
and appealed to his protection. After this appeal she hoped to be
admitted.

At about seven o’clock in the evening of July 13 she left her hotel,
took a cab and proceeded to the residence of Marat, a dismal old
building, No. 20 in the Rue des Cordeliers. There Marat lived, and there
also he had the office and the press and composing-rooms of his
newspaper, “The Friend of the People.” Marat’s living apartments, which
were furnished with a certain elegance strangely contrasting with the
general appearance of the building, were situated on the second floor
and were shared by his mistress, or rather his wife, who loved him
passionately, and who watched over him with the fidelity of a dog.
Knowing the great peril to which the idol of her heart might be exposed
from foreign visitors, she subjected each of them, before admitting him,
to a careful scrutiny and painstaking examination.

When Charlotte Corday had ascended the stairway leading to Marat’s
office, she suddenly found herself in the presence of Catherine
Evrard--she continued to call herself by that name, although afterwards
it appeared that she had been married to Marat. Catherine was surprised
at the strange visitor, who, with a firm and melodious voice, inquired
for the citizen Marat and desired to see him. With great attention
Catherine scanned the young woman, who was dressed with great modesty
and looked like a lady from the provinces, and demanded the object of
her visit, and as Charlotte either refused to give her that information
or failed to impress her favorably, she declined to admit her to Marat’s
room, who, she said, was just taking a bath and could not be seen. At
this moment Marat’s voice was heard from a room whose door was not
tightly closed, and he told Catherine to admit the young stranger. He
thought it was the young woman who had written to him, and who had
announced her visit for that evening. Thus invited, Charlotte entered
the room, much against the wish of Catherine. It was a small and dark
room. A bath-tub stood in the centre, and Marat was taking a bath,
covered up to the neck, except his right arm and shoulder, for he was in
the act of writing an editorial for his newspaper. A board had been
placed across the tub, and in this way a table had been formed to hold
his manuscript. As she stepped up to him he began to ask her concerning
the important news from Normandy she had promised in her letter. He also
inquired about the Girondists who had gone there, and wanted to know
what they were doing. She told him. “It is all right,” he said, while
marking down their names. “Within a week they will all be guillotined.”
If anything had been needed to confirm her resolution and to stir her up
to speedy action, it was this announcement. She quickly drew the dagger
from her bosom and plunged it into Marat’s breast up to the handle. This
thrust, aimed from above, and executed with wonderful force and
firmness, pierced the lungs, and severed the main arteries, from which a
stream of blood rushed forth.

“Ah, this to me, my dear friend?” exclaimed the wounded man. It was all
he could say. A moment later he was dead.

The assassination of Marat created a rage, a frenzy among the lowest
classes of the population of Paris which it is impossible to describe.
That the courageous young woman who had slain the demon of blood was not
torn to pieces is a wonder. Charlotte, in thinking of the fate which
might befall her after her task was performed, had not forgotten the
possibility or even probability of falling a victim to the fury of the
people, but even this terrible prospect did not deter her. She received
what may be called a fair trial and she had the benefit of an official
defender. Since she did not deny the act of assassination and readily
admitted that it was an act of premeditation and careful preparation,
any painstaking investigation might have been deemed unnecessary but
for the hope which the Terrorists entertained, of connecting the
Girondist party, and especially the Girondists assembled at Caen, with
her crime,--a hope in which they were utterly disappointed. She was
therefore arraigned before the Revolutionary Tribunal and subjected to a
rigorous examination as to her accomplices.

“Who filled your mind with so much hatred for Marat?” asked the judge.

“I did not need the hatred of others,” she replied; “my own was
sufficient.”

“But somebody must have instigated you to commit this deed?”

“We do but poorly what others tell us to do.”

“What did you hate him for?”

“For the enormity of his crimes.”

“What do you mean by his crimes?”

“His crimes against France and humanity.”

“Why did you kill him?”

“In order to give back peace to my country.”

“Do you believe you have killed all the Marats of France?”

“His death may frighten the others.”

“Do you regret and repent your deed?”

“I rejoice that it was successful.”

Only once during this trial her heart failed her. It was when Catherine
Evrard, Marat’s mistress, took the stand to testify against her, and in
a voice choked with tears told the story of her visit to Marat’s house.
Looking at the woman who through her deed had lost him whom she loved,
the tears burst from her own eyes, and she exclaimed: “No more! No more!
I implore you. It is I who killed him; I do not deny it!”

Again she was deeply moved when the dagger with which she killed Marat
was presented to her. “Do you recognize this instrument?” She turned
away her face and exclaimed: “I do! I do!” The public prosecutor called
attention to the fact that she had plunged the dagger into the breast of
her victim from above, that it was a difficult thrust, and that she must
have practised it before she acquired so much skill.

She listened attentively to what he said, and exclaimed with unfeigned
indignation, “Shame! Shame! The wretch wants to brand me as an
assassin!”

Her words caused a sensation. The audience and even the judges were
struck with admiration, so much energy and patriotic devotion were
expressed in her answers. She stood before them like an antique heroine,
not trembling for her life, but provoking death and inviting it by her
justification of the crime she had committed to save her country. The
trial resulted in her conviction. She received her sentence of death
without showing any emotion; was it not the crown of immortality to
which she had aspired? Her official defender, Chauveau Lagarde,--the
same who three months later so nobly defended Marie Antoinette,--might
have saved her by pleading insanity, but he comprehended her nobility of
soul and would not offend her by such a plea. “She refuses to be
defended,” he said; “she pleads guilty and is beyond the fear of death!”
After the death sentence had been pronounced, she stepped up to her
defender, and with a smile of angelic sweetness thanked him for his
noble-minded, graceful and kind defence. “You understood me,” she said,
“and your esteem consoles me for the contempt of the ignorant masses.”

One thing remarkable about this trial was the respect, not to say the
admiration, with which this young woman, who had killed their idol, was
looked upon by the spectators. They seemed to feel instinctively that a
divine inspiration, a heaven-born principle of humanity and patriotism,
had prompted her to commit an act which human law condemned and
punished, but which posterity would forgive, if not glorify.

From the very hour of her conviction, she became a national heroine. The
wild Maratists clamored against her, but there were thousands and
thousands even among the Revolutionists who sympathized with her and
admired her. Brutus ceased to be the patron saint of patriotic
assassins; his place in the hearts of enemies of tyranny and despotism
was taken by the young girl who had so heroically thrown life and beauty
away to redeem her country. Poets and authors immediately celebrated her
in song and prose; it may be said that her immortality commenced even
before her beautiful head fell under the knife of the guillotine. She
died on the evening of the nineteenth of July.

When she was taken to the place of execution in the costume of the
condemned victims--a scarlet shirt--the sun was setting. His last rays
sent a farewell greeting to the young heroine, who seemed to be bathed
in a halo of glory, as she ascended the steps of the scaffold with firm
step and serene countenance. A shudder passed through the multitude as
her head fell into the basket.

She was not insane; she was an exalted, enthusiastic dreamer, who looked
upon her crime as an act of justice demanded by the necessities of the
times,--an act inspired by a higher Power which had guided her in her
design and helped her in its execution. Thinking of Jeanne d’Arc, who
had saved France and immortalized herself by her self-sacrificing
devotion, she felt convinced that God often chooses woman as his
instrument for interposition in the history of nations. If she deceived
herself in the nature of the act by which she hoped to restore the
happiness of France and to terminate the era of bloody hecatombs
sacrificed to the fury of sanguinary monsters, is it the duty of the
historian to judge her severely? Should he not rather, while pointing
out the error of her judgment, be willing to bestow on her the
laurel-wreath of a patriotic heroine, which has been accorded to her by
poets, by her grateful countrymen, and by the whole world?



CHAPTER XIX

PAUL THE FIRST OF RUSSIA

[Illustration: PAUL I.]



CHAPTER XIX

ASSASSINATION OF PAUL THE FIRST OF RUSSIA

(March 24, 1801)


Those who have followed the preceding chapters will remember that
Catherine the Second of Russia got possession of the throne by the
murder of her husband, fortified that possession by the murder of
another Czar imprisoned in the fortress of Schlüsselburg (the
weak-minded Ivan the Sixth), and finally, haunted by the constant fear
of being dethroned by some new pretender, sacrificed all those whose
claims might become dangerous to her security. History, which is filled
with the crimes of remorseless rulers, furnishes, however, abundant
proof that such crimes, although successful at first, are frequently
visited upon their authors or their authors’ children, and that blood
cruelly and unjustly shed will blossom forth in a new crop of crime and
bloodshed. It was so in the case of the murders committed by Catherine
the Second; and while she, very likely, personally suffered from a
mental agony which made her life on the throne miserable in the extreme,
it was her son who finally paid the penalty.

The life of this unfortunate son had been full of disappointment and
sorrow, almost from the moment of his birth. Born as the son of Peter
the Third, he was almost openly repudiated by his reputed father as a
bastard. Quite often Peter the Third had declared in the presence of
gentlemen and ladies of the court that the little Grand-Duke Paul was
not his son, but either Alexis or Gregor Orloff’s, and that he had no
right to the succession. Catherine, however, insisted that Paul was
Peter’s son, and as the boy grew up, his many peculiarities of mind
showed such a remarkable similarity to those of Peter the Third, that
the legitimacy of his birth could hardly be doubted. It was really the
manifestation of these peculiarities that filled the mind of the mother
with that insuperable aversion, not to say hatred, for the son, which
would have been incomprehensible but for the remorseful recollections
which the traits of the father necessarily awakened in her mind. The boy
could not fail to notice this aversion and hostility on the part of his
mother, especially since the courtiers, modelling their conduct toward
him on the sentiments of the Czarina, treated him with the same coldness
and contempt. His whole education was carefully arranged on a
premeditated plan to keep him as much as possible in ignorance of those
very things which might be useful to him as a ruler, while his character
was rendered distrustful and suspicious to such a degree that he became
a misanthropist of the blackest hue. Not a day passed but he discovered
espionage, treachery, ingratitude and intentional hostility among those
whom the Empress had placed near his person as his tutors, teachers and
confidants. They shamelessly deceived him, betrayed him, and lied about
him. They cautiously instilled into his mind the story of the
assassination of his father and of his mother’s knowledge of the crime,
and when the young man, horror-struck at this disclosure, clenched his
fists and gnashed his teeth, they reported to their imperial mistress
that the young Grand Duke had manifested dangerous symptoms of
impatience and independence, which would require even greater care and
watchfulness on the part of his tutors and a more severe isolation of
the young prince. Their only intention was, of course, to show their
indefatigable zeal in the task entrusted to them and to make themselves
absolutely indispensable to their imperial employer or her favorites;
but the effect on his mind was most disastrous. Burdened with the
suspicion that his own mother was a murderess, and with the evidence
afforded by thousands of little occurrences of her hatred toward
himself, and of the treachery of his attendants, in constant fear of
impending assassination,--is it not almost wonderful that his mind, not
naturally strong, did not absolutely give way?

When Paul had grown up to manhood, he was married to a lovely young
German princess; but since his mother had selected this wife for him, he
regarded her with constant suspicion. She died without having succeeded
in overcoming his distrust. A second marriage, which he was compelled to
contract, had no happier results, although his wife bore him four sons.
By special order of the Empress these sons were taken away from him and
educated under the special supervision of Catherine herself, while Paul
was ordered to proceed to Gatschina, a country-seat near St. Petersburg,
where he amused himself with drilling a battalion of soldiers and
arranging sham battles, just as Peter the Third, his father, had done
before his elevation to the throne. But rarely was he permitted to
receive his children, and when they came to see him, he was always
afraid that some secret danger might surprise him.

In this manner thirty-five years had elapsed since the death of Peter
the Third. During these thirty-five years the name of Peter had hardly
ever been heard at the court, or at least not in the presence of the
Empress. Then Catherine herself falls a prey to the grim destroyer; and
Paul inherits the crown. His mother’s body is laid out in state on a
catafalque, by whose side stands another coffin, magnificently
ornamented and with an imperial crown on its top. It is the coffin of
Peter the Third, whose remains had been deposited in a vault of the
Alexander Nevski Monastery. It was one of Paul’s first official acts to
proceed to this convent, to open the vault and the coffin containing his
father’s mortal remains. One of the gloves of Peter the Third was still
well preserved. Paul took it out of the coffin, knelt down in the
presence of the whole court and reverently kissed it. Then he ordered
the coffin to be carried to the imperial palace where the body of his
mother lay in state, and an imperial crown to be placed on it. It was,
perhaps, the most unique coronation which ever took place in history.
But Paul wanted not only to honor his father’s memory; he wanted also to
punish and to hand over to public contempt his murderer. He therefore
ordered Alexis Orloff, who had planned the assassination of Peter the
Third, to act as chief mourner at the funeral. Orloff obeyed: but
immediately after the obsequies, during which he was the target of the
contemptuous eyes of the whole people, he was thrown into a kibitka and
sent into exile. Such was the opening of Paul’s reign.

In his physical make-up Paul bore not the slightest resemblance to
Peter the Third, and this circumstance seemed to give confirmation to
the circulating rumors that he was not Peter’s son. But if, as a great
historian has pointed out, Catherine’s intense hatred of her son could
have left any doubt in that respect, Paul’s personal acts of government,
almost from the very first day after the funeral of his mother,
absolutely removed it. For, intellectually and morally, never a son bore
a greater resemblance to his father than Paul the First did to Peter the
Third. Paul had good qualities, and with proper education and
assistance, he would very likely have made a good ruler; but without
both, his well-meant but ill-timed plans of reform failed to do the
people any good, while they created untold enemies for him. Exactly like
Peter the Third, he had prepared a number of plans of reform, which he
immediately promulgated without consulting with any one about their
opportuneness or advisability. Like Peter’s reform plans, Paul’s turned
mostly on trivialities,--on the style of hats or coats or military
uniforms,--and by strenuously trying to enforce these edicts he made
himself odious. He hated anything that might remind him of the French
Revolution, and would not permit a Frenchman to enter the Russian Empire
without a passport signed by one of the French Bourbon princes (then
living in exile); like his father he idolized the Prussians and wanted
Prussian military regulations, uniforms and equipment introduced into
the Russian army; in these efforts he was strongly opposed by the
Russian officers and soldiers. They made fun of the imperial ordinances
and (admitting then that he was Peter’s son) said that he had inherited
Peter’s Prussomania and insanity. Citizens and peasants were equally
indignant at Paul’s arbitrary interference with their personal rights
and liberties. He also tried to introduce church reforms, which
irritated the clergy and caused angry protests throughout the Empire. In
attempting to introduce these “reforms” he sometimes manifested symptoms
of real insanity. He declared war upon round hats, which he considered
revolutionary and hostile to the government. He carried this war to such
an extent that he ordered the police and even the soldiery to confiscate
the obnoxious hats and arrest the owners, even while the latter were
promenading in the streets, and without any regard to the weather. In
this manner it was not long before he had estranged the good feelings of
the aristocracy, the army, the clergy and the people at large. They
began to regard him as a trifler and maniac, who was imbued with an
excessive idea of his own authority, who defied national sentiment and
prejudice, and who would not counsel with anybody because he distrusted
everybody.

In his foreign policy he was selfish and vacillating. He subordinated
the national interests of Russia entirely to his own personal whims and
prejudices. He formed alliances and cancelled them without cause, and
thus made enemies of all foreign powers. The most prominent statesmen
and generals became convinced that Russia, which under Catherine’s rule
had won a commanding position among the powers of Europe, would lose all
prestige if forced into a state of political isolation by the foolish
policy of Paul the First.

Plots and conspiracies were formed, of which the most prominent court
officials in immediate attendance on the Emperor became members. Some of
these men he hated because they had been favorites and counsellors of
his mother; others he had in his sudden fits of passion abused and
insulted. Most prominent among these were Count Pahlen, the brothers
Zubow, and Count Talizin, commander of the Imperial Guards. They added
their personal grievances to the public dissatisfaction, and joined
hands in bringing about Paul’s dethronement. They commenced working on
the Grand Dukes, Paul’s sons, and especially upon the oldest of them,
Alexander, whom Count Pahlen convinced that the Emperor held in
readiness an order for the arrest of the Grand Dukes, with the exception
of Nicholas, his third son, whom he had designated for the succession to
the crown. Alexander was of a sentimental turn of mind. For a while he
resisted the tempting offers of the conspirators, but when the reports
of his impending arrest and transfer to Schlüsselburg were confirmed by
others, he finally consented to the arrest of the Emperor and to the
demand for his forced abdication. This he did with tears and
heart-rending supplications not to harm his father and to treat him with
becoming respect. Having received this consent, the conspirators
proceeded to work with great promptness and energy. The time was
propitious for the immediate execution of their conspiracy; for they
knew very well that what originally had been planned only as
dethronement by abdication might easily lead to the assassination of the
Czar, and they had taken precautions and measures tending towards such a
result.

It was during the Masnaliza, the Russian Carnival, that the conspirators
resolved to carry their plot into execution. The whole population was in
a state of frenzy, drunkenness, and wild excesses. The conspirators
knew that during these days they could meet and make all necessary
arrangements without attracting the least attention. Paul the First
resided in the palace of St. Michael, which he claimed to have built on
a direct order of St. Michael himself. He had entirely isolated himself;
his most faithful servant, Count Rostopchin, and his wife, whom he had
really loved, had been banished from his apartments. It was this
Rostopchin who twelve years afterwards burned the city of Moscow. He
distrusted them as well as all others. His only confidante (and, as is
asserted, his mistress at the same time) was an ugly old cook, who
prepared his meals in a kitchen adjoining his bedroom, that he might be
secure against poison. The Empress Maria, distinguished by the
gentleness and tenderness of her sentiments, who had given him
innumerable proofs of her affection and devotion, was in his eyes a
traitress who he supposed was plotting with his enemies against his
life. He had therefore ordered the doors leading from his own apartments
to hers to be walled up.

The assassination itself presents some points of resemblance to that of
Wallenstein, Duke of Friedland. On the evening of March 23, 1801,
General Talizin, chief of the Imperial Guards, gave a brilliant party,
to which only gentlemen of great intrepidity and resoluteness, all of
whom were known to be personal enemies of the Emperor, had been invited.
When the guests were heated with wine and in a condition of
semi-intoxication, Count Pahlen entered the _salon_ in which the guests
were assembled; he referred in a few impressive words to the despotism
and tyranny of the Emperor, to the widespread spirit of rebellion, to
the dissatisfaction prevailing among officers, people, and clergy, to
the public disorders and disturbances breaking out on all sides, and
closed his inflammatory harangue by appealing to his hearers to make an
end of these intolerable conditions. He knew his speech would be
enthusiastically received, and for several minutes there was perfect
bedlam among the guests. Some of them hurled chairs above their heads,
others grasped their knives or swords, and swore that they would kill
the insane fool who had already too long disgraced the imperial throne.

The plan according to which the conspirators proceeded had been
carefully projected. Pahlen, who was Governor-General of St. Petersburg,
left the palace in the general confusion, but returned soon with a
detachment of cavalry and guarded the one side of the Winter Palace.
Talizin marched up from the other side with a regiment of grenadiers.
When these soldiers marched through the botanical garden of the palace,
their loud and heavy steps frightened away many thousand crows, which
were sleeping upon the high lime-trees of the garden. The loud croaking
of this immense army of black birds ought to have aroused Paul from his
sleep and warned him of his impending danger. But he slept on.

After the palace was fully surrounded, the conspirators crossed the
ditch on the ice. A battalion of soldiers, who were not in the secret,
and who were on guard on the outposts, offered some resistance, but were
easily overpowered and disarmed. Not a shot had been fired. After having
passed the gates of the palace, the conspirators were joined by Colonel
Marin, the Commandant of the palace, who conducted the riotous throng,
among whom were hardly any sober persons, over winding-stairs up to the
door of the Emperor’s bedroom. On the threshold of the door the guard
was asleep, and when aroused and trying to resist, was very rudely
handled and barely escaped alive. He ran down the stairs and called the
guards to arms. They demanded to be taken to the Emperor’s rooms, but
Marin interfered. He made them present arms, and in this position no
Russian soldier dares move a limb or speak a word.

The crowd entered the bedroom. Prince Zubow and General Benningsen--the
latter a Hanoverian by birth, but of great authority in the army on
account of his energy and reckless audacity--stepped up to the bed of
the Czar, brandishing their swords. “Sire,” said Benningsen, “you are my
prisoner!” The Emperor stared at them in speechless surprise. “Sire,”
continued Benningsen, “it is a question of life or death for you! Yield
to circumstances and sign this act of abdication!” The room was becoming
filled up with drunken conspirators, all of whom wanted to see what was
going on, and tried to get in. In a moment of confusion caused by this
pushing and crowding in, which others tried to prevent, the Emperor
sprang from his bed and took refuge behind the screen of a stove, where
he staggered over some obstacle and fell to the ground. “Sire,”
exclaimed Benningsen once more, “submit to the inevitable! Your life is
at stake!” At this moment a new noise was heard from the anteroom, and
Benningsen, who so far had been the only protector of Paul’s life,
turned to the door, to see whether the new-comers were friends or
enemies. Paul was, for the moment, alone with his assailants. His
courage returned. He ran up to a table upon which lay several pistols.
He reached for them, but some of the conspirators had watched the
motion of his hand; one of them almost severed it from his arm by a
stroke of his sword. Agonized with pain the Czar rushed upon his
enemies. A short struggle, a heavy fall, and it was all over.

The murder of Peter the Third was brought about by the use of a napkin;
his son, Paul the First, was strangled with an officer’s sash. There is
another point of resemblance in the assassination of the two Czars,
father and son. Alexis Orloff and Nicholas Zubow, the murderers of the
two Czars, had both taken dinner with their victims on the day of the
murder.

When the death of their father was reported to the Grand Dukes,
Alexander especially, the heir to the crown, was almost overcome with
emotion and terror. The details of the murder were carefully concealed
from him; on the contrary, he was made to believe that a fit of apoplexy
brought on by the excitement of the scene had caused the Czar’s death.
After much lamentation he was finally persuaded to address a
proclamation to the Russian people in which apoplexy was given as the
cause of the sudden and unexpected death of Czar Paul the First during
the night of the twenty-third of March. Quite early next day this
proclamation was promulgated throughout the city of Petersburg by
military heralds. But the people were not deceived by these official
lies. Everybody knew in what manner Paul the First had died. The news of
the murder in all its details had spread with lightning-like rapidity
through the streets and alleys to the remotest corners of the city.

The conspirators, far from denying their guilt, boasted of the crime as
of an act of heroism and patriotism. Many officers who were at the time
miles away from the palace of St. Michael claimed to have been witnesses
of the tragedy and to have lent a helping hand in slaying “the tyrant.”
It is recorded that Count Münster, the Prussian ambassador at the court
of St. Petersburg, a short time after Paul’s assassination, spoke with
horror and indignation of the catastrophe at a dinner party at which a
number of the most prominent army officers and state officials were
present; one of these officers quite unconcernedly defended the crime,
saying: “Count, you should not blame us for defending ourselves! Our
Magna Charta is tyranny, or if you prefer to call it so, absolutism,
tempered by assassination, and our rulers should regulate their conduct
accordingly!” And this state of affairs has existed in Russia to the
present day.



CHAPTER XX

AUGUST VON KOTZEBUE

[Illustration: AUGUST VON KOTZEBUE]



CHAPTER XX

ASSASSINATION OF AUGUST VON KOTZEBUE

(March 23, 1819)


After the downfall of Napoleon the monarchs of Europe had a very
difficult task to perform. Not only were the domestic institutions of
their states, which had been overthrown by the French conquest and in
many cases altered by French decrees, to be regulated anew or reinstated
on a firm footing, but the relations between governments and subjects
were to be reorganized on a new basis, in conformity with the liberal
principles which had spread from France and been adopted readily by the
intelligent and educated classes in Germany. Solemn promises had been
made by the German princes to their peoples in order to enlist their
sympathies in their final efforts against Napoleon, and after the
Corsican had been dethroned, they were expected to carry out these
promises. Especially was this true of Prussia and the smaller German
states, whose inhabitants had been promised a system of representative
government and a constitution limiting the powers of the executive. Such
promises were very inconvenient to some of these governments, and they
were rather inclined to forget and abandon them than to carry them out
in good faith. Moreover Russia and Austria, the representatives of
autocratic power in Europe, exerted their influence on the German
governments in a direction opposite to the popular aspirations, and
encouraged them to ignore their pledges given under the stress of
invasion. It should be remembered that the Holy Alliance, of which
Metternich was the inspiring genius, had been formed not only against
Napoleon, but also against the freedom and the popular rights of the
nations of Europe. In spite of its high-sounding and sanctimonious
title, the Holy Alliance was the curse of nations, and it would have
extended its nefarious influence even beyond the Atlantic Ocean, and
would have crushed the national aspirations for independence and
self-government in the states of Central and South America but for the
timely issue of the Monroe Doctrine, which saved the Western hemisphere
from “Holy Alliance” interference.

It was only after the united efforts of the nations culminated in the
final dethronement of Napoleon, and after the Vienna Congress had
apportioned the heritage of the Empire among the victorious monarchs
that the nations became aware that the liberal promises they had
received while these monarchs were in distress were either not to be
redeemed at all, or redeemed only in part. The sagacity of the statesmen
of continental Europe was bent on defrauding the people of those civil
and political rights which had been held out to them as part of the
reward to be won by repelling the attacks of Napoleon, and the
sovereigns were only too willing to assist them in carrying out this
deception.

Unfortunately some of these sovereigns were of inferior mental calibre
and not at all fitted for the great work of reconstructing their
shattered monarchies after the tremendous convulsions of the preceding
twenty years, and they were perfectly dwarfed by a comparison with the
colossus who had moulded Europe so long solely according to the
inspirations of his genius or ambition. Alexander of Russia had the
reputation of being a man of ability; but this reputation was without
solid foundation. At the period immediately following the overthrow of
Napoleon he was entirely under the influence of Madame Krüdener, a
religious enthusiast and visionary, who skilfully concealed her
immorality under pietistic propagandism. She filled Alexander’s mind
with vague and mystic ideas of his divine mission as a ruler, in which
the human rights of his subjects had no place. Frederick William the
Third, King of Prussia, was a weakling of the worst sort. He had
actually been forced into the anti-Napoleonic movement by the enthusiasm
of his people, and after national independence had been accomplished he
trembled lest anything might occur to endanger the public order and
tranquillity so dearly purchased. It was therefore comparatively easy
for the reactionary elements to get full control of the Prussian
government and to prevent any bold reform in a democratic direction. All
they had to do was to fill the mind of the timid King with a vague fear
that the scenes of the French Revolution might be renewed by inviting
the people to coöperation in the government. Even less reliable was the
Emperor of Austria, Francis the First, a man naturally distrustful and
suspicious, who knew how to conceal his cunning and his antagonism to
liberal ideas under the appearance of great personal kindness and
_bonhomie_. These were the three men of whom Europe expected a great
political reform, and never perhaps, in political history, were hopes
and expectations so woefully misplaced and doomed to more cruel
disappointment than in this case.

It would be unjust to assert that the great mass of the German people
felt a deep interest in the introduction of those measures of political
reform which the sovereigns had promised when they appealed to the
patriotism of their subjects. Most of the Germans, even those belonging
to the educated classes, had up to that time paid but little attention
to politics, and their political indifference had survived the war for
national independence. The nobility, with a few noble exceptions, were
not at all anxious to see measures of political reform introduced,
because they knew that such measures would curtail their aristocratic
privileges and prerogatives.

But there was one class of citizens which had hailed the promises of the
sovereigns with unbounded enthusiasm, for they had hoped from their
realization a political renaissance for the whole Fatherland and a new
era of greatness and world-wide influence recalling the days of the
Hohenstaufen,--the glorious days when the German Empire was the first
power in the world, and when all civilized nations from the Baltic Sea
to the southern shores of the Mediterranean bowed their necks in
obedience to the demands of its rulers. This class was the students of
the many German universities, scattered over Prussia, Austria, Bavaria,
and the smaller German states. Inspired by Schiller, Körner, Arndt, and
other poets, these young men had flocked to the standards of Blücher,
Scharnhorst, York, and Bülow, and had fought with the courage of lions
on the battle-fields of Germany and France for the holy cause of German
independence. The hope and dream of another Germany, greater, nobler,
more progressive and worthier of being the leader of nations than they
had known it before the war, had fanned their enthusiasm into a flame
which nothing could extinguish, and which after their return from the
war burst forth, here and there, in great patriotic demonstrations.

Dreamers and idealists though they were, they began to transform some of
their dreams into reality. They formed a great association embracing the
students of all the German universities, north and south,--the German
Burschenschaft, in whose organization they embodied the noblest
principles of manhood, patriotism, and civic devotion. The ancient
German colors, black, red and gold, were revived to adorn their banners,
their caps, their sashes and badges. Quite a literature of patriotic and
students’ songs suddenly sprang into existence, in which the dream of a
great united Germany appeared in the mind’s eye as a living reality.
Many of the professors of the universities, who had also been volunteers
in the war and had shared the enthusiasm of the students, joined them in
their patriotic devotion and lent the authority of their names and
writings to their aspirations of national political revival. Arndt’s
famous national song, “Where is the German’s Fatherland?” with the
reply, that the German fatherland embraces all the countries in which
the German tongue is heard and in which German song rises heavenward, is
the typical expression of that most enthusiastic period of German
student-life.

The Burschenschaft became an organization of national importance. It had
its admirers, but it had also its enemies; and unfortunately the latter
were mostly to be found among the nobility. The feeling prevailing
against the Burschenschaft in the government circles of the different
German states was therefore decidedly hostile, and waited only for an
opportunity to show that hostility. This opportunity soon presented
itself and, it must be admitted, was brought about by the reckless
audacity of the members of the association. In the year 1817 the
tercentenary of the great German Reformation was to be celebrated with
unusual splendor, and the Burschenschaft profited by this occasion to
make a public demonstration in behalf of its patriotic principles. It
selected as the place of its convention the Wartburg, where Martin
Luther resided upon his return from the Diet of Worms and, to make the
convention especially noteworthy and solemn, had chosen the eighteenth
of October, the anniversary of the battle of Leipsic, as the principal
day for the celebration.

An immense number of visitors from all parts of Germany came to
Eisenach, situated at the foot of the Wartburg, and delegations of
students from all German universities, adorned with their German colors
and carrying black, red and gold banners with patriotic inscriptions,
assembled on the historic ground and participated in the festivities,
for which an elaborate programme had been arranged. The greatest
enthusiasm prevailed, and for the time being all those petty jealousies
which had so often disturbed the cordial fellowship of the inhabitants
of different German states had disappeared, and all those present
revelled in the exuberance of patriotic sentiment; they were all the
children of one great fatherland, a great united nation! The songs and
the speeches repeated and echoed this one thought. It lived uppermost in
the hearts of those young enthusiasts, but presented itself to their
minds rather as a vague poetic ideal than as a stern political reality.
Among the thousands of visitors there was, perhaps, not one who had
seriously thought of the political realization of the dream. Imprudent
as these too boisterous demonstrations had been during the day, there
was enacted late in the evening, when most of the guests had already
left the famous castle, a sort of theatrical performance, which
irritated the conservative and reactionary classes exceedingly and
resulted disastrously for the Burschenschaft. This performance was
gotten up in imitation of a famous scene in Luther’s life--the burning
of the papal bull. Massmann, a student of the university of Jena,
represented the Luther of the nineteenth century. A large bonfire was
built, and amidst boundless enthusiasm a number of books and other
materials, odious to the students, were thrown into the flames and
destroyed. Among the books was Kotzebue’s “History of the German
Empire,” Haller’s “Restoration of Political Science,” Section 13 of the
Federal Constitution, etc. Besides the books, a corset such as used to
be worn by the officers of the Prussian guards, a Hessian queue, and an
Austrian corporal’s mace were also thrown into the fire.

The Wartburg celebration produced tremendous excitement throughout
Germany. The reactionary elements were wild with indignation. They
accused not only the managers of the festivity and the Burschenschaft of
revolutionary tendencies, but they included in this charge all the young
men of the Empire, averring that they had grown up under the influence
of the pernicious doctrines of the French Revolution and French armies
of occupation, and wanted now to apply those doctrines to the
reorganization of German institutions. They also demanded that the
organizers of the Wartburg celebration should be prosecuted and punished
as traitors. All the conservative and government papers opened a regular
war upon the seditious and revolutionary tendencies of the universities,
and the agitation reached its climax by the publication of a memorandum
addressed by Baron Stourdza, a Russian councillor of state, to the
Emperor Alexander, in which he predicted that a bloody revolution would
result unless these seditious tendencies were speedily repressed. The
Stourdza memorandum had originally been intended for the use of the
governments only. The Czar had sent a copy to each European government,
but one copy of it had found its way to the office of a Paris newspaper
and had been published. The excitement among the German students rose to
the boiling-point, and their wrath was concentrated against Russia. It
was only too well known that Russia had in her employ a number of spies
scattered throughout the German states, who kept her government well
posted on the political and social currents. The most prominent of these
spies was August von Kotzebue, a man of great literary talent and
distinguished as the author of many comedies and dramas, but politically
of extreme conservative views. The attacks of the liberal press were
therefore mainly directed against Kotzebue, whose reports to the Russian
government were supposed to have inspired Stourdza’s memorandum.

At that time there was at Jena a student of the University, of
irreproachable character, excellent conduct, not especially
distinguished by eminent ability or talent, but inclined to religious
and patriotic exaltation. His name was Carl Ludwig Sand; he came from
Wunsiedel, the birthplace of the famous German humorist, Jean Paul
Friedrich Richter. He had been a volunteer in the war against France and
had embraced the doctrines of the Burschenschaft with the greatest
enthusiasm. The denunciations of the German students in Stourdza’s
memorandum filled him with profound indignation, especially against
Kotzebue, whom he blamed as the principal sinner. Moreover the
frivolous, half indecent character of many of Kotzebue’s plays had often
revolted Sand’s moral sentiment. He considered him a source of
corruption for the young men and women of the nation, and when to this
wrong the charge of political treason and espionage was added, Sand
thought that nothing but death was an adequate punishment for Kotzebue.
He considered also that it was not only a moral, but a patriotic duty to
inflict upon him that punishment. He knew that the act would cost him
his life, but that consideration did not for a moment deter him from
undertaking it. He did not consult with anybody about it, but he
conceived, planned, and executed it all alone.

On the ninth of March, 1819, Sand left Jena and proceeded to Mannheim,
where Kotzebue lived. Two weeks later, on the twenty-third of March,
1819, a young stranger appeared at the Kotzebue residence, and said that
he wished to see the councillor in order to hand him personally a letter
of introduction. The servant delivered the message, and after a few
minutes Kotzebue himself appeared in the hall and invited Sand--for it
was he--to come in. Sand handed him the letter; but no sooner had
Kotzebue opened it and begun to read it than Sand plunged a long
dirk-knife into his breast with the words, “Take this as your reward,
traitor to your country!” And he stabbed him again and again with fatal
effect. Thereupon he thrust the knife into his own breast, but had
strength enough to run out into the hall, where he handed the astounded
servant a sealed document containing a well-written justification of his
murderous act, and inscribed: “Death Punishment for August von Kotzebue
in the name of virtue.” Running out into the street, where a crowd of
people assembled, attracted by the screams of the servant, he called out
in a loud voice: “Long live my German fatherland!” and kneeling down he
forcibly plunged the knife into his breast once more, exclaiming: “Great
God, I thank thee for this victory.”

Sand’s wound was serious, but a skilful operation saved his life. On the
twentieth of May, 1820, he was executed at Mannheim, after a lengthy
trial and a painstaking investigation, in the course of which the German
and the Russian police made great efforts to discover accessories to his
crime. All these efforts failed, however, and the murder of Kotzebue
could be accounted only an individual act of patriotic exaltation. The
result of Sand’s self-sacrifice was very different from what he had
expected. In fact, Kotzebue’s assassination proved disastrous to the
liberal movement throughout Germany; it furnished a welcome pretext for
the most repressive measures against the press, against the
universities, against the Burschenschaft, against liberty in whatever
shape or form it might manifest itself. That long era of political
reaction was inaugurated against which the German people rebelled with
only partial success in 1848 and 1849, and from which only the ejection
of Austria and the reorganization of a new German Empire on a more
liberal basis in 1871 gave them permanent relief.



CHAPTER XXI

DUC DE BERRY

[Illustration: DUC DE BERRY]



CHAPTER XXI

ASSASSINATION OF THE DUC DE BERRY

(February 13, 1820)


The political situation in France, after the overthrow of Napoleon and
the restoration of the Bourbons, was even more difficult and more
precarious for the governing classes than it was in Germany. The French
nation, proud in the consciousness of having occupied the first place in
Europe for twenty years, chafed at the idea of living under a king whom
foreign rulers and foreign armies had imposed on France, and who, in
consequence, had to act in blind obedience to the dictates of these
foreigners. The danger of a new violent outbreak against the Bourbon
government was therefore ever present not only to the French mind, but
to the mind of Europe, and to guard against it the foreign powers had
made it one of the terms of peace with France that a foreign army of
occupation should hold possession of the northern and northeastern
provinces of France until the entire war indemnity exacted from the
vanquished country had been paid. While the foreign occupation was
ostensibly a financial measure, it was in reality a military measure
giving to the foreign powers the keys to the interior of France and to
Paris, in case a new invasion should become necessary. Not only was the
position of the King rendered difficult by his political opponents, the
Imperialists and the Republicans, but its hardships and difficulties
were materially aggravated by the senseless and extravagant demands of
the Royalists, who had in large number returned to France with the
foreign armies. These Royalists, many of whom had been absent from
France for twenty years or more, on their return from their voluntary
exile, found their estates and manors, which had been confiscated under
the Revolution, in the possession of strangers; all the superior offices
in the civil service and the higher positions in the army, which they
claimed as their own by right of birth, were filled by men of low
extraction. They therefore turned to the King and demanded of him the
restoration of their lost estates of their aristocratic privileges.

The King, Louis the Eighteenth, was perhaps the most intelligent of all
the monarchs of Europe, but he lacked force of character, and, moreover,
his long life in exile, with its pleasures and enjoyments as a sybarite
and epicurean, had but poorly qualified him for his suddenly imposed
tasks. He was expected by Europe to hold his own in a population the
majority of whom were opposed to him, and who had learned that a king
could be easily got rid of, if the people did not want him. Although
Louis the Eighteenth, with his penetrating sagacity, clearly saw the
instability of his throne, he honestly wished to make the best of the
chance the fortune of war had given him. He was willing to give the
French people a liberal government, provided it could be done without
endangering the throne, and without violating the pledges given to the
monarchs who had reinstated him. He might have even more energetically
opposed the reactionary demands of the ultra-Royalists, who recognized
his younger brother, the Comte d’Artois, as their leader, if his
experiences, especially during the “Hundred Days,” had not filled him
with disgust and suspicion toward the Imperialists. While Napoleon was
in Elba, Louis the Eighteenth kept all the Bonapartist generals and high
officials in office, relying on their promises and assurances of
fidelity; but on Napoleon’s return they all betrayed him, and either
flocked to the standards of the Emperor or declared their adhesion to
his cause as soon as he had set foot on French soil.

Perhaps the man who had sinned most in this respect was Marshal Ney, who
in a personal interview asked of the King as a personal favor to be
placed in command of an army corps and to be sent against the Emperor,
pledging himself to bring Napoleon in chains before his throne. Louis
granted the Marshal’s request, but instead of capturing the Emperor, Ney
went over to him with his entire army corps and fought at Waterloo again
as the “bravest of the brave” in the imperial army. In vain he sought
death on the field, when he saw that the battle was lost; it was
reserved for him to die by French bullets in the Luxembourg garden of
Paris, fired by royalist officers, disguised as common soldiers. From
party hatred, these men had volunteered to act as executioners of one of
the greatest military heroes of revolutionary France. Labédoyère and
other famous generals who were traitors to Louis were executed; others
saved their lives by flight. The great Carnot and other Imperialists
were banished from France.

The impression made upon the ultra-Royalists by these severe measures
against men who had shed lustre upon France, was in the highest degree
deplorable. These fanatics supposed that the Bonapartists and
Republicans of the whole kingdom were utterly at their mercy. They
secretly organized a special government, under the presidency of the
Comte d’Artois, at the Pavilion Marsan for the purpose of bringing to
justice all those who had participated in the Napoleonic _coup d’état_
or in the Revolution of 1789. A new era of terrorism was organized by
these “white Jacobins,” as they were significantly called, and the most
cruel excesses were committed in the provinces. La Vendée, which had
fought so heroically for the Bourbon dynasty, treated the Imperialists
and Republicans generously; but in the South, where religious fanaticism
added fuel to the flame of political hatred, the most atrocious excesses
and murders were committed. Avignon, Nîmes, Montpellier, Toulouse and
other cities of the South were disgraced by the butchery of hundreds of
Protestants; in some of them the victims of religious and political
persecution died at the stake. At Avignon the famous Marshal Brune was
assassinated; at Toulouse, General Ramel; at Nîmes, Count de la Garde.
Wholesale assassinations and butcheries were organized; armed bands,
fanaticized by the priests, roamed through the country, and butchered
the Protestants _en masse_. Ten thousand of the unfortunates fled to the
mountain recesses of the Cevennes, choosing rather to die from hunger
and cold than to be tortured to death. Juries composed of the most
intolerant Royalists lent their aid to these outrages, by condemning the
Protestants to death and acquitting the assassins. The veterans of
Napoleon’s army and forty thousand officers, many of whom had served
with distinction under the imperial eagles, were driven from their homes
and wandered from village to village begging for bread and shelter. The
northern provinces were spared these outrages, but the one hundred and
fifty thousand foreign soldiers stationed in their towns and fortresses
were terrible reminders of the humiliation and shame which the
restoration of the Bourbons had brought upon France.

The French Chambers were entirely under the control of the extreme
Royalists. They enacted laws which reduced the political conditions of
France to those which had existed prior to 1789. They looked upon the
Revolutionary era and the Empire as upon a lawless interregnum which
should be ignored by the government, and they demanded that all the old
institutions of the kingdom should be revived. They were so bold and so
insolent that they overawed the government for a while. Very reluctantly
the King consented to several tyrannical laws,--for instance, the law
referring all political crimes to special courts, composed of one
officer and four judges, from whose decision no appeal could be taken.
But the King saw to his regret that his acquiescence in these immoderate
demands had no other effect than to make the ultra-Royalists bolder and
more arrogant. They demanded a curtailment of the right of suffrage, a
reënactment of the right of primogeniture and other feudal measures.

The King’s patience was exhausted; he refused to sanction any of these
laws and dissolved the Chambers. In their impotent rage the disappointed
ultra-Royalists applied to the foreign powers, asking their intervention
in behalf of absolute royalty, and imploring them to compel the King to
desist from his pernicious protection of Jacobins and regicides.
Metternich sent this strange petition to the French government. But
neither the King nor his favorite minister, M. Decazes, was scared by
such foolhardy steps. They coolly ignored them and courageously
inaugurated a series of political reforms in order to reassure public
opinion. Instead of reducing the number of electors (as the ultras
demanded), they largely increased it. To the periodical press and the
daily newspapers was given greater liberty; the censorship, which had
been exceedingly annoying, was abolished. At the same time, by the able
financial management of the Duc de Richelieu, the 1,600,000,000 francs
war indemnity was reduced to 502,000,000 francs and a large number of
the foreign troops were withdrawn from the northern provinces. These
liberal and patriotic measures followed one another in quick succession
and made a very favorable impression upon the people. The liberal
parties were willing to coöperate with the government in its endeavor to
restore the prosperity of the country, to relieve the distress of the
masses, and to free France from foreign occupation. The Chambers of 1818
and 1819 also coöperated with the government, and the liberal party was
represented in them by a small number of illustrious men,--such men as
Lafayette, General Foy, Benjamin Constant,--men who were more patriots
than partisans. In fact, everything indicated a return of speedy
prosperity, when an event occurred which at one blow crushed the hopes
of the patriots, paralyzed the hand of the government, and reinstated
the extremists in power. This event was the assassination of the Duc de
Berry, the hope of the Bourbon dynasty.

On its return from exile the royal family of France consisted of:

The King, formerly Comte de Provence.

The King’s brother, the Comte d’Artois, and his two sons:

The Duc d’Angoulême, and

The Duc de Berry.

The Comte d’Artois, the presumptive heir to the throne, was born in
1757, and was consequently fifty-seven years old on his return to Paris.
He was ultra-Royalistic in his political views and was considered the
head of the extremists. His eldest son, the Duc d’Angoulême, was born in
1775, and had retired from France with his father at the commencement of
the Revolution. He was a man of very mediocre ability, but of exemplary
character. In 1799 he was married to his cousin Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte,
daughter of Louis the Sixteenth, who had passed her unhappy childhood in
prison, which she had left only in 1795. She was worshipped by the
entire royal family as an angel of kindness and mercy. They had no
children.

The younger son, the Duc de Berry, was born in 1778, and had passed his
youth and early manhood in exile. He had a more manly character than his
brother, and the French nobility of the old _régime_ looked upon him as
the hope of the Bourbon dynasty. Far from being a genius, the Duc de
Berry was a man of good intelligence, brave, dashing, and the very type
of a French officer, prior to the Revolution. He had many of the
generous traits, but also some of the vices of that elegant and
high-spirited class of young men. While living in exile, in England, he
formed a liaison with a young Englishwoman, who bore him two daughters,
to whom he was greatly attached and whom he took to Paris and placed in
a young ladies’ academy. In 1816 the King married him to a Neapolitan
princess, Caroline, daughter of the Crown Prince of that kingdom, a
handsome, high-spirited, healthy young woman, who gave promise of giving
the dynasty direct heirs. The newly married couple lived very happily
together, and enjoyed life in the French capital to its fullest extent.
They were really the official representatives of royalty and its
splendors,--neither the King nor the Duc d’Angoulême caring much for the
entertainments, balls, and receptions of court life. The prominence thus
given to the Duc de Berry, and the expectation that through him the
elder line of the Bourbons would be continued explain fully why he was
singled out as the victim of assassination. He was not only identified
with the extreme Royalists, so odious to the people, but, with him out
of the way, it was only a question of time when the elder branch of the
dynasty would die out entirely, no more issue being expected from the
Duc d’Angoulême, who had been married already twenty years without
having children. Such were at least the considerations of the young man
who undertook the perilous task of killing the Duc de Berry, and who
fully accomplished his purpose.

This young man was Jean Pierre Louvel, a resident of Versailles, an
enthusiastic admirer of Napoleon, whom he considered the living
embodiment of the greatness and honor of France. Napoleon’s dethronement
he wanted to revenge on the Bourbons, in whose interest it had taken
place, and who, in his opinion, were utterly unworthy to rule over the
French nation. Louvel was a saddler, thirty-two years of age,
debilitated in appearance, and considered a political fanatic by all who
knew him. He had no family or relations except one sister, considerably
older than himself, who had brought him up, and with whom he lived. He
hated the Bourbons so intensely that in 1814, when the royal family
landed at Calais on their return from exile, he intended to make an
attempt on the life of Louis the Eighteenth; but the great enthusiasm of
the people discouraged him. During all these years his wrath against the
Bourbons had steadily grown, and he had never for a moment abandoned his
plan of killing the whole family,--first the Duc de Berry, then the Duc
d’Angoulême, then the Comte d’Artois, and finally the King. He
considered De Berry the most important and the most dangerous man of the
whole family because in him were centred the hopes of continuing the
dynasty.

He had been very persistent; he had found employment in the royal
stables at Versailles, and whenever the Duc de Berry was out hunting, he
tried to find an opportunity to get near him; he frequently went to
Paris and studied the advertisements of new plays or operas, expecting
that the Duke would attend a first performance. Twenty times he had been
close to him on such occasions, but had always been prevented by the
number of friends or attendants surrounding him from getting near enough
to stab him, and stab him so well that he could not escape; for
everything depended on making a success of the attempt.

After long and patient waiting he found his opportunity. It was during
the last days of the carnival preceding the season of Lent, in February,
1820. The grand masquerade ball at the opera was to take place on the
thirteenth, and it was a matter of absolute certainty that both the Duc
and the Duchesse de Berry, who were very fond of dancing, would attend
it. When Louvel got up and dressed, he had a joyful presentiment that
that day would bring him the realization of his long-cherished plan. He
had in his possession two daggers of very superior quality, both sharp
as razors and strong enough to penetrate flesh and sinew to the handle.
He had studied the human anatomy well enough to know exactly where to
strike his victim. He chose the smaller dagger of the two because he
could more easily conceal it; took his supper with good appetite and
without betraying unusual agitation; and then he started on his mission
of death. He was promptly at his post at eight o’clock when the carriage
of the Duc de Berry drove up to the private entrance reserved for the
members of the royal family. The Duke was not expected so early in the
evening, and consequently there were not so many attendants gathered
near the entrance. The Duke jumped out of the carriage, and held out his
arm to help the Duchess to alight. This was the proper moment for
Louvel, if he wanted to commit the crime. He was on the point of rushing
toward the Duke, when the smiling and lovely face of the Duchess
appeared in the light of the lantern, and this sight paralyzed the arm
of the murderer. He hesitated at the thought that his crime would plunge
these two happy persons into nameless misery, and before he had
recovered his equanimity, the Duke and his wife had disappeared behind
the entrance door of the theatre.

Louvel blamed himself for his faintness of heart and wanted to postpone
the deed to some later day; but the thought that he would have to go
back to Versailles in a few days and that no such opportunity might
offer itself for a long time, caused him to change his mind. That very
night his plan must be executed, and either the Duke or himself should
perish. For several hours he strolled through the streets in the
neighborhood of the Opera House, went to the garden of the Palais Royal
and back again, always keeping a watchful eye on the carriages that
stood waiting for the call of their owners. At twenty minutes past
eleven the carriage of the Duc de Berry drove up to the entrance door.
Louvel stood near by, almost hidden in the shadow of the wall, and
entirely unnoticed by the attendants of the royal equipage. He was not
kept waiting for a long time; for a little accident had occurred which
induced the Duchess to return much sooner than they had anticipated.
Their box at the Opera House was near that of the Duc and Duchesse
d’Orléans, who were also at the theatre that evening; the two families
were on terms of great intimacy, especially the two duchesses, both
being Neapolitan princesses. At one of the intermissions of the
performance De Berry and his wife went to the box of the Duc d’Orléans
for a friendly chat, but on their return to their own box, a door
opposite was quickly opened and struck the Duchess with such violence
that she felt very unwell. In her delicate condition (she was enceinte
at the time) she thought it would be better for her to return home than
to wait for the close of the performance and the masquerade ball. The
Duke therefore conducts his wife back to the carriage and lifts her into
it; the Comtesse de Bétysi, her lady of honor, takes her seat by her
side; the duke shakes hands with both ladies and with a smiling “_au
revoir_, I’ll be home soon,” steps back from the carriage. At this
moment Louvel rushes forward, lays his left hand on the duke’s right
shoulder and plunges his dagger with so much force into the Duke’s right
side that the weapon remains in the wound. The Duke, mortally wounded,
sinks to his knees, and utters a slight scream, more of surprise than of
pain. As is usually the case in such assaults, the victim had rather
felt the shock than the wound, and only when he reached out with his
hand to the spot where he had been hurt, he found the handle of the
dagger, and comprehended the meaning of the attack. He then cried out:
“I am struck to death, I have been assassinated!” and as he pulled the
dagger from the wound, a stream of blood gushed forth. The Duke fainted
in consequence of the loss of blood, and was carried back into the Opera
House, where the Duchess followed him with loud screams. In the first
confusion Louvel made his escape, but he was soon overtaken and brought
back to the scene of the murder. The excitement and the indignation of
the people were so great that he would have been torn to pieces but for
the active protection of the police and of the servants of the Duc de
Berry who were afraid that by his death his accomplices and accessories
to the crime might be shielded.

The most eminent surgeons of Paris were immediately summoned to the
assistance of the Prince. But the wound was fatal, and all their efforts
were in vain. In the presence of death the Duc de Berry showed a very
generous and magnanimous heart. He implored his wife, his brother, and
all others surrounding his bed to use their influence with the King to
get his murderer pardoned, and expressed his profound sorrow that he had
been stabbed by a Frenchman. Up to his last moment the thought that his
murderer would be executed in a cruel manner disturbed him, and when
toward morning the King came to bid him farewell, he repeated his
request that the murderer should be forgiven and not be executed; but
without eliciting the promise from his uncle. With this dying request
for the life of his murderer on his lips, he expired very early in the
morning.

The sensation which the assassination of the Duc de Berry created not
only in Paris, but throughout France and Europe, was enormous. All
parties equally condemned and lamented the crime. While the
ultra-Royalists deplored in the murder the extinction of all their hopes
for the establishment of the old Bourbon dynasty on a sure foundation,
the liberal parties foresaw that it would put an end to the liberal
tendencies of the government of Louis the Eighteenth. The sinister
forebodings of the liberals were only too well founded. The Royalists
tried at first to create the impression that the murder was but the
symptom of a widespread conspiracy organized by the revolutionary
elements of the kingdom against the royal family and the entire
nobility, and boldly charged the liberal policy of the government as
being the cause of it. In a session of the Chambers one of the deputies
went even so far as to move the impeachment of M. Decazes, Minister of
the Interior, as an accessory to the crime committed by Louvel. While
the Chambers refused to act upon this infamous motion, the entire
Royalistic press demanded the dismissal of Decazes, and the King
reluctantly yielded to the universal demand. “M. Decazes has slipped in
the blood shed by Louvel’s dagger,” wrote Chateaubriand in commenting on
the dismissal of the liberal minister. And that era of reaction and
repression commenced which ten years later ended in the dethronement of
the elder branch of the Bourbon dynasty and in the flight and exile of
Charles the Tenth. The entire liberal party was punished for the crime
of one fanatic.

Louvel was tried before the Chamber of Peers. He pleaded guilty. He
denied having any accomplices. He had conferred with nobody. He
recognized the dagger as his own; he gave his hatred and abhorrence of
the Bourbon family as his only motive for the crime. He was convicted
unanimously. He expressed no regret for what he had done, and died with
stoical indifference. He was guillotined June 7, 1820.



CHAPTER XXII

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

[Illustration: ABRAHAM LINCOLN]



CHAPTER XXII

ASSASSINATION OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN

(April 14, 1865)


In the annals of this nation no tragedy more pathetic has been recorded
than the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, President of the United
States.

The Civil War which had divided the country into two hostile camps for
four years and had laid waste the Southern States of the Union--or the
Confederate States of America, to designate them by the name they
adopted--was at an end. General Lee had surrendered the army of
Virginia, the flower of the Confederate fighting forces, to General
Grant at Appomattox Court House, and while General Johnston’s army in
North Carolina, and a few separate minor corps, still remained in the
field, Lee’s surrender was generally construed as the termination of the
long and cruel war, and joy ruled supreme throughout the North. Liberty
had triumphed, and four million slaves had been emancipated!

The surrender of Lee took place on the eighth of April, 1865. On the
following day President Lincoln visited the late capital of the
Confederacy. He traversed the city in all directions, and everywhere he
manifested the kindest disposition towards the South, and expressed the
wish that all traces of the unfortunate war should disappear as soon as
possible and that cordial relations between the two sections of the
country should be reëstablished at once. Very likely there was not a man
in all the Northern States happier at the prospect of a lasting peace
than Abraham Lincoln. His great and noble heart, sensitive as a woman’s,
had been bleeding for years at the sight of the gigantic fratricidal
war, of which Providence had made him the most conspicuous figure. But
five weeks before, he had entered upon his second presidential term, and
in his inaugural address he had foreshadowed the policy of leniency and
moderation which he intended to show to the “rebels” in case of the
final victory of the Union armies. That address revealed the true
inwardness of the great man; it was spoken with an eloquence peculiarly
his own; it was full of thought, sweetness, firmness, unswerving
fidelity to duty, high morality made more impressive even by the
simplicity and originality of language. At the same time it breathed a
tenderness for the vanquished which made it almost an olive-branch
tendered to those who were still in arms against the government and
inviting them to return to the hearthstones of the nation of which they
had been the favored sons and daughters for nearly a century. Although
the triumph of the Union and its armies was already in sight as an event
of the near future, nothing in that address indicated boastfulness and
supercilious pride. No arrogance, no pompous reference to the
superiority of the North in heroism or exploits! On the contrary, the
President humbles himself before the decrees of the Almighty, he
confesses the great national crime and the justice of the immense
punishment.

In the tone of sadness pervading the beautiful oration there is almost
the presentiment of death and that supreme resignation which sometimes
takes possession of the soul on the verge of the grave. Already he had
planned a proclamation of pardon,--a general amnesty, excluding none, a
full and complete restoration of concord and brotherhood between the
North and the South, when all at once the terrible news “Lincoln has
been assassinated! Lincoln is dead!” flashed over the telegraph wires
and filled the whole North with terror. As if nothing was to be wanting
to make this gigantic Civil War a tragedy to both sides, the man whose
very name was the embodiment of liberty and the symbol of emancipation,
and who more than any other man had contributed to the great triumph,
had to succumb at the moment of victory. The election of Abraham Lincoln
had given the signal for the organization and outbreak of the
slaveholders’ rebellion, and it was certainly a remarkable coincidence
that the tolling of the church-bells in towns and cities through which
Lincoln’s funeral train slowly wended its way from the capital to his
Western home was heard simultaneously with the news of the collapse of
that rebellion and of the final extinction of human slavery on American
soil. This coincidence was almost providential, and if the great
Emancipator could have chosen his own time for his death, he certainly
could not have made a more appropriate and glorious choice. He became,
so to speak, the hero of the great epic of the Civil War--one of the
greatest the world had seen,--and his tragical death marked the
conclusion of the strife. In the eyes of the fanatical advocates of the
Southern cause Abraham Lincoln had always held this prominent position
as the principal author of the feud dividing the North and the South,
and it is therefore not surprising that some of these fanatics had
formed a conspiracy to assassinate him and some of his most intimate
advisers. About a week after Mr. Lincoln’s visit at Richmond this plot
was to be executed.

On the fourteenth of April, 1865, an especially brilliant performance
was to be given at Ford’s Theatre, Washington, and Mr. Lincoln, General
Grant, and Mr. Stanton, Secretary of War, were expected to be present;
in fact, the Washington newspapers of that date had announced that they
would be present. But at the very last moment General Grant was
compelled to leave Washington and go North. Mr. Stanton, being
overburdened with business and unable to find time to go to the theatre,
remained at his office, and only Mr. Lincoln went, accompanied by Mrs.
Lincoln and a few friends. His appearance was the signal for a grand
ovation. He seemed to follow the presentation of the play with close
attention and great interest. The third act had just commenced, when the
audience was startled by the sound of a pistol-shot proceeding from the
President’s box. At the same moment a man appeared in the foreground of
that box, jumped upon the balustrade, and thence down to the stage,
shouting, “_Sic semper tyrannis!_” In leaping from the box, one of the
man’s spurs got entangled with the flag with which Mr. Lincoln’s box was
decorated. He fell and broke a leg, but immediately recovering himself
and getting on his feet he had sufficient presence of mind and power of
will to make his escape. He knocked down those who tried to stop him,
ran through the aisles of the scenery, jumped upon a horse which was
kept in readiness for him by an accomplice, and disappeared in the
darkness of the night.

This man, who with lightning-like rapidity had appeared on the stage and
disappeared from it, was the murderer of Abraham Lincoln; and the murder
had been committed so suddenly that the great majority of the audience,
even after his flight, were in profound ignorance of what had happened.
It was then only that the cries of horror, the loud lamentations of Mrs.
Lincoln and of the other persons in the President’s box conveyed to the
awe-stricken audience the news of the tragedy which had occurred in
their midst. The President, shot through the head from behind, had lost
consciousness immediately, and the blood oozed slowly from the wound.
However, life was not extinct, and immediately the hope arose that Mr.
Lincoln’s life might be saved. He was carried into a neighboring house,
and the best surgeons were called to his assistance. But alas! the
murderer’s ball having passed through the cerebellum had pierced the
cerebrum, and the wound was fatal beyond all hope. Mr. Lincoln died
early in the morning without having regained consciousness. The North
had lost its greatest citizen and the South its best friend.

       *       *       *       *       *

While this murder was being committed at Ford’s Theatre, another
assassin entered the residence of Secretary of State William H. Seward,
who had been seriously injured by an accident a few days before. The
assassin pretended to be the bearer of a medical prescription, and
demanded to be admitted to the room of the patient. The servant refused
to admit him, but was rudely pushed aside, whereupon the visitor, who
evidently was familiar with the location of the rooms, burst into the
one where Mr. Seward was lying ill in bed, rushed toward him, seriously
wounded Mr. Seward’s son, who threw himself in his way, and thereupon
engaged the invalid in a furious combat, stabbing him several times. In
spite of his disability, the Secretary defended himself bravely and
fought with the courage of despair, until at last the assassin, after
having badly cut and disfigured his face, made his escape.

As has been stated already, the plan of the conspirators was to kill not
only President Lincoln, but other prominent men, such as Andrew Johnson,
the new Vice-President, Secretary Seward, Secretary Stanton, and General
Grant. On several occasions the assassins had been on the point of
perpetrating these murders, but always unforeseen circumstances had
occurred and prevented them. At last this gala performance at Ford’s
Theatre seemed to invite them to execute their plot, and they resolved
to assassinate Lincoln, Grant, and Stanton at the theatre, and Seward
and Johnson at their private residences. By removing these five men the
assassins hoped to decapitate the republic itself and imagined that very
likely during the terror and confusion which these assassinations would
cause, the Southern rebels would take up arms again and capture
Washington city. But only one of the five victims designated was
killed--alas! it was the most illustrious one of the five--while the
others escaped owing to fortuitous circumstances.

As to the murderer of Lincoln, who was identified as John Wilkes Booth,
it was ascertained that he had been inspired by an implacable and
sincere fanaticism. Son of a celebrated English tragedian who had lived
several years in the United States, John Wilkes Booth was himself an
actor of considerable ability, who had frequently played on the very
stage which he was to desecrate by one of the most infamous
assassinations of modern times. Young, handsome, eloquent, and audacious
as he was, Booth had a certain prestige among his companions and great
success with the ladies of his profession. He was an enthusiastic
Democrat, became a prominent member of the “Knights of the Golden
Circle,” and believed in the divine origin of the institution of
slavery. He had been among the lynchers of John Brown and frequently
boasted of his participation in that crime. He often expressed the wish
that all such abolitionists should die on the gallows. He and some
others, equally extreme in their views on the slavery question, met
frequently at the house of a Mrs. Surratt, who was also fanatically
devoted to the Southern cause, and concocted there the plot to murder
the President and his associates.

After having performed that part of the plot which he had reserved for
himself--the assassination of the President--with almost incredible
boldness, Booth fled to Virginia. He had intended to continue his flight
until he had reached the extreme South, and possibly Mexico, but his
injury prevented him from carrying out this plan. In company with one of
his accomplices he hid himself in an isolated barn on the banks of the
Rappahannock, hoping that as soon as the first storm of indignation had
blown over, the search for the murderer would gradually relax, if not
cease altogether, and that he would then have an opportunity to escape.
But in this calculation he was mistaken. A roving detachment of federal
soldiers discovered him in his hiding-place, during the night of the
twenty-sixth of April. His companion, realizing that all resistance
would be useless, surrendered immediately. But Booth wanted to sell his
life as dearly as possible. He tried to break out and escape from his
pursuers, but a pistol-shot brought him down with a fatal wound in his
head, from which he soon afterwards died. The assassin who had assaulted
and seriously wounded Secretary Seward had, a few days before, been
captured at Mrs. Surratt’s house.

The effect of Mr. Lincoln’s assassination on the people of the North was
indescribable. It filled their hearts with bitterness and their minds
with thoughts of revenge. It was averred that the murderer in crossing
the stage of the theatre and defiantly brandishing a long knife had
exclaimed: “The South is avenged!” This exclamation seemed to implicate
the whole South, or at least its government, in the murderous act of
Booth. The natural consequence was that the people of the North, who
immediately after the surrender of Lee’s army were inclined to great
leniency toward the vanquished and willing to receive them back into the
Union with open arms, suddenly turned against them. The army and the
government circles, and in fact the entire population of the national
capital, who had learned to love Mr. Lincoln, demanded the most severe
punishment for the rebels. Then began the long and tedious work of
reconstruction, retarded by party spirit and retaliatory measures on
both sides. It was terminated to the satisfaction of both only during
the last few years, when the sons of the South fought shoulder to
shoulder with the sons of the North for the deliverance of Cuba from
Spanish oppression under the glorious banner of the Union. But how
often during these years of contention, was the great man missed whose
truly humane spirit would have contributed so much to bring the
discordant elements of both sections together in fraternal harmony and
mutual respect, and whose hands had penned the noblest document of the
nineteenth century--the proclamation of emancipation--setting free four
million slaves. Such deeds as his can never be forgotten.

The assassination did a great deal for Mr. Lincoln’s standing in
history. It added the halo of martyrdom to his renown as a statesman,
and it has made him a national hero, who, next to Washington--or with
Washington--holds the highest place in the estimation of the American
people. It is doubtful whether Abraham Lincoln, if he had not crowned
his career with a martyr’s death, would have held this place. It had
especially the effect of wiping out an impression which many had formed
of Mr. Lincoln’s character, and which, during the first years of his
presidential term, lowered him considerably in the eyes of the people.
His Southern enemies and detractors made a great deal of Mr. Lincoln’s
“undignified bearing,” his “lack of tact,” “his mania for telling funny
stories, in and out of season,” and the Northern Democrats were only too
busy repeating and circulating these stories, because they could not
forgive Lincoln for having beaten their idol, Stephen Arnold Douglas.

Mr. Lincoln’s distinction was his strong originality and self-reliance.
As a young man, with no adviser to guide him through the hardships and
embarrassments of life, he took counsel with his own mind, which
fortunately was of peculiar depth, rich in resources,--and the advice he
received from this consultation, the instruction he gained by this
appeal to the fund of his own knowledge and experience served him
splendidly as schooling for the task which was in store for him. And
joined to this self-education nature had bestowed on him some of her
rarest gifts,--humor, kind, genial, and peculiarly humane, blending
tears with laughter, and a mother-wit always ready to make fun of his
own misfortunes and shortcomings, and to joke away any embarrassing
situation in which either untoward circumstances or his own mistakes
might have placed him. In addition to all this he possessed that truly
American characteristic--shrewdness, which far from being an
objectionable quality with him, was modified by his kindness of heart
and his moral uprightness.

In that great and distinctly English book, Robinson Crusoe, we find a
young Englishman in consequence of a shipwreck thrown upon a deserted
island in midocean. He is cut off from civilization and its resources
and thrown upon his own ingenuity to carve out a living for himself
which, to a degree at least, comes up to the experience which he has had
while living in civilized society. A few tools and instruments which he
saves from the wrecked ship are the only things to assist him in the
building up of his future life, yet by industry, shrewdness, and
perseverance he really succeeds in making that life not only tolerable,
but to a degree comfortable. Possibly the trying circumstances in which
young Robinson was placed whetted and sharpened his wits, strengthened
his nerve, and inspired him with enough confidence to become equal to
his difficult task; at all events, he succeeded, and the book narrating
his experience, his trials, and his sufferings forms one of the most
delightful and at the same time one of the most instructive books for
young and old ever written. Its educational value can hardly be
overestimated. It may be said that Robinson Crusoe is but a novel, and
that his adventures and achievements all originated in the fertile mind
of Daniel Defoe. But even if it was so, which is by no means proven, the
feat of Defoe’s genius shows that a young man of strong character and
full of resources, with an ideal placed before his mental eye, can find
the means to raise himself to a higher level than he could have reached
under ordinary circumstances and without the stimulating influence of
personal hardships and pressing necessity.

It was so with Abraham Lincoln. The means of education which the wild
West offered to him were of the most elementary kind, but his innate
genius and energy knew how to make them serviceable to the high aim and
to the ideals which he had proposed to himself. The loneliness of the
primeval forests in which his childhood was passed fostered the tendency
to reverie and thoughtfulness which formed one of the principal traits
of his character. An American boy in the full meaning of the word he
learned to love and appreciate that Union from which the West expected
its development, and on which it depended as on the natural source of
its future greatness. As if to prepare him for the great part he was to
act in American history, he was made to see at an early day the wrongs
and cruelties of slavery. His pure mind, which had been strengthened and
refined by immediate contact with nature, felt the stain which soiled
the American name and flag. As he went down the Mississippi river on a
flatboat and became witness of a slave-auction, where family ties were
brutally torn asunder, he vowed to himself to do his share as a man and
citizen to wipe out that wrong against humanity. How nobly he redeemed
that vow and how cruelly he suffered for redeeming it, we have told in
the preceding pages, and the crown of immortality is his just reward.

If we should wish to compare the great martyr-president with any
historical personage of preceding ages, it would be Henry the Fourth of
France. While unquestionably there are many differences in their traits
of character, they have nevertheless so many traits in common that the
comparison is, in our opinion, a decidedly just one. Both were placed in
leading positions at a time when their country was torn up by civil war.
In the case of Henry the Fourth religion, or rather Protestantism, was
the cause of the fratricidal strife; in the case of Abraham Lincoln it
was negro slavery. Both were enlisted in the cause of humanity and
progress. It is true, Henry the Fourth renounced Protestantism to win a
crown, in the possession of which he alone could hope to render immortal
service to the Protestant Church and the principle upon which it is
founded, religious toleration; and by the promulgation of the Edict of
Nantes he gloriously performed the historical task which Providence had
allotted to him. Abraham Lincoln was willing to make any sacrifice for
the maintenance of the American Union, for only as President of the
United States and as conqueror of the rebellious South, could he hope to
become the champion of the abolition of negro slavery. He was fortunate
enough to live through the gigantic Civil War, and Clio, the Muse, of
History, has entered in imperishable letters on the asbestos leaves of
our national annals his immortal declaration of the emancipation of the
black race. As two great reformers they will both live in
history,--Henry the Fourth, as the embodiment of the principle of
religious toleration, Lincoln as the evangelist of negro emancipation.
It is a strange coincidence that these two great men were endowed by
nature with so many analogous traits, but rarely found in other great
men. Both had a keen relish for humor, fun, and wit, and indulged this
taste under the most trying circumstances; both were lenient and
forgiving to a fault; both displayed statesmanship and executive ability
of a high order; and if Henry the Fourth has won greater laurels as a
warrior, Lincoln has crowned his great life with the glory of being a
great orator. Mankind has grown better by having produced these two
men.



CHAPTER XXIII

ALEXANDER THE SECOND OF RUSSIA

[Illustration: ALEXANDER II.]



CHAPTER XXIII

ASSASSINATION OF ALEXANDER THE SECOND OF RUSSIA

(March 13, 1881)


The assassination of Abraham Lincoln leads up to that of the other great
emancipator of the nineteenth century, Alexander the Second of Russia,
which occurred on the thirteenth of March, 1881, and which filled the
world with horror.

In one of Goethe’s most famous poems a magician’s apprentice, in the
absence of his learned master, sets free the secret powers of nature
which his master can control by a magical formula. The apprentice has
overheard the formula, and has appropriated it to his own use; but lo!
when the apprentice wants to get rid of the powers he has let loose, he
has forgotten the magic words by which to banish them, and miserably
perishes in the attempt. The poem is symbolical of the life and
experience of Czar Alexander the Second of Russia. As a young man,
enthusiastic and desirous to promote his country’s welfare, he set loose
the turbulent and revolutionary powers slumbering in his gigantic
empire, and they grew to such enormous proportions that even his power,
great though it was, was insufficient to curb them; finally he paid with
his life for his attempt to confer blessings upon his subjects. In
order to comprehend the difficulties which confronted Alexander the
Second on his accession, it is necessary to take a retrospect of the
preceding reign.

The Emperor Nicholas the First died on the second of March, 1855. He had
reigned twenty-nine years and nine months. During all these years he had
ruled his gigantic empire with an iron hand and had stood before the
world as the most brilliant as well as the most imperious ruler who had
sat upon the throne of the Czars since the death of Peter the Great. He
was the model for the other sovereigns of Europe, and his policy was
adopted with almost servile humility by the monarchs of Austria and
Prussia, the former of whom he reinstated on his throne by overthrowing
the Hungarian revolution, while the latter was allied to him by ties of
marriage. His dislike for reform and “the modern spirit” was caused, it
is said, by the sad experience he had made but a few weeks after his
accession, when a rebellion of the Imperial Guards in his own capital
compelled him to throw shot and shell into his own regiments, and to
quell a widespread conspiracy by the severest measures. At that time
cheers coming from the ranks for “Constantine and the Constitution” had
made the very name of a constitution odious to him. He might not have
taken the demonstration so seriously if he had known that the soldiers,
on being asked by their officers to cheer for Constantine and the
Constitution had asked: “Who is the Constitution?” and were told that
she was Constantine’s wife, whereupon the soldiers cheered lustily. At
all events, Nicholas, who had intended to introduce a number of Western
reforms, took suddenly a great aversion to anything which deviated in
the least from the most autocratic form of government; he punished the
slightest disagreement in political opinion or the most timid opposition
to his imperial will as an act of rebellion. The whole system of
government had been fashioned upon a half Asiatic, half European model;
it combined the absolute--almost divine--power of the Oriental ruler
with a formidable and well-drilled bureaucracy blindly obedient to the
Czar and knowing no other law than his will.

Nicholas the First was a man of superior intelligence, of indomitable
will, and of great vigor of mind, which enabled him to pay strict
attention to the different departments of the public service. His most
effective instrument was the third section of the Czar’s personal
bureau,--a secret political police by which he overawed the empire and
whose very name caused terror in the heart and home of every Russian
family. Whosoever was unfortunate enough to fall under the suspicion of
this terrible Hermandad--more cruel and more vindictive than the Spanish
Inquisition--might just as well resign himself at once to his
fate,--life-long exile to Siberia or a secret execution, most probably
by strangulation, in one of the prisons of Russia. It was the office of
this secret police, which reported directly to the Emperor, not only to
ferret out crime and bring criminals to justice, but to protect the
subjects of the Czar from contact with hurtful foreign influences, to
confiscate books and newspapers from abroad, to open and read letters,
and to learn family secrets which might be used against the
correspondents or their friends. Everything, in fact, which the imperial
government could think of to cut off Russia from the current of
European ideas, to prevent its subjects from receiving a liberal
education at the universities, to expand their minds by travelling
abroad, to become familiar with the great political and philosophical
questions of the day by a study of literature and newspapers, was done
with rigorous care by the police and approved by the Czar.

Occasionally the Emperor became indignant at the venality and corruption
of high public officials; but he did not see that this venality and
corruption were but the logical consequence of the system of despotism
and Byzantinism which his will imposed even on the highest members of
the aristocracy. His smile, his praise, was the highest distinction, the
highest aim of the ambition of the aristocracy, and for this servile
subjection to the imperial will they compensated themselves by unbridled
licentiousness and beastly excesses, and by robbing the public treasury.
Because it was well known that the Emperor looked with suspicion on the
universities as nurseries of liberal or revolutionary ideas, the
nobility did not send their sons thither, for fear that the young men
might become infected with these ideas, and that transportation to
Siberia might suddenly interrupt their studies. The nobility, therefore,
deemed it more prudent to send the lads to court or to the military
schools, where they were safe at least from the contagion of European
liberalism. It is really a wonder that, with such an organization of
society and with a system of police surveillance perhaps never equalled
in the world, with a Damocles’ sword always suspended over their heads,
there still remained a number of liberal-minded men, who never abandoned
the hope of better days, never renounced their dream that the time would
come for Russia, as it had come for western Europe, to enter socially
and politically the family of enlightened nations, blessed with liberal
institutions and freed from the despotism of semi-Oriental rulers. These
liberal-minded men and true patriots--professors of the universities,
literary men, and a very small number of young noblemen--lived mostly at
Moscow, where the distance from the observing eye of the ruler and his
court saved them from detection, although their secret influence
pervaded the whole empire, and kept the flame of liberalism burning in
the hearts of the intellectual élite. While Nicholas had thus succeeded
in building up an Eastern despotism on the banks of the Neva, he
endeavored at the same time to impress Europe with the idea of his
unrivalled power. His army was considered one of the best in Europe, and
the immense population of his empire--larger than that of any two of the
other great powers--gave him almost unlimited material for recruits. The
generals commanding these armies were also renowned throughout Europe.
They had won their laurels in the battles against the revolutionary
armies of Poland and Hungary, in conquering the warlike population of
the Caucasus, and subjecting large territories in western Asia to the
white eagle of the Czar. The Russian diplomats had the reputation of
being the shrewdest in Europe, and had either by secret treaties or by
matrimonial alliances succeeded in making Russian influence preponderant
on the continent of Europe. The Emperor Nicholas stood, therefore, on a
commanding height when he provoked the great western powers of Europe,
together with Turkey, to mortal combat. It was a challenge born in
arrogance and political short-sightedness, and it found its deserved
rebuke in a total defeat of the Russian armies and a thorough
humiliation of the Russian Emperor. Nicholas ought to have known that,
in engaging in war with the western powers, he not only endangered his
military prestige, but put to the test also his system of domestic
administration, based entirely on his autocratic will, and silently,
although reluctantly, submitted to by his subjects, as a tribute to his
dominant position in Europe. When by the disasters of the Crimean War
that position was lost, when it became clear to the Russian people that
the Emperor was not absolutely the universal dictator of Europe, not
only his military prestige was destroyed, but his system of domestic
government lost immensely in public estimation. Nicholas felt this
double humiliation so keenly that it was just as much personal chagrin
as physical disease which caused his death even before the war was over.

It was therefore a heavy burden which his successor, Alexander the
Second, assumed when he ascended the throne on the second of March,
1855. His first duty--and it was a painful and humiliating duty--was to
terminate the Crimean War by accepting the unfavorable terms demanded by
the western powers. In the exhausted condition of the Russian treasury,
and after the disorganization of the Russian armies by a series of
disastrous defeats, nothing was left to the young Czar but to submit to
the inevitable. In doing so he also signed the sentence of death of the
autocratic rule established by his father. A general clamor for reform,
for greater freedom and more liberal laws arose, and Alexander the
Second was only too willing to grant them. He was liberal-minded himself
and kind-hearted, and he was anxious to let the Russian nation partake
of the progress of European civilization. He opened the Russian
universities to all who desired a higher education. He reduced to a
reasonable rate the price for passports, which had been enormous under
Nicholas, he rescinded the burdensome press laws, and modified the law
subjecting all publications to a most rigorous government supervision;
he issued an amnesty to Siberian exiles, including many who had been
banished for political crimes; and he finally crowned this system of
liberal measures by the emancipation of many million serfs, freeing them
from their previous condition of territorial bondage and placing them
directly under government authority. Important changes were also made in
the personnel of the different departments of the public service; a
thorough investigation of these departments proved that the grossest
abuses existed throughout the empire. The army magazines were filled
with chalk instead of flour, and officers who had been dead for twenty
years still remained on the pension lists. Numerous other frauds and
depredations were disclosed, which were eating up the public revenues,
and which had been practised for years by high officials who had enjoyed
the protection of the late Czar. The reforms which Alexander the Second
introduced did not find favor with the officials, and the emancipation
of the serfs fully estranged the nobility, whose interests were damaged
by the loss of their slaves. The Czar therefore soon found himself
between two fires: the Liberals were immoderate in their demands for
still greater liberty, and the nobility attacked the government for
having granted those liberal measures, predicting that the new policy
would terminate in disaster, revolution, and assassination.

It should not be supposed, however, that Alexander was liberal-minded
in the American sense of the word; he was not,--not even as liberalism
is understood in the western states of Europe. What he tried to be
during the first years of his reign was a liberal-minded autocrat like
Frederick the Great of Prussia and Joseph the Second of Austria; but the
slightest attempt to limit his authority by any constitution he resented
as a personal insult. When the landed proprietors of the province of
Tver sent him a petition worded in the most humble language, in which
their desire for a constitution was expressed, he flew into a rage, and
sent the two leaders of the meeting to Siberia. But he was inclined to
grant as a personal favor what some of his subjects demanded as their
right, which they wanted guaranteed by law. The system of police
espionage and persecution ceased, because Alexander hated police
denunciations. This change had almost immediately its marked effect on
public life; the people commenced breathing easier. The nightmare of
Siberian exile or perpetual imprisonment ceased haunting their minds.

After a few years Russian society seemed to have changed its character,
its ideas, its manners; it showed its independence openly, and acted as
though its liberties and rights were safely secured by a magna charta or
constitution. Many thousands of Russian noblemen went to France and
England, no longer simply to amuse themselves and to live well, but to
study western institutions or to place their sons in the colleges; and
no nationality has a greater faculty of assimilation than the Russian.
The ideas of central and western Europe found ready and intelligent
reception in their minds. Hundreds of newspapers, periodicals, and
magazines were founded, and most of them found numerous and eager
readers. Some of these papers became a real power and shaped public
opinion to a remarkable degree. While direct criticism of Russian
affairs and Russian institutions was prohibited, the newspapers
nevertheless found a way to keep their readers posted on all public
events and public men. They published sketches of every-day life in
which every particular was true except the names, and in this human
comedy, scarcely veiled by the transparent fiction, the governors of
provinces, the generals of the army, and especially the directors of the
police, and all the high government officials were exhibited in their
true character; their frauds were exposed, their arbitrary actions,
their abuses of power, and their excesses were denounced. The reading
public were in the secret, and the daily and weekly newspapers became a
regular _chronique scandaleuse_ without subjecting the editors or
publishers to prosecution.

While these periodicals, published in Russia under the very eyes of the
Czar and of Russian censors, did their share in undermining the
authority of the government, there was another class of Russian
periodicals, published at Paris, London, and Leipsic, which were free
from the embarrassing observation of Russian censors, and which
consequently could speak openly, mention names, attack high officials
and the imperial family. The most famous of the editors of these
periodicals (which were printed abroad, but had nearly their entire
reading public in Russia) was Alexander Herzen, the famous editor and
publisher of “The Bell” (Kolokos). Mr. Herzen was a man of great talent,
and his newspaper soon gained an influence in Russia which became a real
danger to the government. “The Bell” did more for the spread of
socialism in Russia than all other publications combined. It was more
active and more successful than all other newspapers in showing up the
official wrong-doers of the empire and breeding among the masses
contempt for the government and its officers, because every Russian who
could read, read “The Bell,” and got his information about Russian
affairs from Alexander Herzen. The mystery always was: How did “The
Bell” get into Russia? since the government made a most relentless war
on the paper. Nobody could ever tell; the most searching investigations
of the secret police failed to discover the mysterious channel through
which the dangerous paper found its way into Russia. As soon as it had
crossed the frontier, secret printing establishments, unknown to the
police, struck off many thousand copies and circulated them gratuitously
throughout the empire. It was evident that a socialistic or
revolutionary committee was identified with its circulation in Russia.

But the most notable result brought about by “The Bell” was the change
of attitude in which the Russian government was placed, and (since the
government was the Czar) the attitude in which the Czar suddenly found
himself toward his subjects. The imperial government, under Nicholas,
has been bold and aggressive; under Alexander the Second it was placed
on the defensive; it was compelled to plead with public opinion in order
to clear itself of the attacks made against it, and when these pleas
failed to convince, it resorted again to the old repressive and despotic
measures which were even more odious from having become obsolete for a
number of years. Autocracy, which in the hands of a strong man like
Nicholas the First had been a source of strength and protection, became
in the hands of a weak and vacillating man a source of weakness and
danger. Public opinion, which under Nicholas had been silent, because it
dared not assert itself, turned openly against Alexander, who had
removed the bars which kept it in check and the fear which repressed its
utterances.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is time here to refer shortly to the origin and growth of a political
doctrine which at this time appeared in Russia and which has had a great
and pernicious influence on Russian history,--Nihilism. The name appears
for the first time in the famous novel of Ivan Turgenieff, “Fathers and
Sons,” and designates a political programme which has found its most
numerous and most enthusiastic adherents among the young men and women
of Russia, especially of the educated and professional classes, the
students and professors of the universities. It first manifested its
existence shortly after the death of the Emperor Nicholas, when, through
the liberal measures of his successor, the high schools and academies of
the empire were opened to the people, when the universities were filled
with thousands of young students, eager to learn and imbibe
philosophical and political principles which until then had been unknown
to them. The Nihilistic party aimed at a total regeneration of society
and at the destruction of its present organization in state, church, and
social institutions, and it found its explanation and excuse in the
widespread corruption, brutality, and despotism of the officials. It is
a mistake to confound the Nihilists with the Liberals or even with the
Socialists who are advocating reforms or the abolition of certain
political or social abuses. The Nihilists are not aiming at reforms;
they simply demand the overthrow and complete annihilation of the
existing social system with all its institutions, until nothing (nihil)
remains standing. The reconstruction of society, based upon principles
of reason and justice, is their ideal; but they leave the realization of
this ideal to future generations, and advocate for the present the
employment of all means, even the most reprehensible, for the attainment
of their immediate aim. The originators and great apostles of the new
party were Alexander Herzen and Bakúnin, who imbued the young persons of
both sexes with an implacable hatred for the present system of
government and social organization. They made not only despotism but all
authority odious.

The first public manifestation of Nihilism was Karakasow’s attempt on
the life of Alexander the Second in 1866. It failed, and at the trial it
appeared that the attempt was not founded on individual hostility, but
on abhorrence of authority in general. The attempt on the life of
General Trepow, minister of police, in 1878, showed the dangerous and
rapid progress which the party had made. The assailant was an educated
young woman, Vera Sassoulitch, who wanted to revenge official injustice
by punishing one of its most prominent representatives. She was
acquitted by a jury at St. Petersburg on February 5, 1878; and this
acquittal, brought about by the ostentatious manifestation of the
sympathy of the higher classes during her trial, caused a sensation
throughout Europe. The Czar himself was enraged at the result of the
trial, and devoted himself to the extermination of Nihilism by all means
in his power. The issue had then been dearly made. Nihilism had by that
time become very aggressive. It was no longer satisfied with preaching a
philosophical doctrine, but it openly advocated a policy of murder and
incendiarism, in order to frighten and disorganize society, and
especially public officials. On the other hand, the government resorted
to the most rigorous measures to exterminate the Nihilists wherever they
could be found.

Alexander the Second suffered terribly when he became aware, too late
for him to master it, of the new intellectual movement and its political
results in his empire. The situation was the more painful to him,
because his own conscience as well as the old Russian party held him
principally responsible for it. It was he who had set free that liberal
propagandism which had culminated in this terrible agitation for the
destruction of society, and which had entirely outgrown his control.
Alexander’s mental condition, on this discovery, would form an
interesting subject for the psychologist. From the day when he began to
reign as an enthusiastic, well-intentioned man of thirty-seven, to the
days of his disappointments as a ruler and reformer, ending with one of
the most terrible catastrophes of modern times, his career challenges,
for adequate treatment, the genius of a Shakespeare. No wonder that he
became despondent and thought of abdication,--a thought which reappeared
with ever increasing force to the end of his reign.

Nor was this feeling of discouragement and weariness of life caused
exclusively by the fear of personal danger; on the contrary, Alexander
knew only too well that he was not the only object of Nihilistic
persecution, but that all those dear to his heart and also those whom he
honored with his confidence and friendship were equally exposed.

The attempt on the life of General Trepow had still another effect on
the Czar. It effectually eradicated from his mind his previous
predilection for liberal reforms and a paternal government; it stirred
up a feeling of resentment and hatred against revolutionists, reformers,
and liberals which had never been noticed in him before, and which
manifested itself in the most severe measures of repression. To his
great chagrin he saw soon that these measures were utterly unavailing to
repress the spirit of rebellion in the empire and in his own capital.
Nihilism spread with the unconquerable fury of a contagious epidemic and
defied all measures of the authorities to check it. On the twenty-first
of February, 1879, Prince Krapotkine, Governor of Charkow, was
assassinated; and shortly after, attempts were made on the lives of
General Drentelen, a great favorite at court, and of Count Lewis
Melikow, Secretary of the Interior.

       *       *       *       *       *

Alexander himself was exposed to a number of murderous attempts. His
escape from the one made by Alexander Sokoloff, a school-teacher of
Toropetz, in the district of Pskoff, is almost miraculous. On the
fourteenth of April, 1879, at nine o’clock in the morning, the Emperor,
seated in an open carriage, was waiting in front of the palace of Prince
Gortschakoff, his Secretary of State. Sokoloff approached the carriage
without having been noticed by the attendants. He was well dressed, wore
a military cap, and looked like a retired officer. Standing within a few
feet of Alexander, he suddenly pulled forth from under his coat a
revolver, and, in rapid succession, fired four shots at him, all of
which, however, missed their aim. The would-be murderer was immediately
overpowered by the Emperor’s attendants; but during the struggle he
fired a fifth shot which severely wounded one of the servants. Sokoloff
had two capsules containing poison, fastened with wax under his armpits.
He succeeded in swallowing one of them before he could be prevented, but
an antidote was immediately administered and saved his life. He was
sentenced to death and executed without having confessed the motive of
his assault or given the names of any accomplices.

After this attempt the most vigorous and ingenious measures were taken
for the Emperor’s protection. When, in the summer of the same year,
Alexander travelled from St. Petersburg to Livadia, he was taken to the
depot in an iron carriage and escorted by four companies of cavalry.
Moreover the depot was surrounded by several regiments of infantry and
cavalry, and nobody was permitted to approach it. Similar measures of
precaution had been taken at all railway stations along the route where
the imperial train was expected to stop. At all railroad crossings
police officers and detectives had been stationed to prevent even the
possibility of a collision with the imperial train. Another train filled
entirely with the body-guards and high police officials preceded, at a
short distance, the Emperor and his family. A large detective force was
stationed along the whole route, and scoured the country for miles on
both sides of the railroad, making it impossible for anybody to approach
the track without being closely observed. At night, the entire route was
lit up on either side with immense bonfires built at short distances in
order to make the surveillance of the road as complete during the night
as during the day. In order not to delay the imperial train on the road,
all other trains were stopped for days, and the most stringent orders
were issued that no persons should approach either the depots or any
part of the railroad.

That travelling under such circumstances was not a pleasure, and would
make a man exceedingly nervous, if not absolutely ill, may well be
imagined. But in spite of these and other precautions almost passing
human belief, a new attempt on the Emperor’s life was made during his
return trip from Livadia to Moscow. On the first of December, 1879,
Alexander had arrived at Moscow safely; but about ten or fifteen minutes
later a mine exploded, which had been established under the railroad
track in the immediate vicinity of the depot. The explosion occurred at
the moment when the second imperial train was passing. It demolished the
baggage car and threw seven or eight passenger cars off the track.
Fortunately nobody was seriously hurt. The Emperor and his suite were on
the first train this time, while the Nihilists had supposed they would
be on the second.

Less than three months later, on the seventeenth of February, 1880, the
Czar was in much greater danger at St. Petersburg. At about seven
o’clock P.M., on that day, as he was on the point of entering the
dining-room of his palace, suddenly a terrible dynamite explosion
occurred underneath the hall occupied by the Imperial Guards. The
explosion was so violent that all the windows in that wing of the palace
were shattered, the ceilings of the rooms in the lower story and of the
hall of the guards were full of holes, and the floors torn to pieces,
while the tables and the dishes in the imperial dining-room were hurled
in all directions. Eight soldiers and two servants of the imperial
household were killed, while forty-five were more or less seriously
wounded.

This new attempt on his life, with the attending number of victims,
impressed the Czar’s mind so deeply that it brought on a new attack of
melancholy which his physicians were powerless to subdue. Domestic
troubles added to his mental depression, and caused apprehensions of a
total collapse of his mental faculties. His general health had also
greatly suffered from the long continued strain of his nervous system.
In June, 1880, his wife died after a lingering illness. She was a
princess of Hesse-Darmstadt, very handsome and highly accomplished when
he married her, in 1841. But the marriage was not a happy one. For quite
a number of years the Czar carried on a liaison with the beautiful
Princess Dolgorouki, and shortly after the death of the Empress he
contracted a morganatic marriage with her, in spite of the energetic
protests of the Czarowitz and his other children. The Princess had great
influence over Alexander’s decisions as a ruler; and when he seemed to
have made up his mind to abdicate and retire to private life, she
prevented the consummation of this design by her emphatic protests.
Alexander had formed the plan to transfer the crown to his son, but only
on one condition: that the Princess, his wife, should always be treated
by the imperial family with the same consideration as the deceased
Empress, and that her children should also be treated as brothers and
sisters by the Czar. But when he informed the Princess of this plan, she
flew into a passion, rejected the proposition most angrily, saying that
she knew the feelings of the Czarowitz toward her too well to place any
confidence in his promises, and demanded, as a proof of his affection
for her, that Alexander should forever renounce his plan of abdication.
Alexander therefore remained, much against his own inclination, on the
throne until the day of his death, the thirteenth of March, 1881.

On the forenoon of that day he returned from the residence of the
Princess to the Winter Palace, driving along the St. Michael’s Canal. He
was escorted by a small detachment of cavalry and an adjutant of the
Director of Police. About midway between the residence of the Princess
and the Winter Palace a man ran up to the imperial carriage throwing a
bomb charged with dynamite under the horses. It killed two men of the
Czar’s escort and wounded three others. In spite of the protests of the
police officer and the driver, who insisted on taking the Czar as
rapidly as possible to the Winter Palace, he alighted, unhurt as he was,
to look after the victims of the attack. In doing so, he exclaimed:
“Thank God, I was not hurt!” But the man who had thrown the bomb and
been seized by the escort, hearing the Czar’s exclamation, replied:
“Perhaps it is not time yet to thank God!” At the same time another
person hurled a bomb at the feet of the Emperor. His legs were broken by
the explosion, his abdomen was torn open so that the intestines
protruded, and his face was badly disfigured. The Emperor fell to the
ground, exclaiming: “Help me! Quick to the Palace! I am dying!” The
explosion was so violent that the windows of a church and of the
imperial stables situated on the opposite side of the Canal were
shattered. Many persons were killed or wounded. The imperial carriage
was also considerably damaged. The Emperor was therefore lifted into a
sleigh, which returned to the Winter Palace at a gallop. The blood
flowed in great quantity from his wounds, and as he was carried up the
large stairway of the Palace he fainted. The surgeons found it
impossible to stop the hemorrhage, and at thirty-five minutes past three
o’clock in the afternoon he breathed his last without having recovered
consciousness for a moment.

The assassination caused the most intense excitement in the capital. A
shout of triumph went up from the Executive Committee of the Nihilists,
and a few days afterward the people of St. Petersburg could read the
following manifesto, which, in spite of the care of the police, had been
posted in several conspicuous places:

     “The Executive Committee consider it necessary once more to
     announce to all the world that it repeatedly warned the tyrant now
     assassinated, repeatedly advised him to put an end to his homicidal
     obstinacy, and to restore to Russia its natural rights. Every one
     knows that the tyrant paid no attention to these warnings and
     pursued his former policy. Reprisals continued. The Executive
     Committee never drop their weapons. They resolved to execute the
     despot at whatever cost. On the thirteenth of March this was done.

     “We address ourselves to the newly crowned Alexander the Third,
     reminding him that he must be just. Russia, exhausted by famine,
     worn out by the arbitrary proceedings of the administration,
     continually losing its sons on the gallows, in the mines, in exile,
     or in wearisome inactivity caused by the present _régime_,--Russia
     cannot longer live thus. She demands liberty. She must live in
     conformity with her demands, her wishes, and her will. We remind
     Alexander the Third that every violator of the will of the people
     is the nation’s enemy and tyrant. The death of Alexander the Second
     shows the vengeance which follows such acts.”

These accusations were only partly true. Alexander, on ascending the
throne, had honestly tried to introduce reforms, abolish abuses and pave
the way for a progressive, liberal government. But his liberal policy
did not satisfy the Nihilists. And when in self-protection he fell back
on the former policy of repression, the Nihilists began a war of
reprisals, and finally murdered the Czar.



CHAPTER XXIV

WILLIAM McKINLEY

[Illustration: WILLIAM McKINLEY]



CHAPTER XXIV

ASSASSINATION OF WILLIAM McKINLEY

PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

(September 6, 1901)


The North-American Republic had lived eighty-nine years before political
assassination made its entrance into its domain. From 1776 to 1865, a
period occasionally as turbulent, excited and torn by political discord
and strife as any other period in history, political assassinations kept
away from its shores, and appeared only at the close of the great Civil
War between the North and the South, selecting for its victim the
noblest, gentlest, most kind-hearted of Americans who had filled the
Presidential chair.

Sixteen years later, on July 2, 1881, the second political assassination
took place in the United States, resulting in the death of President
James A. Garfield, after months of intense suffering from a wound
inflicted by a bullet fired by Charles J. Guiteau, a disappointed
office-seeker. By removing the President this man hoped to restore
harmony in the Republican party, which, in the state of New York at
least, had been disturbed by the feud between James G. Blaine and Roscoe
Conkling. Guiteau imagined that President Garfield had become an
interested party in this feud by appointing Mr. Blaine his Secretary of
State. His was the act of a vindictive madman.

Twenty years had elapsed since Guiteau’s horrible crime, and again a
President of the United States was prostrated by the bullet of an
assassin, who, at the moment of committing the crime, proclaimed himself
an Anarchist. When William McKinley was reëlected President in November,
1900, a successful and perhaps glorious second term seemed to be in
store for him. During his first term the policy of the Republican party
had earned great triumphs, and the President, who was in full accord
with his party on all economical questions, and was even its most
prominent leader on the tariff question, had justly shared these
triumphs.

Quite unexpectedly the question of armed intervention in Cuba had been
sprung in the middle of Mr. McKinley’s first term of office, and after
having exhausted all diplomatic means to prevent war and to induce Spain
to grant satisfactory terms to the Cubans, the President was forced into
a declaration of war by the enthusiasm of the Senators and
Representatives assembled at Washington. But, as if everything
undertaken by Mr. McKinley was to be blessed with phenomenal success,
the war with Spain was not only instrumental in securing the thing for
which it had been undertaken,--the liberty and independence of the
island of Cuba,--but it had also an entirely unexpected effect on the
international standing of the United States. Up to the time of the
Spanish-American War the United States had always been considered an
exclusively American power, and while the European powers seemed to be
willing to concede to it a leading position--a sort of hegemony--in all
American affairs (including Central and South America), which the
United States had assumed by the promulgation of the Monroe Doctrine in
1823, they had never invited the American government to their councils
treating of European or other non-American affairs. The Spanish-American
War was a revelation to Europe. It opened its eyes to the fact that over
night, while Europe had been sleeping and dreaming only of its own
greatness, a young giant had grown up on the other side of the Atlantic
who was just beginning to feel his own strength and who seemed to make
very light of time-honored sovereignty rights and inherited titles of
possession. As the Atlantic cable flashed over its wires the reports of
American victories and achievements of astounding magnitude,--the
destruction of two powerful Spanish fleets, followed by the surrender of
the large Spanish armies in the Philippine islands and Cuba,--Europe
stood aghast at this superb display of power and naval superiority, and
European statesmen reluctantly admitted that a new world-power of the
first order had been born, and that it might be prudent to invite it to
a seat among the great powers. History is often a great satirist; it was
so in this case. Spain had for a long time made application for
admission to a seat among the great powers of the world and had pointed
to her great colonies and to her splendid navy as her credentials
entitling her to membership in the illustrious company. But England and
Germany, fearing that Spain would strengthen France and Russia by her
influence and navy, kept her out of it. And now comes a young American
nation which nobody had thought of as a great military and naval power,
makes very short work of Spain’s navy, robs her of all her colonies, and
coolly, without having asked for it, takes the seat which Spain had
vainly sighed for.

In a monarchy a large part if not the whole of the glory of these
achievements on land and sea would have been ascribed to the ruler under
whose reign they occurred. It was so with Louis the Fourteenth and Queen
Elizabeth, but William McKinley was entirely too modest to claim for
himself honors which did not exclusively belong to him. Nevertheless a
great deal was said about imperialism and militarism during the
campaign, and these charges were even made a strong issue against Mr.
McKinley’s reëlection. However, the good judgment of the American people
disregarded them and reëlected Mr. McKinley by a considerably larger
majority than he had received four years before.

It might have been supposed that this flattering endorsement of Mr.
McKinley’s first administration would have allayed all opposition to him
personally, because certainly his experience, his conceded integrity and
ability, his great influence in the councils of his party, and his
immense popularity would have been of inestimable value in adjusting and
solving the new problems of administration arising from the acquisition
of our new insular possessions in the Pacific and the West Indies. While
the two great political parties, and in fact all other parties, had
bowed to this decision of the people at the ballot-box, there was,
unfortunately, a class of men in the United States as well as in Europe
who made war upon the present organization of society as unjust to the
poor man, and upon all government, which they declared hostile and
detrimental to the rights of individuals, and which they considered the
source of all wrongs and miseries. This doctrine was originated by a
French philosopher, Pierre Joseph Proudhon, in his famous pamphlet
published in 1850 and entitled: “What is Property?” He denounces the
unequal division and distribution of property among men and the unjust
accumulation of capital in the hands of the few as the source of all
social evils, and, concluding with the emphatic declaration that all
property is theft, demands its readjustment and re-apportionment on a
basis of strict justice as the sole hope for happiness. Proudhon’s ideas
and arguments found an echo throughout Europe. He had considered the
question only in its economical bearings; but some of his disciples
extended the inquiry in all other directions, and showed the hurtful
influence of accumulated power and property on all other social
conditions, especially on politics and the government of nations. They
demanded the reinstatement of the individual in all his natural rights,
and a destruction of all those powers and laws which stood in the way of
the free and unobstructed exercise of those rights. This meant a
declaration of war on all established authority and government. It meant
anarchy in the literal sense of the word, and the men who had adopted
this doctrine as their political platform called themselves Anarchists.

On the twenty-ninth of September, 1872, a violent schism occurred at the
congress of the International Association of Laborers, held at the
Hague, between the partisans of Carl Marx and those of Bakúnin, and from
this date we must count the origin of the anarchistic party. In the
United States the first symptoms of an anarchistic movement appeared in
1878. At the Socialist congress held at Albany, N. Y., the majority of
delegates, who were advocates of peaceable methods of propagandism,
were opposed by a minority of revolutionists preaching the most extreme
measures. The leader of this minority was Justus Schwab, who was then
publishing a socialistic newspaper, “The Voice of the People,” at St.
Louis. He was a friend and admirer of John Most, who had been imprisoned
in England for his revolutionary and seditious articles, and who was,
unquestionably, the intellectual leader of the radical minority at
Albany. The final rupture between the two factions occurred a year
later, at the congress at Alleghany, Pa., in 1879, when the radical
revolutionists, who were in a majority, expelled the moderate faction
from the convention. The radical wing has grown rapidly in numbers and
power, and its influence has made itself felt repeatedly on lamentable
occasions, the last of which was the assassination of William McKinley,
President of the United States, during the Pan-American Exposition at
Buffalo, on September 6, 1901.

The great American cities, from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific, are
hot-beds of extreme political radicalism; Italian Carbonarism and
Russian Nihilism are represented in those cities by some of their most
daring representatives, whose official programme is destruction of
authority by the assassination of its most exalted heads, and subversion
of law. By placing William McKinley in line with the monarchs who were
the special targets of their inflammatory harangues and writings, danger
and death were attracted to his person with magnetic power: and what in
the intention of party opponents was but a forcible means of attacking
Mr. McKinley’s and his party’s colonial policy (to disappear again with
his election) may have lingered in the heated imaginations of these
avowed regicides, and may have intensified their feelings against him,
as the most exalted representative of law and order (with alleged
imperial designs) in this country. Several months before the
assassination took place it was reported that detectives had ferreted
out at Paterson, N. J., which is known as a gathering-place of Italian
anarchists and assassins, a conspiracy which had for its object the
assassination of all European monarchs and of President McKinley. This
report, when published in the newspapers, was received with laughter and
contempt by the reading public. The mere idea appeared too absurd to
deserve even a moment’s attention, and the result was that to the recent
assassinations of the Empress of Austria and King Humbert of Italy was
added the tragedy of Buffalo.

Only a few months after Mr. McKinley was inaugurated for his second term
of office, the Pan-American Exposition was held at Buffalo. Mr. McKinley
had, from the very inception of the great undertaking which was to shed
new lustre upon his administration, given to it great attention and
cordial encouragement. For the first time, such an exposition was to
exhibit all the products, natural and artificial, of the two Americas in
one common presentation, challenging the admiration or the criticism of
the world on the intellectual and industrial standing which this display
manifested. The result was grand, and in many respects surpassed
expectation. It emphasized the impression already created by the Chicago
World’s Fair of 1893, that America would within a short time become a
dangerous rival for Europe in many departments of industry, not only at
home, but even in foreign countries which up to that time had almost
held a monopoly for supplying certain articles of manufacture. The
departments in which articles of steel and iron manufacture, electrical
machines, etc., were exhibited showed such superiority over what old
Europe could show that even the most prejudiced visitors from abroad had
to concede it.

It had been expected that President McKinley, by his presence on several
days in some official capacity, would heighten the interest and
emphasize the importance of the Exposition. He had promised and planned
to do so. In the summer of 1901 he made a trip to the Pacific coast, and
was everywhere welcomed with boisterous enthusiasm. Mrs. McKinley
accompanied him, sharing his popularity and triumphs. Perhaps no
President since George Washington had to a higher degree possessed the
confidence and love of the whole people than Mr. McKinley did at the
time of his second inauguration. Even his political opponents conceded
his eminent worth, his integrity, his loyalty to duty, and his sincere
desire to promote the general welfare of the country. The short
addresses which he made during his trip to California found an
enthusiastic echo in the hearts of his fellow-citizens, East and West;
the ovations he received and which he accepted with becoming modesty and
tact, were heartily endorsed by the nation as symptomatic of the
universal feeling of harmony and of good-will toward the administration.
The ante-election charges of imperialism were laughed at, and both
parties seemed to be willing to make the best of the results of the war.
Moreover the great urbanity of manners, and the personal amiability
which distinguished Mr. McKinley were the strongest refutations of these
ridiculous imperialistic charges and of Mr. McKinley’s ambition to be
clothed with royal honors. He showed equal courtesy to rich and poor,
and his grasp of the laborer’s hand was just as cordial as of the rich
merchant’s.

The Presidential party had reached San Francisco, and its reception
there was fully as enthusiastic as it had been in the cities along the
route to the Pacific. It had been the President’s intention to stop at
Buffalo on his return from his trip to California, to be the guest of
the managers of the Exposition for a few days, and to perform those
duties and ceremonies which were expected of him as head of the nation.
Unfortunately this programme could not be carried out. Mrs. McKinley,
always in very delicate health, fell seriously ill at San Francisco, and
for several days her life was despaired of. She recovered; but as soon
as she was able to bear the discomforts of transportation, without
inviting the danger of a relapse, the President’s return to the East was
decided on, and all his previous appointments were cancelled. His
intention to visit Buffalo, during the continuance of the Exposition,
was, however, not abandoned, but simply postponed to a more opportune
time, after Mrs. McKinley should have recovered her usual strength.

Mr. McKinley came to Buffalo in the first week of September. The
Exposition had attracted many thousands of visitors who were anxious to
greet the President. On the fifth--which had been made President’s
Day--he delivered an address to a very large audience, in which he spoke
feelingly of the blessings bestowed by Providence on this country, and
in eloquent terms referred to the unexampled prosperity enjoyed by its
citizens. That secret and unaccountable influence which frequently
inspires men on the verge of the grave and endows them with almost
prophetic foresight seemed to have taken possession of Mr. McKinley on
this occasion. The speech was, perhaps, the best he had ever made. It
was the speech of a statesman and patriot, full of wisdom and love of
country. He did not know, when he made it, that it would be his farewell
address to the American people; but if he had known it and written it
for that purpose, he could not have made it loftier in spirit, more
patriotic in sentiment, and more convincing in argument.

On the afternoon of the next day a grand reception had been arranged for
the President at the Temple of Music. An immense multitude had
assembled, eager to shake hands with Mr. McKinley and to have the honor
of exchanging a few words with him. He was in the very best of spirits
and performed the ceremony of handshaking with that amiable and cordial
expression on his features which won him so many hearts. It had been
arranged that only one person at a time should pass by him, and that
after a rapid salutation his place should be taken by the next comer.
Hundreds had already exchanged greetings with the President, when a
young man with smooth face and dark hair stepped up to him. Mr. McKinley
noticed that the right hand of the young man was bandaged, as though it
had been wounded, and he therefore made a move to grasp his left hand;
but at that moment the young man raised his right hand, and in quick
succession fired two shots at the President, which both wounded
him,--the one aimed at his chest, lightly, because the bullet deflected
from the breastbone; the other, which had penetrated the abdomen, very
seriously. The assassin had carried a revolver in his right hand and
had covered it with a handkerchief in order to avoid detection. Mr.
McKinley did not realize immediately that he was wounded, although from
the effects of the shot he staggered and fell into the arms of a
detective who was standing near him.

“Am I shot?” asked the President. The officer opened the President’s
vest, and seeing the blood, answered: “Yes, I am afraid you are, Mr.
President.”

The assassin was immediately thrown to the ground. Twenty men were upon
him, and it was with some difficulty that he was rescued from their
grasp. At first he gave a fictitious name, and, when asked for his
motive, replied: “I am an Anarchist, and have done my duty.” His
statements shortly after his arrest seemed to implicate a number of more
or less prominent Anarchists in the crime and to make it appear as the
result of a widespread conspiracy. In consequence a number of the
recognized leaders of the party--especially Emma Goldmann, whom the
assailant named as the person whose teachings had inspired him with the
idea of committing the crime--were arrested and held for a preliminary
examination; but nothing could be proven against them, and they were
discharged.

After a few days the assailant made a full confession. His name was Leon
Czolgosz; he was a Pole by birth, and his family lived at Detroit. He
was a believer in Anarchism and had murdered the President because he
considered him the chief representative of that authority which, in his
opinion, was hurtful to the development of a society founded on the
equal rights of all its members. He had had no accomplices: he had not
consulted with anybody concerning the plan, time, or execution of the
crime, but he had resolved upon and executed it on his own
responsibility. While his confession fully exonerated both the Anarchist
party at large and all its members individually, it nevertheless showed
what terrible consequences may arise from the propagandism of a party
which has declared war on the existing organization of society, when its
doctrines inflame the mind of a fanatic or of an unthinking proselyte.
Public opinion in the United States was stirred to its very depths, all
parties vying with one another in showing not only their abhorrence of
the crime, but also their love and admiration for the illustrious
victim.

Unfortunately the hopes of the American people that Mr. McKinley would
survive the foul and senseless attempt on his life were disappointed.
For about a week his condition seemed to improve, and his strong
vitality seemed to rise superior to the weakening effects of a dangerous
surgical operation which failed to produce the second bullet, deeply
seated as it was in the spine. At first he rallied from the severe
shock, and his physicians were hopeful of saving his life, but in the
afternoon of September 12, a sudden change for the worse occurred which,
it was soon noticed, indicated the approach of dissolution. He remained
conscious till about seven o’clock in the evening of September 13, and
faced death in the same spirit of calmness and submission to the will of
God which had characterized his whole career. “Good-bye, all; good-bye.
It is God’s way. His will be done!” were his last conscious words to the
members of his cabinet and other friends who, overcome with emotion,
were at his bedside. The end came shortly after two o’clock in the
morning, on September 14, apparently without pain.

President McKinley’s death made a profound impression on the American
people. The rage of the people of Buffalo against the assassin was
boundless, and but for the efficient measures for protecting him at the
station-house in which he was imprisoned, he very likely would have
fallen a victim to the fury of the thousands who surrounded it. The
entire police force and several companies of soldiers were kept under
arms to be ready for any emergency.

The body of the dead President was first taken to Washington, and thence
to its final resting-place at Canton, Ohio. The obsequies were of
imposing grandeur and magnificence; but even more impressive than these,
and more honorable to his memory, was the sorrow of a whole nation in
tears over his untimely and cruel death.

President McKinley’s death is typical of the modern attempts on the
lives of sovereigns and prominent men. These attempts have lost much of
the personal character which in former times made them so interesting.
They are much more the results of a wholesale conspiracy against the
organization of society than against great individuals. Unfortunately
political assassinations have not become of rarer occurrence during the
last fifty years, as might have been hoped from the progress of
education and civilization. On the contrary, they have multiplied with
the spread and development of Anarchism. The Anarchist makes no
distinction between the bad ruler and the good ruler. The fact that the
ruler occupies an exalted station above his fellow-men makes him an
object of hatred for the Anarchist, and justifies his removal from an
elevation which is a danger to all. At the present time men very high in
authority, whether in a monarchy or in a republic, are always exposed
to the daggers or pistols or--what is much worse--to the dynamite or
other explosives of assassins.

The field of operation of these murderers--who are generally the deluded
agents of a central organization of Anarchists, and who have frequently
no personal grievance against their victims--extends not only all over
Europe, from Russia to Spain, but also to the western hemisphere.

While these murders fall with the same crushing effect upon the nations
immediately stricken in the persons of their rulers or intellectual
leaders, the interest in the causes leading to them is essentially
diminished since they are all inspired by the same general
motive,--destruction of authority,--and since the hand armed with the
fatal weapon strikes with blind fanaticism, sparing neither age nor sex
nor merit; in fact, quite often slaying those who deserve to live, and
sparing those whose death might be a benefit to their country and the
world. In this way we have seen the Czar Alexander the Second of Russia,
the emancipator of the Russian serfs; General Prim, who, if he had lived
longer, might have secured a constitutional government for Spain and her
political regeneration; the Empress Elizabeth of Austria, a faultless
and much betrayed wife as well as a bereaved mother; King Humbert, whose
best endeavors were made in behalf of a reunited Italy; President Sadi
Carnot, one of the purest and most patriotic statesmen the French
Republic has had; and last, though not least, our genial and
noble-hearted President, William McKinley,--all falling victims to the
senseless vindictiveness of men who do not persecute wrong and
oppression, but power and authority in whatever form they may present
themselves. We have selected the assassination of President McKinley as
representative of this class of political murders, because he was
dearest to the American heart, and also because, in our opinion, he was
the most illustrious of the many victims of anarchistic vengeance.



CHAPTER XXV

ALEXANDER I AND DRAGA

[Illustration: ALEXANDER I. OF SERVIA]



CHAPTER XXV

ASSASSINATION OF ALEXANDER I AND DRAGA, KING AND QUEEN OF SERVIA

(June 11, 1903)


The Balkan countries--Servia, Bulgaria, Roumania, Bosnia, and
Herzegovina--are generally considered the political centre from which
will spread, sooner or later, the conflagration of a gigantic war, which
will eventually place Russia in possession of Constantinople and
European Turkey. Some of these Balkan countries are nominally
independent, others are still under the suzerainty of the Sultan, who
holds on to them with the energy of despair. He watches every change in
the political situation with the carefulness of a physician who knows
that his patient is doomed, but who hopes that he may for a while
prolong his life. The half Oriental, half European character of the
populations of these Balkan states, their unquenchable thirst for
national independence, their defiance and hatred of their oppressors,
their contempt for the impotent Turkish administration, and their hope
of improving their condition by some political change,--are singularly
favorable to insurrections and revolutions. Russia is nursing this
revolutionary spirit with great skill and prudence, trusting to the
proper moment for harvesting the fruit of the seed which she has been
sowing for upwards of a century. Ever since the days of Catherine the
Second Russia has stood, so to speak, like a sentinel on the lookout for
the favorable moment to pounce down on Turkey, to plant the White Eagle
on the peaks of Macedonia and Roumelia, and to take possession of the
Dardanelles as a Russian ship-canal between the Black Sea and the
Mediterranean. Every commotion and revolution in any of the Balkan
states helps her in her far-seeing ambition, especially now since France
will stand by her as an ally. It is in this sense and for this reason
that the terrible tragedy which occurred at Belgrade, Servia, on the
eleventh of June, 1903, may claim a place in this gallery of historical
assassinations. From it sooner or later events of the first magnitude
may develop, and while at present comparative quiet has been restored at
the Servian capital, the change of dynasty may lead to the most serious
international complications.

The reign of Alexander the First of Servia was ushered into existence by
means of a _coup d’état_ at midnight on the sixth of March, 1889; it
terminated after midnight on the eleventh day of June, 1903, by
assassination.

The manner in which King Milan forfeited his throne, and again the
manner in which King Alexander lost both his throne and his life, as
well as the many tragedies and comedies which occurred in the royal
family of Servia between these two events,--all these details seem to be
rather detached chapters of a highly sensational novel than the sober
and truthful records of recent history.

At the age of twenty-one, on the seventeenth of October, 1875, King
Milan of Servia married Princess Natalia Keschko, the daughter of a
colonel in the Russian army; Natalia’s mother, however, was the daughter
of a Roumanian prince. Natalia was seventeen years old at the time, and
of marvellous beauty. She was one of the most admirable beauties of the
Russian capital, and King Milan, who fell desperately in love with her
at first sight, found but little encouragement from her, in spite of his
exalted rank, because the young lady herself was in love with a Russian
officer and was loved in return. But Colonel Keschko, who was ambitious
and prized very highly the honor of a family alliance with a reigning
King, by his paternal veto put an end to his daughter’s sentimental
love-affair and compelled her to accept King Milan’s hand.

It is but just to say that Princess Natalia proved herself in every
respect worthy of the honor conferred upon her. As Queen of Servia she
was not only the most beautiful woman of the kingdom, but she was a
model wife, and opened her heart and mind to all the patriotic
aspirations of the Servian people. When shortly afterwards a war broke
out between Servia and Turkey, she personally appealed to the Czar for
assistance, went to the hospitals to nurse the wounded, cared for the
widows and orphans, and became not only a popular favorite, but
deservedly won the esteem of the Servian nation.

It was a day of public rejoicing, when on August 14, 1876, she bore the
King a son, who was named Alexander after his godfather, Alexander the
Second of Russia. Another son, born two years later, died a few days
after his birth. Soon after the birth of his son Alexander, King Milan
commenced neglecting his wife and bestowed his favor on other women of
the court. The Queen felt the King’s neglect very keenly, and became
often an indignant witness to his liaisons, which he did not think it
worth while to conceal from her. The anger and contempt she felt for the
indelicate voluptuary gave her strength to overcome the love which had
gradually grown up in her heart for the father of her son, and to this
son she transferred all the tenderness her heart was capable of. The
Servian people soon saw and learned what was going on at court, and
while they condemned and despised the King, they praised and idolized
the Queen.

Under such lamentable conditions young Alexander grew up to adolescence.
He was greatly attached to his mother, and applied to her as his adviser
and friend in all questions, while he could hardly conceal his profound
aversion for his father. The King noticed this growing hostility in his
son and heir, and blamed the Queen for having incited it. He saw in it a
deep-laid plot on her part to secure a controlling position which would
enable her, at any given opportunity, to place her son on the throne and
to assume the reins of government under his name. The breach thus
created between the father and the mother, and every day widened by the
excesses and orgies of the King, reached its climax when the question
arose who should be appointed instructors to prepare the prince for his
future duties as the head of the Servian nation. Milan wanted Austrian
instructors for his son, because he had been leaning on Austrian
influence; the Queen, in sympathy with the national demands as well as
prompted by her own impulses, insisted on Russian preceptors, to
initiate him into the maze of European politics and to open his mind to
the aspirations of Servian genius. It is said that one day when the
discussion had grown very warm between husband and wife, and when he
accused the Queen of purposely estranging his son’s heart from him, she
reproached him with the indignities he had heaped upon her, with his
many acts of infidelity, and with his low and vulgar excesses, which,
she said, imperilled the dynasty. The King was dumfounded by this
torrent of invectives, which he could neither stop nor contradict, but
which left in his heart a wound which his pride would not permit to heal
up. It seems certain that from that day his resolution was taken to
obtain a divorce from his wife for a double purpose: first, that he
might not be hindered by her from following his low inclinations;
second, that he might withdraw his son from the Queen’s influence and
surround him with his own creatures. The question was, how could he
obtain this divorce from a wife whose conduct was exemplary, and who was
almost worshipped by the whole people for her private and public
virtues? It was clear to him that to succeed in his design he had to
ruin her character, and on this conviction he built a plot of diabolical
malice. Under a plausible pretext he arranged a private meeting in the
Queen’s apartments between her and the Metropolitan of Servia. This
bishop was known to have an almost worshipful admiration for the Queen;
upon him, therefore, it was supposed, the suspicion of illicit relations
with her could be fastened easily. No sooner had the Metropolitan
entered the Queen’s apartments than the King, accompanied by some of his
intimates, appeared on the scene and “surprised the guilty couple.” The
plot failed miserably; the King’s hand appeared too visibly in the
arrangement and execution to leave any doubt in the public mind as to
the Queen’s innocence. His evident intention to brand an innocent and
much wronged wife as an adulteress lowered Milan even more in the
estimation of the people, and they commenced talking openly of the
necessity for his abdication.

The Queen thereafter refused to live with the King, and this refusal
gave him the desired pretext to obtain a divorce. They separated in
1888. Alexander was then twelve years old. The Queen went to Wiesbaden,
and took her boy with her; but on the application of King Milan to the
German authorities, the boy was taken away from her and sent to
Belgrade. The King’s scandalous conduct had now exhausted the patience
of the Servian people. They insisted on his dethronement, either by
voluntary abdication or by forced removal. A delegation of notables
placed before him the alternative of either abdicating in favor of his
son, or of sharing the fate of his uncle, Michael Obrenovitch, who just
twenty years before was assassinated in a park near Belgrade. Milan did
not hesitate long. He declared his willingness to abdicate, but he
demanded two million dollars as the price of this abdication, and the
Servian people, only too glad to get rid of him at any price, paid the
sum demanded.

On the sixth of March, 1889, Alexander, who was then thirteen years old,
ascended the throne of Servia. A regency of three prominent men--General
Bolimarcovitch, M. Ristitch, and General Protitch--was appointed to
conduct the public affairs of the kingdom. Everything promised a
prosperous reign. There was absolute order and tranquillity in the
country; the people seemed to be satisfied. The Queen returned to
Servia, and the government designated one of the royal palaces of
Belgrade for her residence. She was then at the height of her
popularity, and the young King shared in that popularity because it was
generally supposed that he had great respect and love for his mother.

These happy and peaceful conditions, however, soon underwent a change.
Ex-King Milan, who could not forget the days of luxury he had enjoyed at
Belgrade, was busy stirring up intrigues and conspiracies which might
lead to his restoration; and on the other hand, Queen Natalia, to
counteract his manœuvres, built up a party of her own, and took an
active interest in politics. This became embarrassing to the government,
since it continued to inflame the minds of the people. Through these
conflicting parties the country was actually brought to the verge of
civil war, which very likely would have broken out had not the
government taken energetic measures to put a stop to the strife. The
regents first applied to Milan, and bought him off. They restored to him
the property which had been confiscated when he went into exile, and
paid him one million dollars besides. Milan on his part solemnly
promised never to set foot on Servian soil again, and even renounced his
right of citizenship. The contract between the ex-King and the council
of regency was made on April 14, 1891. Thereupon the regents addressed a
request to the Queen, asking her, in the interest of peace and order, to
leave the country. She refused to comply with the request, and a week
afterwards an attempt was made to remove her by force. She was arrested
in her palace, and rapidly driven in a coach to the quay, where a
steamer was waiting to convey her across the frontier. But a number of
young students delivered her from the hands of the officers who had
charge of her person, conducted her back in triumph to her palace, and
constituted themselves her guard of honor. Quite a bloody conflict
occurred between the students and the police, in the course of which a
number of persons were killed, and many more wounded. However, a second
attempt made by the police authorities a day or two later was more
successful. She was conveyed by railroad to Hungary. The young King
showed that he was a true Obrenovitch by the fact that he never
interfered or even uttered a kind word in behalf of his mother. He
showed the same ingratitude to the three regents in 1893 when he
dismissed them unceremoniously like body-servants for whom he had no
further use. The first _coup d’état_ which Alexander made occurred on
April 14, 1893. It would seem that the radicals had in some way secured
an influence over his mind, for it was to their advantage that the _coup
d’état_ principally turned out. But Alexander showed considerable
self-assurance on that occasion.

On the evening of the day mentioned Alexander had invited the three
regents and the members of the cabinet to take supper with him.
Altogether eight persons sat down at the supper-table. The very best of
humor prevailed among the guests. After the third course had been served
the King rose from his seat, and addressed his guests as follows:

“Gentlemen, for the last four years you have exercised royal authority
in my name, and I sincerely thank you for what you have done. I feel
now, however, that I am able to exercise that power myself, and will do
so from this moment. I therefore request you to hand me your
resignations forthwith.”

Mr. Ristitch was the first to recover his presence of mind. He told the
King that it would be impossible to comply with his request, because by
doing so they would violate the constitution. The King thereupon left
the table without saying another word; but soon afterwards an officer
appeared renewing the King’s demand for the resignation of the members
of the Council of Regency and of the Cabinet.

During that very night the young King, who was then only seventeen years
old, went to the different barracks and armories where the troops were
under arms, proclaimed his accession to the throne, received the
enthusiastic homage of the regiments, and returned to the palace. The
_coup d’état_ was a complete success. Alexander the First was King, not
only in name, but also in fact. He dismissed the old cabinet, and
appointed a new one, composed exclusively of moderate radicals.

A few years afterwards Alexander visited the different courts of Europe,
in the hope, it was commonly reported at the time, of finding a young
princess willing to accept his hand; but in this hope he was either
disappointed, or the report of his intentions was unfounded. At all
events he returned to Belgrade without a bride. It was soon after this
that the eyes of the young King were for the first time directed toward
the woman whose striking beauty and sensual charms inflamed him with a
passion to which he blindly yielded. He elevated her to the throne, and
for this act he paid the penalty with his life. For it is absolutely
certain that the King’s marriage with Draga Maschin, and his blind
subordination to her domineering spirit in private and public affairs,
had much more to do with his tragic downfall than all his political
mistakes.

_Draga_ Lunyewitza, better known as Draga Maschin, was the widow of a
Servian nobleman who had occupied a prominent position at the court of
King Milan. Even more prominent than her husband had been Madame Draga,
not only on account of her beauty, which was of a pronounced sensual
type, but also on account of her brilliant conversational powers. Her
most conspicuous feature was her wonderful eyes, large, lustrous, and
beaming with an intensity of feeling and intelligence so penetrating
that it was said that no man whose conquest she had resolved upon would
be able to resist them if properly brought under their influence. That
Madame Draga Maschin’s eyes had often proved victorious was well known
from the long list of her favored lovers,--a list which included
statesmen, high military officers, bankers, and noblemen, and lastly,
King Milan himself. In the eyes of the people of Belgrade Madame Draga
Maschin was not only a coquette, but a courtesan. By means of her
brilliant mental powers, her wit, her interesting conversation, her
suavity of manners, and her diplomatic skill, she still maintained her
position in society, although shunned by the most exclusive circles.

It was principally on account of those brilliant qualities of mind, and
on account of Madame Draga’s intimate acquaintance with a number of the
leading politicians at Belgrade that the ex-Queen made her one of her
attendants in her exile.

It was in this capacity that King Alexander met Madame Draga Maschin at
Biarritz in the Pyrenees,

[Illustration: QUEEN DRAGA]

where his mother spent the summer of 1900. The experienced coquette
tried the power of her eyes on the young man, who had inherited the
sensual temperament of his father. Alexander was by no means a novice in
love-affairs, but he had never come in contact with so consummate a
mistress of the arts of seduction as Draga Maschin. When he left
Biarritz he was passionately in love with her, and those who had
observed her game predicted that something serious would come of it. His
mother was either too deeply engaged in politics to pay much attention
to the flirtation, or she secretly favored it in the hope of securing a
new and reliable ally.

Some time afterwards Draga Maschin returned to Belgrade, and the game of
love-making was immediately renewed. Their intimacy became a matter of
public notoriety. It also reached the ears of ex-King Milan, who was
overjoyed at hearing it; he hoped that his former “good friend” Draga
would use her influence for his benefit. But Draga Maschin worked
neither for the Queen, nor for the King; she worked for herself only,
and very successfully too.

Almost maddened by passion the King one day called a cabinet meeting and
informed his ministers that he had made up his mind to make Draga
Maschin his wife, and that a proclamation to that effect would appear in
the official newspaper of the kingdom. The members of the cabinet were
struck with amazement, and implored him to desist from his project,
which they said would be fatal to the Obrenovitch dynasty. They employed
every argument they could think of to change the King’s resolution; but
in vain. With his usual stubbornness, he declared: “I am the King, and
can wed whomsoever I please.” As a last protest they all tendered their
resignations. The King coolly accepted them, and the royal proclamation
was published.

When on a July morning of 1900 the people of Belgrade were surprised by
the announcement that the widow Draga Maschin was to be Queen of Servia,
and when she was held up to their wives and daughters as a model of all
womanly virtues, their disappointment and their protests against this
“insane” act of the King were so general and so loud that serious
apprehensions of an insurrection were entertained. These fears were not
realized; but the people of Belgrade remained in a state of sullen
discontent. They knew that a speedy and terrible punishment would
overtake the guilty youth. It was reported that on reading his son’s
proclamation, ex-King Milan, who was then a patient at Carlsbad in
Bohemia, left his sick-room and rushed to the depot to take the train
for Belgrade. He declared that this outrage should never be committed,
and that if the King should persist in accomplishing it, he would kill
him with his own hands. But Milan’s wrath had been telegraphed to
Belgrade, and he was not permitted to enter Servian territory.

No less great was the shame of Queen Natalia. She implored her son to
desist from his pernicious intention, laying stress on the disparity of
the ages,--he being twenty-four and Draga thirty-six, and on the
scandalous reputation of the woman whose beauty had for the moment
infatuated him.

But neither the father’s threats nor the mother’s tears made the least
impression on Alexander, who once more realized the often-quoted Latin
saying:

    “Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat.”

The Skuptshina (the Servian Parliament) was amazed at the proclamation,
and its president as well as the Metropolitan of Servia implored the
King on their knees to revoke it. He had only deaf ears for them.

On the fifth of August, 1900, the wedding was solemnized, and Draga
Maschin took her place on the throne of Servia.

If the King had hoped that the irritation of the public would die out
after the wedding, he must have been a badly disappointed man; for the
scandals about Draga continued. Not only was her past life with its many
stains and blemishes laid bare unsparingly, but her life as queen
consort was also unmercifully exposed. Every word and every act of her
married life were carefully weighed in the scales of public opinion, and
hardly ever was a word of praise accorded to her, while vituperation,
insinuations, and direct accusations abounded. The Belgrade
correspondents of foreign newspapers knew that anything they might have
to report of King Alexander, Queen Draga, or any member of her family
would be read with interest. If they could not pick up anything of
interest they invented some unfavorable story. Unquestionably many of
the stories circulated about Draga, and also of Alexander are utterly
untrue. It should also be remembered that the elevation of Draga to a
station which none of her rivals could hope to attain made her an object
of envy, and that they resented this elevation by telling about her all
the bad things they knew. But after making all these allowances, we
still find enough to justify us in saying that the two were an
exceedingly ill-matched couple,--he a voluptuous, ungrateful,
good-for-nothing simpleton, and she a designing, ambitious, unscrupulous
woman of powerful mind.

The scandal which has been most widely circulated referred to the
fictitious pregnancy of the Queen. Unquestionably the young King was
anxious to have a son. Alexander was the last Obrenovitch, and it was
natural for him to desire to have a son so that his dynasty might
continue to rule over Servia. It was equally natural for Draga to desire
to become the mother of an heir, because as such she would have had an
additional claim on the affection of her husband,--a claim which might
have outlasted her physical beauty. This desire was certainly not
unreasonable in a wife twelve years older than her husband. This
pregnancy was officially announced by the court physician, but it was
afterwards stated that the announcement had been premature. These are
the facts in the case; and on these slim facts a superstructure of
rumors and fables has been erected. Very likely the great anxiety of the
couple to have an heir was the real cause of the announcement. The
rumors so widely circulated in the kingdom did certainly not contribute
to improve the reputation of the Queen, or to give the people the
impression of a happy domestic life.

The generally recognized mental superiority of Queen Draga over her
husband had still another unfavorable consequence,--one of a political
character. While Alexander was unmarried, his political mistakes, his
autocratic interference with the work of the Skuptschina, his violation
of the constitution, were charged to himself; but after his marriage all
the political sins of the government were ascribed to Draga’s
instigation.

The political conditions of the Balkan countries are of the most
unsettled kind. They resemble very much the political conditions in the
South American and Central American states, and while nominally they are
regulated by constitutions and by a parliamentary system of government,
they are really controlled by the principle that “might constitutes
right.” It has been so in Servia from the day of the establishment of
its national independence: continuous party strife, revolutions,
assassinations--frequently winked at, if not directly instigated and
supported, by foreign powers. In 1903 the Radicals had been several
years in full control of the government. They had filled all lucrative
offices with their party friends, many of whom belonged to the rural
population, and had so apportioned the public taxes as to place the
principal burden upon the city populations, where the Liberals had their
voting strength. The misgovernment under the Radicals was so great that
it became a national scandal. The public debt had been nearly doubled,
the annual deficit was enormous, the most flagrant corruption and
extravagance existed in all branches of the public service; but the
Servian Congress refused to correct these abuses, and it remained for
the King to interfere personally. He did so by a new _coup d’état_ in
March, 1903; the old Constitution was abrogated, a new Constitution was
promulgated, and new general elections were ordered.

One of the most alarming features of the political situation in Servia
was the dissatisfaction of the army, and especially of its officers.
This dissatisfaction was not, as has been asserted frequently, caused by
patriotic considerations or by disapproval of the King’s personal
conduct, but simply by the unpardonable neglect of the army on the part
of the government. While in the royal palace at Belgrade an
uninterrupted series of festivities, all arranged in the most sumptuous
and expensive style, kept the gay capital on the tiptoe of excitement,
the army was reduced nearly to a state of starvation, because neither
officers nor men had been paid for months, “for want of funds in the
public treasury.” Instead of being a firm support of the government, the
army therefore turned against it. It easily lent itself to propositions
for a change, especially if that change would come in with the payment
of their arrears of wages.

There was another cause of dissatisfaction, which evoked a direct and
strong protest against the Queen and her influence. Disappointed in her
hope of giving the King a son and heir, Draga devised another plan to
perpetuate her own power,--namely, to select an heir to the throne. Her
choice fell upon her own brother, Nicodemus Lunyevitch, a young
lieutenant in the Servian army, and she succeeded in winning the consent
of the King. It is even stated that Alexander intended to adopt this
brother-in-law, who was twenty-four years old, and formally proclaim him
his heir. No sooner had the plan been mentioned than a very loud, and
almost general, opposition to it manifested itself. The cabinet
ministers heard of it, and waited on the King in a body to enter their
protest. When their arrival at the palace was announced to him, the King
knew what they wanted, and kept them waiting for a long time. He finally
received them in the large assembly hall. He was dressed in full
uniform; the Queen was by his side and leaning upon his arm. He turned
to the prime minister and requested him to state the object of the
visit, whereupon the prime minister asked the Queen in a very courteous
manner to withdraw for a short time from the conference. She haughtily
refused, and the King coolly informed the ministers that he had no
secrets either private or public which he wished to conceal from his
wife.

The ministers then presented their complaints. They stated that public
opinion was excited to such a degree that there was imminent danger of a
revolution if the King should persist in carrying out this new plan.
“Moreover,” added the prime minister, “the Skuptschina should be
consulted in a matter of such great importance--a matter in which the
state and the people are principally interested. In default of direct
heirs, the representatives have the right to say who shall succeed to
the throne.”

The King interrupted him angrily, and said brusquely: “I am the King,
and can do as I please.”

“But the will of the people should also be consulted!” repeated the
prime minister.

“The King’s will is supreme!” interposed Draga, and suddenly taking the
King’s arm, she dragged him from the room, leaving the ministers
confused and almost stupefied.

It may be said that this was the beginning of the end. Both Alexander
and Draga were blinded to such a degree by passion and by the idea of
their own infallibility that they could not see what everybody else did
see--that the measure of their follies was full to overflowing, and that
the day of reckoning was approaching very fast. Anonymous letters came
to the King and to the Queen informing them of plots and conspiracies
against their lives; they disregarded and laughed at them. They openly
showed their contempt for the will of the people and of the Cabinet by
installing Lieutenant Nicodemus Lunyevitch as the heir apparent, in a
brilliant suite of rooms of the royal palace, and abandoned themselves
to an incessant whirl of pleasures and extravagant follies. Concerning
this matter, a guest, the correspondent of a paper in Paris, wrote: “The
King and the Queen do not seem to realize that they are dancing on a
volcano!”

In the newspapers of the different capitals of Europe dark and ominous
predictions were published about a conspiracy which was being formed at
Belgrade, and of which persons of the highest station would be the
victims.

Then came the elections of the first of June, and they resulted in such
an overwhelming victory for the government that the predictions of
conspiracy and death were momentarily silenced and a feeling of greater
security was established in the royal palace. It was, however, only the
calm before the storm.

Evidently the conspiracy which foreign papers had so often hinted at not
only existed, but was well organized. The officers of the Sixth Regiment
stationed at Belgrade were the leaders of it. Another leader was Colonel
Maschin, the cousin (not, as is often stated, the brother-in-law) of the
Queen, who for some personal reason had become her bitter enemy, and who
was the very soul of the conspiracy.

It is of course impossible, so soon (two months) after the terrible
tragedy, when absolutely reliable data are still lacking, to give with
historic accuracy the details of the plot which culminated in the
assassination of the King, the Queen, two of her brothers, and some of
their most prominent adherents; but from the best and most authentic
information obtainable at present it appears that the events of the
night of June 10-11 were as follows:

Ninety army officers, representing nearly every garrison and military
organization in Servia, had planned to overthrow the government. On
Wednesday, June 10, Colonel Mitshitch, lieutenant-colonel of the Sixth
Regiment, invited his fellow officers belonging to the conspiracy to a
conference at the Helimagdan Garden at 11 P.M. At that conference, which
was largely attended, the immediate execution of the plot was agreed
upon.

At 1:40 after midnight these officers proceeded in eight groups to the
Konac, the royal residence, which had been closed for the night. But the
conspirators had accessories on the inside. They were Colonel Maschin,
mentioned above, commanding the King’s body-guard, and Colonel
Maumovitch, personal aid of the King. The conspirators were in
possession of the keys of the garden gate of the Konac which had been
handed to them by Captain Panapotovitch, the King’s adjutant. The first
bloody encounter occurred when the conspirators reached the guardhouse
near the gate. On their approach some soldiers rushed out. “Throw down
your arms!” commanded one of the officers. The soldiers fired, but were
shot by the conspirators, who entered the gate and passed through the
garden, without encountering any obstacle until they reached the
courtyard of the old Konac, where Colonel Maumovitch was waiting for
them. He opened the iron door that gave access to the front room of the
first floor. The officers ascended and, by the noise of their steps,
attracted the attention of the royal couple and some of the officers of
the palace. Lieutenant Lavar Petrovitch, who had been alarmed by the
unusual noise, ran to meet them, holding his revolver in one hand, and
his drawn sword in the other.

“What do you want?” he asked.

“Show us where to find the King and the Queen!” was the reply.

“Back, back!” shouted the Lieutenant; but he fell instantly, killed by
three or four bullets.

The conspirators advanced, but suddenly the electric lights went out,
and all were enveloped in profound darkness. Utterly confounded and
slowly feeling their way up the stairs, the revolutionists reached the
antechamber of the King’s apartment. It was dark, but one of the
officers discovered a wax candle in a chandelier. He lighted it, and
they could see their way. This trifling little circumstance, entirely
accidental, decided the success of the plot. Without light it would have
been impossible for them to find the victims, who might have made their
escape through the long corridors and numerous apartments of the palace,
with which they were familiar while the conspirators were not, and could
not have followed them.

Some of the officers now carried lights, while the others followed them
with revolvers in their hands. In breathless haste they hurried through
the rooms in search of the royal couple. They opened the closets and
raised the curtains, but no trace either of the King or of the Queen. At
last Queen Draga’s servant was found. He dangerously wounded Captain
Dimitrevitch, who discovered him, but his life was spared for a little,
because he was needed. It was in fact this servant who indicated to the
officers the place where the King and the Queen had gone to hide
themselves. Thereupon he was shot. At this moment Colonel Maschin joined
the conspirators and took them to the King’s bedroom, where the King’s
adjutant tried to prevent their search, but was shot by the Colonel’s
companions.

After a long search a small door was discovered leading to an alcove.
The door was locked and had to be burst open with an axe. In this alcove
the royal couple had taken refuge. Both were in their night robes. The
King was standing in the centre, holding the Queen in his arms, as if to
protect her. Colonel Maumovitch commenced reading to the King a document
which demanded that he should abdicate the throne because he had
dishonored Servia by wedding “a public prostitute.” The King answered by
shooting Maumovitch through the heart. Another officer renewed the
demand for the King’s abdication; but the younger officers had become
impatient and now fired their revolvers at the royal couple until both
expired. The body of the King showed thirty wounds, while the body of
the Queen was so terribly lacerated by pistol-shot and sword wounds that
her features could not be recognized, and the wounds could not be
counted. Both died heroically, trying to protect each other with their
own bodies.

Together with the King and the Queen, two brothers of the latter, and a
number of their most prominent adherents were murdered in cold blood.
This terrible butchery reveals the semi-savage ferocity of the Balkan
population.

When the people of Belgrade awoke from their sleep early in the morning
of June 11, there was not, as might have been expected, a manifestation
of horror, pity, and sorrow, among them, but, on the contrary,
rejoicing and exultation on all sides. Flags were raised, houses were
decorated, salutes were fired; a stranger entering the city might have
supposed that a great national festival was being commemorated by the
enthusiastic crowds of men, women, and children.

It may be taken as a convincing proof of the sincerity of the wrath and
the depth of the contempt which the people of Servia felt for Alexander
I and Draga, that of the immense multitude which came to inspect the
lacerated bodies of those who but the day before had been their King and
their Queen, not one expressed a word of regret, or shed a tear of
sorrow. Many, on the contrary, spat on the mangled remains, or mumbled
words of execration as they passed by the plain coffins. Death itself
had not been able to wipe out the misdeeds of these two persons.

History, the terrible but just avenger, will preserve for many ages the
memory of Alexander the First of Servia, not so much for any single
crime, as for having persistently insulted the national pride and the
moral sentiment of the people over whom Providence had placed him as
ruler and protector.



INDEX


Abo, Treaty of, 253

Adolphus Frederick, 252-254

Æmilianus, Scipio, 13

Africa, 27, 41

Agrarian law, 11, 17

Agrippina, 36, 37

Alba, kings of, 29

Albany, N. Y., 385, 386

Albrecht, of Germany, 68, 70

Albret, Jeanne d’, 150

Alcobaza, 86

Alexander, of Epirus, 5

Alexander I., of Russia, 307, 311, 317, 322

Alexander II., of Russia, 357-378, 394, 401

Alexander III., of Russia, 377

Alexander I., of Servia, 397-420

Alexander III., the Great, 3, 4, 5, 41

Alexander Nevski Monastery, 304

Alexandria, 41-45

Alexandria, Library of, 41, 43

Alexandrian age, 42

Alexandrian war, 42

Alexandrowna Convent, 136

Alexis, son of Peter the Great, 209-217

Alfonso IV., of Portugal, 77-85

Alleghany, Pa., 386

Altorf, 70

Alva, Duke of, 117-121, 123

America, 387

America, Central, see Central America

America, South, see South America

American Union, 354

Amphictyon League, 3

Amsterdam, 202, 215

Anarchism, 391, 393

Anarchists, 382, 385, 391-394

Angoulême, Duc d’, 333, 334, 335

Anjou, Duke of, 152

Ankarström, 249, 274-278

Anna, daughter of Peter the Great, 222

Anne, Princess of Saxony, 116

Antony, Mark, 42

Antwerp, 124

Appomattox Court House, 343

Aragon, 85

Arc, Jeanne d’, 298

Argentan, 291

Argyle, Countess of, 97

Aristotle, 42, 45

Armfeld, Count, 276

Arndt, E. M., 318, 319

Artois, Comte d’, 329, 330, 333, 335

Asia, 4, 6, 41, 229, 363

Athens, 45

Atlantic Ocean, 316, 383, 386

Attalus, General, 4, 5

Augustus, Octavianus, 36, 37

Austria, 68, 154, 175, 177, 273, 316, 318, 360, 394

Austria, Ducal hat of, 70

Austria, Duke of, 70

Austrian Governors, 68, 70

Austrian succession, War of, 252

Avignon, 330


Bakúnin, Michael, 370, 385

Baltic Sea, 170, 271, 318

Barbaroux, 285, 290

Barnevelt, Olden, 111

Bastile, 292

Bavaria, 178, 318

Bayard, Chevalier, 92

Beccaria, 265

Becket, Thomas à, 51-63

Belgrade, Servia, 400, 404, 405, 407, 408, 410, 414, 416, 419

Bell, The, 367, 368

Benningsen, General, 310

Bernard, Duke of Saxe-Weimar, 181

Berry, Duc de, 155, 325-340

Berry, Duchesse de, 334, 336, 338

Bétysi, Comtesse de, 337

Biarritz, 408, 409

Biron, Marshal, 228

Black Sea, 400

Blaine, James G., 381

Bloedraad, see Blood, Council of

Blood, Council of, 119

Blücher, Marshal, 318

Blücher monument, 123

Boer Republics, 68

Bohemia, 165, 167, 171, 173, 174, 177, 181, 182

Bohemian wars, 169

Bolimarcovitch, General, 404

Bologna, 54

Bonapartist generals, 329

Bonapartists, 330

Booth, John Wilkes, 125, 348-350

Borgia, Cæsar, 143

Bosnia, 399

Bothwell, Earl of, 101-108

Bourbon, Antony of, 150

Bourbon, Cardinal de, 153

Bourbon dynasty, 330, 332, 333, 340

Bourbons, 327, 331, 335

Brabant, 120

Braga, Archbishop of, 84

Brahe, Count, 278

Bretteville, Madame de, 285-287

Brown, John, 349

Brune, Marshal, 330

Brunswick, Duke of, 166, 167

Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, Princess of, 213

Brussels, 113-115, 117-119

Brutus, 29, 297

Brutus, Decimus, 30

Buffalo, N. Y., 386, 387, 389, 393

Buitenhof, 207

Bulgaria, 399

Bülow, General, 318

Burgundy, 125

Burschenschaft, 319-321, 324

Butler, Walter, 186

Buturlin, Count, 233

Buzot, ----, 285

Byzantinism, 362


Caen, 285, 286, 288, 289, 291, 292, 295

Cæsar, 23-31, 35, 36, 42, 67, 187

Cæsarium, 48

Cæsars, City of, 41

Cæsars, Palace of the, 156

Calais, 335

California, 388, 389

Caligula, 33-38, 156

Calvarez, Alvaro, 78

Calvin, John, 147, 148

Calvinistic church, 120, 151

Cantaneda, 85

Canterbury, 61

Canton, Ohio, 393

Caps, Party of the, 251-253, 256, 257, 263

Caracalla, 156

Carbonarism, 386

Carlos, Don, 124

Carlsbad, Bohemia, 410

Carnot, Sadi, President of France, 329, 394

Casan church, 234, 237

Cassius, 29, 30

Castile, 84, 85

Castro, Iñez de, 75-86

Catherine I., Empress of Russia, 214, 215

Catherine II., Empress of Russia, 89, 222,
   224-227, 229-237, 239-246, 301, 304-306, 400

Catherine de Médicis, 149, 151, 152

Catholic church, 114, 116, 117, 153, 165, 172, 175

Catholic League, 166, 168, 170

Caucasus, 363

Central America, 316, 382, 413

Cevennes, 330

Chæronea, Battle of, 3

Champ-de-Mars, 292

Charkow, Governor of, 372

Charleroi, 194

Charles V., Emperor, 112, 113, 116, 122, 148

Charles II., of England, 196

Charles IX., of France, 90, 149, 152

Charles X., of France, 155, 340

Charles XI., of Sweden, 250

Charles XII., of Sweden, 249, 250, 251, 262, 268

Charles, Prince, of Sweden, 257

Chateaubriand, 339

Chatelard, Pierre de, 91-93

Cherbourg, 285

Chicago, 387

Choiseul, Duc de, 254, 255

Christian IV., of Denmark, 168, 171

Christianstadt, 257, 258, 259

Cicero, 20

Cid, Le, 286

Cinna, 286

Civil War, 345, 354, 381

Clarendon, Constitution of, 58, 59

Claudius, 33-38, 156

Clément, Jacques, 149

Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, 42

Cleopatra, Queen of Macedon, 4, 5

Clio, 354

Coello, Pedro, 78, 84, 85

Coimbra, 80, 81, 82, 86

Coligny, Admiral, 151, 155

Condé, Prince of, 200, 201, 286

Confederacy, 343

Confederate States of America, 343

Conkling, Roscoe, 381

Constancia, wife of Pedro I., 77, 85

Constant, Benjamin, 332

Constantinople, 399

Corday, Adrian, 285

Corday, Charlotte, 283, 285-298

Corday d’Armans, Monsieur de, 285

Corneille, Marie, 285

Corneille, Pierre, 283, 285, 286, 288

Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi, 12

Crimean War, 364

Croatian horsemen, 167

Cromwell, Oliver, 193

Crusoe, Robinson, 352, 353

Cuba, 350, 382, 383

Cuma, 18

Cyril, Saint, 44, 46, 50

“Czar of all the Russias,” 134

Czolgosz, Leon, 157, 390, 391


Dalecarlia, 269

Damiens, R. F., 156, 157, 158, 159, 160, 161

Damocles, Sword of, 362

Danton, G. J., 284, 290, 291

Dardanelles, 400

Darius, 6

Darnley, Lord, 87-108

Dashkow, Princess, 230, 234

Decazes, M., 332, 339

Defoe, Daniel, 353

Delft, 125

Demaratus, the Corinthian, 5

Denmark, 102, 215, 222

De Ruyter, Admiral, 202, 203

Detroit, 391

Deveroux, ----, 186, 187

De Witt, Cornelius, 111, 189-208

De Witt, John, 111, 189-208

Diana of Poitiers, 91

Dimitrevitch, Captain, 418

Dolgorouki, Princess, 375, 376

Dominican monk, 124

Domitia, 36

Dordrecht, City of, 191, 192, 206

Douai, 194

Douglas, Stephen A., 351

Draga, Queen of Servia, 397-420

Drentelen, General, 372

Dunbar, 102

Dunbar castle, 100

Dutch Republic, 111, 126, 128, 191, 193, 195, 197-202, 208


Edinburgh, 91, 100, 102, 105

Eger, Bohemia, 165, 184, 185, 186

Egmont, Count, 115, 116, 118, 119

Egypt, 27, 41, 42

Eisenach, 320

Elba, 329

Elizabeth, Empress of Austria, 387, 394

Elizabeth, Empress of Russia, 222-228, 244

Elizabeth, Queen of England, 89, 94, 229, 384

England, 59, 60, 62, 68, 167, 193-195, 197, 202, 215, 291, 333, 366, 383, 386

Epirus, 4, 5

Essen, Count, 275, 276, 277

Esths, 268

Eumenes, King of Pergamus, 42

Europe, 101, 120, 127, 155, 176, 195,
   198, 211, 223, 264, 273, 287, 306, 315-317,
   327, 328, 339, 363, 364, 366, 370,
   383-385, 387, 388, 394, 416

Evrard, Catherine, 293, 295


Fehrbellin, 199

Ferdinand II., of Germany, 165-167, 169, 173-175, 179, 180, 185, 188

Ferdinand, son of Pedro I., 77, 78, 80

Finland, 214, 252, 253, 265, 268, 274

Finns, 268

Flaccus, Lucius, 18, 19

Ford’s Theatre, 346, 347, 348

Forum, 15, 16

Foy, General, 332

France, 59, 60, 62, 91, 93, 103, 112, 147, 152, 154, 155, 160, 161, 194,
   195, 202, 215, 251, 252, 254, 272, 273,
   284, 285, 287, 288, 295, 298, 315, 318,
   323, 327-329, 331, 333, 334, 339, 366, 383, 400

Franche-Comté, 125, 194

Francis I., of Austria, 317

Francis I., of France, 147, 148

Francis II., of France, 90, 93, 149

Franco-Austrian alliance, 226

Franconia, 177

Frederick II., King of Prussia, 223, 226, 227, 229, 253, 265, 268, 366

Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg, 198

Frederick William I., King of Prussia, 223

Frederick William III., King of Prussia, 317

Frederickshall, Fortress of, 250

Frederickshamm, Fortress of, 268

French chambers, 331

French Empire, 331

French Republic, 394

French Revolution, 50, 111, 156, 249, 264,
   272, 273, 284, 288, 291, 305, 317,
   321, 328, 330, 331, 333

French Revolutionists, 286

Friedlanders, 170, 181

“Friend of the People,” 292

Friesland, 191

Frisia, 120

Fuerst, Walter, 69, 70


Galitzin, Count, 235, 237

Gallas, General, 184, 186

Garde, Count de la, 330

Garfield, James A., 381

Gatschina, 303

Gaul, 26, 27

Gérard, Balthasar, 125, 126

German Empire, 67, 198, 318, 324

German Reformation, 320

German Universities, 318-320

Germany, 112, 118, 120, 121, 147, 148, 167-169,
   171, 174, 175, 195, 222, 273, 286,
   315, 318-321, 324, 327, 383

Gessler, Hermann, 65-73

Gil Blas, 158

Girondists, 284, 285, 288, 290, 294, 295

Glasgow, 104, 105

Goethe, 122, 123, 359

Golden Fleece, Knight of the, 120

Goldmann, Emma, 391

Gonsalvez, ----, 84, 85

Gordon, General, 184, 186

Gortschakoff, Prince, 372

Gracchus, Caius, 11, 12, 13, 20, 21, 191

Gracchus, Sempronius, 12

Gracchus, Tiberius, 9-21, 191

Grammaticus, Saxo, 73

Grant, General, 343, 346, 348

Granvella, Cardinal, 114-116, 123

Greece, 3, 6, 45, 287

Greek church, 227

Guise, Duke of, 90, 149

Guise, Henry of, 155

Guiteau, Charles J., 381, 382

Gustavus I., 269

Gustavus II., 175-182, 188, 259, 268

Gustavus III., 247-279


Hague, The, 191, 205, 207, 385

Haller, Albrecht von, 321

Hannibal, 12

Hanseatic League, 102

Hapsburg, House of, 119, 154

Harrach, Count, 169

Hats, Party of the, 251-253, 256, 257, 263

Helimagdan Garden, 417

Heliogabalus, 156

Hellichius, Captain, 257

Henrietta, Princess of France, 196

Henry II., of England, 53-63

Henry VIII., of England, 94

Henry II., of France, 148-150

Henry III., of France, 149, 152, 155

Henry IV., of France, 145-161, 354, 355

“Heptameron,” 150

Hermandad, 361

Herzegovina, 399

Herzen, Alexander, 367, 368, 370

Hesse-Cassel, Frederick of, 250

Hesse-Darmstadt, Princess of, 375

Hessian queue, 321

Höchst, 167

Hohenstaufen, 318

Holland, 115, 125, 191, 193, 202, 204-206, 215

Holstein, 239, 241

Holstein-Gottorp, Charles Frederick of, 222, 250

Holstein-Gottorp, Duke of, 229

Holstein Guards, 236

Holsteiners, 224

Holy Alliance, 316

Holy Sepulchre, 63

Holyrood Palace, 92, 97, 99-102, 105, 106, 108

Horace, 286

Hoorn, Count, 115, 118, 119

Horn, Count, 274-277

Horn, General, 177

Humbert, King of Italy, 387, 394

“Hundred Days,” 329

Hungarian Revolution, 360

Hungary, 170, 363, 406

Hungary, King of, 173

Hypatia, 39-50


Ides of March, 30

Illo, General, 182-184, 186, 187

Illyria, 5

Imperial Guards, 307, 308, 360, 374

Imperialists, 166, 168, 178, 328, 330

Ireland, 102

Ismailoff, General, 239, 240

Italy, 27, 54, 93, 394

Ivan IV., 129-143, 221, 222

Ivan VI., 230, 244, 245, 301


Jacobins, 273, 277, 284, 332

Jacobins, White, 330

James I., of England, 101

James V., of Scotland, 90

James VI., of Scotland, 101

Jaureguy, Juan, 124, 125

Jena, 322, 323

Jena, University of, 321

Jerusalem, 142

Jesuits, 125

Jews, 118

John of Austria, 123, 124

Johnson, Andrew, 348

Johnston, General, 343

Joseph II., of Austria, 366

Julia, daughter of Augustus, 37

Juliers-Cleves, 154

Jupiter, 29

Jupiter, Statue of, 27


Karakasow, ----, 370

Karamsin, N. M., 221

Kasan, 133

Keschko, Colonel, 401

Kingsley, Charles, 49

Kinsky, General, 182, 186

Knox, John, 93

Kolokos (“The Bell”), 367, 368

Konac, 417

Körner, K. T., 318

Kotzebue, August von, 313-324

Krapotkine, Prince, 372

Kraskazelo, 241

Kreuger, Oom, 70

Kronstadt, 235, 237

Krüdener, Madame, 317

Kuessnacht, 71, 72

Kuessnacht, Castle of, 67

Kyrillos, see Cyril, St.


Labédoyère, General, 329

Laborers, International Association of, 385

Lafayette, 332

Lagarde, Chauveau, 296

La Guarda, Archbishop, 85

“La Henriade,” 155

Lamballe, Princess de, 50

Laputkin, Eudoxia, 211-215

Laputkin family, 212, 214

La Rochelle, 151

La Vendée, 330

League, The, 150, 152, 153

Lee, General, 343, 350

Leipsic, 367

Leipsic, Battle of, 320

Lennox, Earl of, 104, 108

Leslie, ----, 186

Liberals, 365, 369

Licinian law, 14

Liliehorn, Count, 274, 275, 277

Lille, 194

Lincoln, Abraham, 7, 26, 125, 341-355

Lincoln, Mrs., 346, 347

Livadia, 373, 374

Livia, Drusilla, 36

Lobkowitz, Prime Minister, 198

London, 367

Lorraine, Cardinal de, 90, 149

Louis, XIV., 194, 196, 198, 200, 203, 255, 384

Louis XV., 156-161, 254

Louis XVI., 272, 273, 333

Louis XVIII., 328, 329, 335, 339

Louvel, J. P., 334-340

Louvet de Couvray, J. B., 285

Lunyevitch, Nicodemus, 414, 416

Luther, Martin, 147, 320, 321

Lutheran church, 120

Lutheran faith, 116

Lützen, 181

Luxembourg, 200

Luxembourg Garden, 329


Macedonia, 400

McKinley, William, 157, 379-395

McKinley, Mrs., 388, 389

Madrid, 116

Magdeburg, 166

Mannheim, 323

Mansfeld, General, 166, 167

Marat, 281-298

Maratists, 297

Marcellus, 36

Margaret, Duchess of Parma, 114, 115, 117, 122, 123

Margaret, Queen of Navarre, 150

Margrave, The, of Baden, 167

Maria, Empress of Russia, 308

Marie Antoinette, 50, 271, 272, 296

Marie de Lorraine, 90

Marie Thérèse Charlotte, 333

Marin, Colonel, 309, 310

Marx, Carl, 385

Mary de Médicis, 154

Mary, Queen of England, 113

Mary, Queen of Scots, 89-108, 149

Maschin, Colonel, 416, 417, 419

Masnaliza (Russian Carnival), 307

Massmann, 321

Maumovitch, Colonel, 417, 419

Maurice, Elector of Saxony, 116

Maximilian of Bavaria, 166, 168

Mayenne, Duke of, 150

Mecklenburg, 171, 172

Mecklenburg, Duke of, 171, 178

Médicis, Catherine de, see Catherine de Médicis

Médicis, Mary de, see Mary de Médicis

Mediterranean, 318, 400

Melchthal, Arnold, 69

Melikow, Count, 372

Messalina, wife of Claudius, 36, 37

Metternich, 316, 332

Mexico, 349

Milan, King of Servia, 400-405, 409, 410

Milton, John, 155

Mirowitch, Lieutenant, 244, 245

Mississippi River, 353

Mitshitch, Colonel, 417

Monroe Doctrine, 316, 383

Montesquieu, 265, 287

Montpellier, 330

Moravia, 167, 177

Moriscoes, 118

Moscow, 136, 137, 308, 363, 374

Most, John, 386

Mueller, Johannes von, 73

Munda, Battle of, 28

Münnich, Marshal, 228, 236, 238

Münster, Count, 312

Murray, Lord, 94, 99


Nantes, Edict of, 147, 153, 354

Naples, 215

Napoleon I., 25, 31, 73, 315-317, 327, 329, 330, 334

Nasica, Scipio, 19

Nassau, Lewis, Count of, 120

Natalie, Queen of Servia, 401-406, 410

National Assembly, 284

National Convention, 284

Neoptolemus, 6

Nero, 33-38, 67

Netherlands, 112-114, 116-121, 126, 167, 192, 194, 195, 197, 198

Neva river, 363

Newman, ----, 186

Ney, Marshal, 329

Nicholas I., 360, 361, 363-365, 368, 369

Nicholas, son of Paul I., 307

Nihilism, 369-372, 386

Nihilists, 369, 370, 371, 374, 377, 378

Nîmes, 330

Nitria, 43, 44

Normandy, 61, 62, 285, 289, 294

North Carolina, 343

Northampton, England, 59

Norway, 249, 263

Novgorod, 140, 142

Novgorod, Archbishop of, 140, 141, 234

Nuremberg, 178


Obrenovitch, Michael, 404

Octavius, 15, 16, 17

Olympian games, 6

Olympias, Queen of Macedon, 4, 5, 6

Orange, House of, 191, 193

Orange Free State, 70

Oranienbaum, 236, 238, 240, 241

Orestes, 44-47

Orléans, Duc d’, 196, 337

Orléans, Duchesse d’, 337

Orloff, Alexis, 232, 234, 241, 242, 245, 302, 304, 311

Orloff, Feodor, 232

Orloff, Gregor, 232, 233, 239, 302

Orloff, Ivan, 232

Ostia, 38

Oudenarde, 194

Oxford, 54


Pacheco, 78, 84, 85

Pacific Ocean, 384, 386, 388, 389

Pahlen, Count, 307, 308, 309

Palais Royal, 291

Palais Royal, Garden of the, 337

Pan-American Exposition, 386, 387, 389

Panapotovitch, Captain, 417

Panin, Count, 230, 231

Pappenheim, General, 181

Paris, 54, 55, 149, 154, 157, 254,
   273, 277, 284, 285, 288, 289,
   291, 294, 322, 327, 333-335, 338, 339, 367

Paris, University of, 54

Parma, Duke of, 125

Paterson, N. J., 387

Paul I., of Russia, 231, 244, 299-312

Pausanias, 5

Pavia, Battle of, 147

Pavilion Marsan, 330

Pechlin, Baron, 274, 277

Pedro I., of Portugal, 77-85

Pedro the Cruel, of Castile, 84, 85

Peers, Chamber of, 340

Perpetual Edict, 200, 206, 207

Persia, 4

Peter, a priest, 47, 48, 50

Peter I. (the Great), of Russia, 211-215, 222, 227, 229, 232, 233, 360

Peter II., of Russia, 214

Peter III., of Russia, 219-246, 301, 302, 303, 304, 305, 311

Peterhof, 227, 233, 238, 239, 240, 241

Pétion, 285, 290

Petrovitch, Lavar, 418

Pharsalus, Battle of, 27, 31

Philip II., of Macedon, 1-7

Philip II., of Spain, 112, 113-117, 121-124, 126, 127, 151

Philip IV., of Spain, 194

Philip, the Metropolitan, 139

Philippine Islands, 383

Piccolomini, Octavio, 186

Piedmont, 93

Pilsen, 184

Plato, 45

Plutarch, 16, 286, 288, 289

Plutarch’s Lives, 291

Poitiers, Diana of, see Diana of Poitiers

Poland, 225, 363

Poland, King of, 140

Polyeucte, 286

Pomerania, 171, 176, 238

Pompadour, Madame de, 156, 158

Pompey, 26, 27, 28

Pompey, Statue of, 31

Poniatowski, Prince, 225

Pontus, 27

Pope of Rome, 55, 58, 59, 62, 63, 77, 83, 85, 112

Poppæa, wife of Nero, 37

Portugal, 81, 84, 85, 112

Potemkin, General, 231

Prague, 173, 174

Preobrajenski guards, 233

Prim, General, 394

Protestant church, 120, 149, 165, 354

Protestant reformation, 112, 117

Protestant Union, 166, 167, 170

Protestantism, 354

Protitch, General, 404

Provence, 148

Provence, Comte de, 333

Providence Hotel, 291

Provinces, United, 126

Proudhon, P. J., 385

Prussia, 215, 251, 273, 315, 318, 360

Pskoff, 372

Ptolemies, 41, 42

Ptolemy Philadelphus, 42

Ptolemy Physcon, 42

Pyrenean peninsula, 112

Pyrenees, 408


Querouet, Mademoiselle de, 196


Ramel, General, 330

Rappahannock River, 349

Ravaillac, François, 154, 155, 157, 160

Raynal, Abbé, 287

Regensburg, Diet of, 172

Reichsrath, 250-259, 262, 263, 269, 270

Reichstag of Gefle, 273

Reichstag, Swedish, 255, 256, 269, 273, 278

Repnin, General, 231

Republicans, 328, 330

Restitution edict, 172, 175

Reutli, 69

Reutli conspiracy, 70

Reval, 238

Revolutionists, 284, 297

Rheims, 90

Rhine, 177, 198

Ribbing, Count, 274, 275, 277

Richelieu, Cardinal, 175

Richelieu, Duc de, 332

Richmond, 346

Richter, 323

Ristitch, M., 404, 407

Rizzio, David, 87-108

Robespierre, 284, 290, 291

Robzak, 241

Romanowna, Anastasia, 132, 133

Rome, 11-14, 25-27, 41, 156, 287

Rome, Ancient kings of, 29

Roman Campagna, 13

Roman Empire, 27, 43

Roman Republic, 27, 28, 36

Rostock, 123, 172

Rostopchin, Count, 308

Roumania, 399

Roumelia, 400

Rousseau, 287-289

Royalists, 284, 328-331, 334, 339

Rudolph of Hapsburg, 68

Rue des Cordeliers, 292

Russia, 131, 215, 216, 221-223, 226-230, 234, 237, 249, 251, 252, 268, 271,
273, 306, 312, 315, 322, 361, 362, 367-369, 377, 383, 394, 399, 400

Russian Carnival, 307

Russian Church, 227

Russian Empire, 305

Russian serfs, 394

Russian universities, 365

Ruthven, ----, 97, 99


St. Angelo, Castle of, 215

St. Bartholomew, Eve of, 111, 140, 149, 152

St. Louis, 386

St. Michael, Palace of, 308, 312

St. Michael’s Canal, 376

St. Petersburg, 215, 222, 225, 233-236,
   238, 241, 243, 268, 303, 311, 370, 373, 374, 377

St. Petersburg, Governor-General of, 309

San Francisco, 389

Sand, C. L., 322, 323, 324

Sassoulitch, Vera, 370

Savoy, 148

Saxony, 180, 181

Saxony, Elector of, 181

Scandinavia, 73

Scania, 257

Scharnhorst, General, 318

Schiller, Frederick, 73, 318

Schüsselburg, 230, 244, 301

Schwab, Justus, 386

Schwyz, 67, 69

Scipio Africanus, Cornelius, 12

Scotland, 91, 93, 100-102

Sempronian law, 11

Seni, the astrologer, 173

Serapeum, 42, 43

Servia, 399, 400, 401, 404, 405, 411, 413, 417, 419

Servia, Metropolitan of, 403, 411

Servian Parliament, see Skuptshina

Seven Years’ War, 253

Seward, William II., 347, 348, 350

Shakespeare, William, 25, 371

Siberia, 228, 361, 362, 366

Siberian exiles, 365, 366

Silesia, 177

Silius, Caius, 37

Skuptshina, 411, 412

Socialism, 368

Socialist congress, 385

Socialists, 369

Sodermanland, Duke of, 277

Sokoloff, Alexander, 372, 373

Solbay, Battle of, 203, 206

Soltikoff, Count, 225

Soothsayer, 18

South African War, 68

South America, 316, 383, 413

Spain, 13, 81, 103, 111, 112, 126, 127, 153, 154, 177, 194, 202, 382, 383, 394

Spanish-American War, 382, 383

Spanish Inquisition, 112, 115, 121, 361

Spanish Netherlands, 194, 197

Stanton, E. M., 346, 348

Stauffacher, Werner, of Schwyz, 69

Stockholm, 252, 254-257, 260, 263, 269, 274, 277, 278

Stourdza, Baron, 322, 323

Stralsund, Fortress of, 171

Sulla, General, 29

Sully, Duke of, 153, 154

Surratt, Mrs., 349, 350

Suwarow, General, 231

Sweden, 175, 194, 195, 197, 222,
   249, 251, 254, 256, 257, 262,
   263, 265, 267, 269, 271

Swenskasund, Battle of, 270

Swiss Cantons, 67, 68

Switzerland, 68, 71, 73

Switzerland Republic, 73

Synesius, 46


Tacitus, 38, 288

Talizin, General, 307, 309

Tasso, 155

Tell, William, 67, 70, 72

Tepelof, ----, 241

Terrorists, 285, 288, 295

Terzky, General, 182, 186

Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, 54, 55

Theocritus, 42

Theodosius the Great, 42

Theon, father of Hypatia, 45

Theophilus, Archbishop of Alexandria, 43, 44

Thirty Years’ War, 176, 188

Thuringia, 180

Thurn, Count, 180

Tiberius, 33-38

Tichelaar, ----, 205, 206

Tilly, General, 166-168, 176

Toropetz, 372

Toulouse, 55, 330

Tournay, 194

Transvaal, 70

Transylvania, 170

Trent, Court of, 116

Trepow, General, 370, 372

Trèves, College of, 125

Trianon, 156

Tribunal, Revolutionary, 295

Tribunes, Ten, 15

Triple Alliance, 194, 195, 197

Tromp, Admiral, 193

Troubles, Court of, 119

Trubetzkoi, Prince, 243, 244

Turenne, Marshal, 200

Turgenieff, Ivan, 369

Turkey, 225, 363, 400, 401

Turkey, European, 399

Tuscany, 13

Tver, 366

Twer, 138


United Netherlands, 195, 196

United Provinces, 192

United States, 343, 354, 381-385, 392

United States Territories, 68

Unterwalden, 67, 69

Uri, 67, 69

Uri, Lake of, 69


Varennes, 273

Vauban, Marshal, 195, 200

Venus, Temple of, 29

Vergennes, Count de, 254

Versailles, 156, 157, 265, 334-336

Vienna, 176, 178, 180, 195, 215

Vienna congress, 316

Virgil, 155

Virginia, 343, 349

“Voice of the People,” 386

Voltaire, 155, 287

Vorwärts, Marshal, 123


Waldstädte, Three (Forest Cantons), 67

Wallenstein, General, 163-188, 308

Wartburg, 320

Wartburg celebration, 321, 322

Washington, D. C., 346, 348, 393

Washington, George, 126, 127, 351, 388

Waterloo, 329

West Indies, 384

Western Hemisphere, 316

Westminster, 193

White Mountain, Battle of, 167

Wiesbaden, 404

Wiesloch, 167

William I., Prince of Orange, 109-128

William II., Prince of Orange, 192

William III., Prince of Orange, King of England, 199, 200, 203, 204, 207, 208

Wimpfen, 167

Wimpfen, General, 285

Winter Palace, 309, 376, 377

Wladimir, Grand Duchess, 135

Wladimir, Grand Duke, 135

Worcestershire, England, 57

World’s Fair, 387

Worms, Diet of, 320

Woronzow, Elizabeth, Countess, 226, 227, 230, 236-239

Wunsiedel, 322

Würtemberg, 177


York, ----, 318

Yssel, 201


Zealand, 115, 192, 195, 204

Zubow, Nicholas, 310, 311

Zubow Brothers, 307


Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

and with mighty leap=> and with a mighty leap {pg 72}

Protestanism, 354=> Protestantism, 354 {pg 431}





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