Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

VIII.

CHAP. Vienna in this manner handed over to Russia, contained,

we in 1846, 4,865,000 inhabitants ; it extends over 47,000 1815.

• square geographical miles (about half more than Ireland), Statistics of the people being thinly scattered over it, at the rate of the grandduchy of 100 to the square mile; and the land under cultivation Warsaw,

within its limits amounts to 5,444,000 dessiаtines, or 14,000,000 English acres, being at the rate only of 1.12 dessiatine (three acres) to each inhabitant. * As the soil is generally rich, everywhere level, and for the most part capable of yielding the finest wheaten crops, it is evident that the inhabitants might be five times their present amount, not only without any diminution, but with a great and durable increase in their comfort and wellbeing. But the character of the Poles, like that of the Celts, ardent, enthusiastic, and daring, but gay, volatile, and insouciant, had rendered these gifts of nature of little avail, and retained the nation in a state of internal poverty and external weakness, when the means of attaining the reverse of both were within their power. Great part of

the country was overshadowed by dark forests of fir; vast 1 Tegob. swamps extended along the margin of the rivers, and Etudes s la Russie, i."

ur formed morasses and lakes in the interior, which chilled 111, 118; the atmosphere around ; and even where cultivation had Haxthausen, Stat. crept into the wilderness, it was in such a rude and imdela Russie, i. 227. perfect manner as bespoke rather the weakness of savage

than the powers of civilised man.1

The new kingdom of Poland, on the throne of which Establish the Emperor of Russia was placed, was proclaimed at ment of the kingdom of Warsaw on the 20th June 1815. It consisted of the Poland. June 20, grand-duchy of Warsaw, as it existed in the time of

Napoleon, with the exception of the city and little territory of Cracow, which was erected into a separate republic, the salt mines of Wicleiza, which were ceded to Austria, and the grand-duchy of Posen, which was set apart to Prussia. Still the portion left for Russia was

5.

1815,

* The Russian dessiаtine, by which all their land is measured, contains .2% acres nearly, the acre being .37 of a dessiаtine.

[ocr errors]

'ienna in this manner handed over to Russia, contained, 1 1846, 4,865,000 inhabitants; it extends over 47,000 quare geographical miles (about half more than Ireland), he people being thinly scattered over it, at the rate of 00 to the square mile ; and the land under cultivation vithin its limits amounts to 5,444,000 dessiаtines, or 14,000,000 English acres, being at the rate only of 1.12 lessiatine (three acres) to each inhabitant.* As the soil s generally rich, everywhere level, and for the most part capable of yielding the finest wheaten crops, it is evident that the inhabitants might be five times their present amount, not only without any diminution, but with a great and durable increase in their comfort and wellbeing. But the character of the Poles, like that of the Celts, ardent, enthusiastic, and daring, but gay, volatile, and insouciant, had rendered these gifts of nature of little avail, and retained the nation in a state of internal poverty and external weakness, when the means of attaining the reverse of both were within their power. Great part of the country was overshadowed by dark forests of fir ; vast swamps extended along the margin of the rivers, and formed morasses and lakes in the interior, which chilled the atmosphere around ; and even where cultivation had crept into the wilderness, it was in such a rude and imperfect manner as bespoke rather the weakness of savage than the powers of civilised man. 1

The new kingdom of Poland, on the throne of which the Emperor of Russia was placed, was proclaimed at Warsaw on the 20th June 1815. It consisted of the grand-duchy of Warsaw, as it existed in the time of Napoleon, with the exception of the city and little territory of Cracow, which was erected into a separate republic, the salt mines of Wicleiza, which were ceded to Austria, and the grand-duchy of Posen, which was set apart to Prussia. Still the portion left for Russia was

The Russian dessiаtine, by which all their land is measured, contains .23 acres nearly, the acre being .37 of a dessiаtine.

very great, and formed an immense addition to its already çı colossal strength; for it brought its dominions almost into the centre of Europe, and left the capitals of Austria and Prussia within ten days' march of its frontiers, without a fortified town or defensible frontier between. It added, too, the military strength of a warlike race, celebrated in every age for their heroic exploits, to the Russian standards—men whom Napoleon has characterised as those of all Europe who most readily become soldiers. They formed at this time a willing and valuable addition to the Muscovite legions, for the Poles clung to this little kingdom, as a nucleus from which might arise the restoration of their lost nationality; and the benevolent dispositions and known partiality for Poland of the Emperor Alexander inspired the warmest hopes that this long-wished-for result might take place. The strength and vigour which were ere long communicated to the new kingdom by the Russian administration, caused the country rapidly to prosper in the most remarkable manner in all its material interests; while the shadow, at least, of im representative institutions, which was obtained for it by the efforts of Lord Castlereagh at the Congress of Vienna, 50 flattered the secret hope that, with its lost nationality, H. the much-loved liberties of Poland might one day be ii. restored. 1

The GRAND-DUKE CONSTANTINE, who was placed as viceroy at the head of the government of this infant Bi kingdom, was one of those strange and bizarre characters which occur but seldom in history, and can be produced only by a temporary, and, in some degree, fortuitous blending of the dispositions of various races, and the feelings produced by different states of society. The second son of the Emperor Paul I. and the celebrated Empress Catherine, he was born on 8th May 1779, and christened Constantine, from the design of that aspiring potentate to place him on the throne of Constantinople, and restore the Byzantine empire, as an appanage of the

Bru Ur

of

Сс tin

VIII.

CHAP. imperial house of Russia. He was married on 26th

'_ February 1796 to a princess of the house of Saxe-Coburg; 1815.

but the marriage proved unfortunate, and was soon followed by a separation. The savage manners and despotic inclinations of the Grand-duke were speedily felt as insupportable by a princess accustomed to the polished and considerate manners of European society.* He soon after entered on the career of arms, and in it from the very first he greatly distinguished himself. His first essay in real warfare was in 1799, under Suwarroff on the banks of the Po, where his daring character and headlong valour were very conspicuous. Subsequently he joined the allied army, at the head of his splendid regiment of cuirassiers, in the plains of Moravia in 1805; and by the glorious charges, in which he defeated the best regiments of the imperial guard, and captured an eagle, had all

but changed the face of Europe on the field of Auster1 Hiat. of litz.1 Subsequently he arrested the triumphant march of Europe,

Napoleon at Eylau, and nearly closed his career amidst 130, 131.

the snows of Poland. He went through the whole campaigns of 1812, 1813, and 1814 in Russia, Germany, and France, and attended the victorious march of his

countrymen from Moscow to Paris.t He did not accomBiog, des pany them to London, but attended the Congress of ii. 227.

Vienna, from whence he proceeded to take possession of his new kingdom in June 1815.2

His character and habits but ill qualified him for the His charac- task. Born on the confines of Europe and Asia, inherit

ing the Tartar blood, warmed by the Slavonian temperament, his Oriental character had never yielded to the manners or civilisation of Europe. He was an emblem of the nations of which he was so nearly the head :

Hom. Viv.

ter.

* The author has been informed by a lady, to whom the Grand-duchess herself recounted it, that, in some of his fits of passion, he used to make her rise during the night, and lie across the threshold of the door of their apartment!

+ The author met him frequently there in 1814, and the chief traits in this description are taken from his own observation.

[ocr errors]

1:

refinement had never penetrated the interior--the deli- CH cacy and graces of polished manners were on the surface only. His countenance, which was strongly characterised by the Tartar features, and severely marked by the smallpox, was ill-favoured and ungainly ; but his manners were polished in society, and no one, when so inclined, could be more winning and attractive. But the real disposition was widely different; he had nothing mild or gentle in his temperament. He rivalled Richard Cæur-de-Lion in his valour in the field, but he surpassed him also in the vehemence with which he ruled the cabinet, and the acts of tyranny by which both his public administration and private life were characterised. Violent, capricious, and irritable, he could never brook contradiction, and when inflamed by passion, indulged his vehement disposition by frightful and disgraceful acts of cruelty. He was an untamed savage, armed with the power and animated by the imperious disposition of an Eastern sultan, imperfectly veiled over by the chivalrous manners of modern Europe. Yet was the savage not destitute of generous sentiments; he could occasionally do noble things; and though the discipline he maintained in his troops was extremely severe, yet it was redeemed, and their affections won, by frequent acts of kindness. The close of his public career was very remarkable, and afforded a memorable proof of what is the real vanquisher of the savage dispositions of man, and how love can melt even the most ferocious bosoms. Such was the influence which a Polish lady of charming and fascinating manners acquired over him, that he sacrificed for her the most splendid prospects which the world could offer; and it will appear in the sequel that “all for love, or the world well lost,” was, to the astonishment of Europe, realised by an Oriental prince, the heir to the greatest k empire in Christendom.1

1

mperial house of Russia. He was married on 26th February 1796 to a princess of the house of Saxe-Coburg; but the marriage proved unfortunate, and was soon folowed by a separation. The savage manners and despotic inclinations of the Grand-duke were speedily felt as insupportable by a princess accustomed to the polished and considerate manners of European society.* He soon after entered on the career of arms, and in it from the very first he greatly distinguished himself. His first essay in real warfare was in 1799, under Suwarroff on the banks of the Po, where his daring character and headlong valour were very conspicuous. Subsequently he joined the allied army, at the head of his splendid regiment of cuirassiers, in the plains of Moravia in 1805; and by the glorious charges, in which he defeated the best regiments of the imperial guard, and captured an eagle, had all but changed the face of Europe on the field of Austerlitz. Subsequently he arrested the triumphant march of Napoleon at Eylau, and nearly closed his career amidst the snows of Poland. He went through the whole campaigns of 1812, 1813, and 1814 in Russia, Germany, and France, and attended the victorious march of his countrymen from Moscow to Paris. He did not accompany them to London, but attended the Congress of Vienna, from whence he proceeded to take possession of his new kingdom in June 1815.2

His character and habits but ill qualified him for the task. Born on the confines of Europe and Asia, inheriting the Tartar blood, warmed by the Slavonian temperament, his Oriental character had never yielded to the manners or civilisation of Europe. He was an emblem of the nations of which he was so nearly the head :

As might have been expected from a prince of such a character and habits, his chief attention was concentrated

army. On the 11th December 1815, when the an

H ii F

The author has been informed by a lady, to whom the Grand-duchess herself recounted it, that, in some of his fits of passion, he used to make her rise during the night, and lie across the threshold of the door of their apartment!

+ The author met him frequently there in 1814, and the chief traits in this lescription are taken from his own observation.

on the

1815

8.

acts of ad

CHAP. nexation of Poland to the Russian crown was seriously conVIII.

"e_ tested in the Congress of Vienna, Constantine addressed to

6. it an animated proclamation, in which he recounted with His first truth and deserved pride their glorious deeds in arms, their ministra- fidelity in misfortune, their inextinguishable love of their tion, and

country, and called on them to rally round the emperor training of counus y, au the army. as its only bulwark.* On the 24th of the same month Dec. 24. he presided at a solemn meeting of the Senate, at which

the new constitution was read, and proclaimed with great solemnity. The prospect of the restoration of their country, of its resuming its place in the family of Europe, the known affection with which the emperor regarded Poland, and the generous deeds towards it by which his reign had already been signalised, the hope of the restoration of their liberties by means of the constitution which

had been promulgated, diffused a universal enchantment, Biog, des and for a brief season made the Poles forget the longHom. Viv. ii. 228. ***continued misfortunes of which their country had been

the theatre.

Great material prosperity followed the junction of the Polish and Russian crowns, and vast advantage to both countries. The very cessation of the jealousy and hostility which had so long subsisted between them, and the opening of the vast market of Muscovy to Polish industry, was of itself an immense advantage.

+ “ Réunissez-vous autour de votre drapeau; armez vos bras pour défendre votre Patrie, et pour maintenir son existence politique. Pendant que l'Empereur Alexandre prépare l'heureux avenir de votre pays, montrez-vous prêts à soutenir ses nobles efforts. Les mêmes chefs qui, depuis vingt ans, vous ont conduits sur le chemin de la gloire, sauront vous ramener l'Empereur apprécier votre valeur. Au milieu du désastre d'une guerre funeste, il a vu votre honneur survivre à des événements qui ne dépendaient pas de vous. De hauts faits d'armes vous ont distingués dans une lutte dont le but souvent vous était étranger; à présent que vos efforts ne seront consacrés qu'à la Patrie, vous serez invincibles. Soldats et guerriers de toutes les armes, donnez les premiers l'exemple de l'ordre qui doit régner chez tous vos compatriotes. Dévouement sans bornes envers l'Empereur, qui ne veut que le bien de votre Patrie, amour pour son auguste personne, obéissance, concorde : voilà le moyen d'assurer la prospérité de votre pays, qui se trouve sous la puissante Égide de l'Empereur. C'est par là que vous arriverez à l'heureuse situation, que d'autres peuvent vous promettre, mais que lui seul peut vous procurer. Sa puissance et ses vertus vous en sont garant."— Biographie des Hommes Vivants, ii. 229.

« ForrigeFortsett »