and chosen troops of the empire, and a hundred and sixty Chap. guns, succeeded, and the coronation took place on the day vm" fixed, 22d August (3d September), in the cathedral of 1 ^^j. t Moscow, with circumstances of unheard-of magnificence ix.35i,356j and splendour. The Grand-duke Constantine was the \Cs5% i&7. first to tender his homage to the new sovereign.1

Nicholas I., who, under such brilliant circumstances,

. . 149.

and after the display of such invincible resolution, thus Character ascended the throne of Russia, and whom subsequentperorNiTM" events have, in a manner, raised up to become an arbiter p^nciw of Eastern Europe, is the greatest sovereign that that^|epe^TM country has known since Peter the Great; in some re-the Urcatspects he is greater than Peter himself. Not less energetic in character and ardent in improvement than his illustrious predecessor, he is more thoroughly national, and he has brought the nation forward more completely in the path which nature had pointed out for it. Peter was a Russian only in his despotism: his violence, his cruelty, his beneficence, his ardour for improvement, his patriotic ambition, were all borrowed from the states of western Europe. As these states were greatly farther advanced in the career of civilisation than his was, his reforms were in great part premature, his improvements abortive, his refinements superficial. He aimed at doing by imperial, what so many ardent men have endeavoured to effect by democratic despotism—to engraft on one nation the institutions of another, and reap from the infancy of civilisation the fruits of its maturity. The attempt failed in his hands, as it has ever done in those of his republican imitators, as it will do in those of their successors, whether on the throne or in the tribune, to the end of the world. His civilisation was all external merely; it made a brilliant appearance, but it did not extend beneath the surface, and left untouched the strength and vitals of the state. He flattered himself he had civilised Russia, because he ruled by a police which governed it

by fear, and an army which retained it in subjection by discipline.

Nicholas, on the other hand, is essentially Russian in all his ideas. He is heart and soul patriotic, not merely in wish, but in spirit and thought. He wishes to improve and elevate his country, and he has done much to effect that noble object; but he desires to do so by developing, not changing the national spirit, by making it become a first Russia, not a second France or England. He has adopted the maxim of Montesquieu, that no nation ever attained to real greatness but by institutions in conformity with its spirit. He is neither led away by the thirst for sudden mechanical improvement, like Peter, nor the praises of philosophers, like Catherine, nor the visions of inexperienced philanthropy, like Alexander. He has not attempted to erect a capital in a pestilential marsh, and done so at the expense of a hundred thousand lives; nor has he dreamt of mystical regeneration with a visionary sybil, and made sovereigns put their hands to a holy alliance from her influence. He neither corresponds with French atheists nor English democrats; he despises the praises of the first, he braves the hostility of the last. His maxim is to take men as they are, and neither suppose them better nor worse. He is content to let Russia grow up in a Russian garb, animated with a Russian spirit, and moulded by Russian institutions, without the aid either of Parisian communism or British liberalism. The improvements he has effected in the government of his dominions have been vast, the triumphs with which his external policy have been attended unbounded; but they have all been achieved, not in imitation of, but in opposition to, the ideas of western Europe. They bespeak, not less than his internal government, the national character of bis policy. But if success is the test of worldly wisdom, be has not been far wrong in his system; for he has passed the Balkan, heretofore impervious to his predecessors; he has conquered Poland, converted the Euxine into a Russian lake, planted the cross on the Chap.

bastions of Erivan, and opened through subdued Hun- 1_

gary a path to Constantinople. l826'

Nature has given him all the qualities fitted for such an elevated destiny. A lofty stature and princely aiT His persongive additional influence to a majestic countenance, in ance and which the prevailing character is resolution, yet not un- faihns3mixed with sweetness. Like Wellington, Caesar, and many other of the greatest men recorded in history, his expression has become more intellectual as he advanced in years, and became exercised in the duties of sovereignty, instead of the stern routine of military discipline. Exemplary in all the relations of private life, a faithful husband, an affectionate father, he has exhibited in a brilliant court, and when surrounded by every temptation which life can offer, the simplicity and affections of patriarchal life. Yet is he not a perfect character. His virtues often border upon vices. His excellencies are akin to defects. Deeply impressed with the responsibility of his situation, his firmness has sometimes become sternness, his sense of justice degenerated into severity. * He knows how to

* * It is in regard to political offences of a serious dye, however, that this Beverity chiefly applies. In lesser matters, relating to order and discipline, he is more indulgent, and at times generous. At his coronation at Moscow, his eyes met those of General Paskewitch, who had severely upbraided him for some military error at the head of his regiment some years before. 'Do you recollect,' said he, with a stern air,' how you once treated me here 1 The wind has turned ; take care lest I return you the like.' Two days after, he appointed him General-in-Chief."—Schnitzler, ii. 356.

A striking proof of the emperor's simplicity of character is recorded by the Marquis Custine, who had frequent and confidential conversations with him. Speaking of his conduct on the revolt of 26th December, he said: "' J'ignoraiB ce que j'allais faire, j'etais inspire".' 'Pour avoir de pareilles inspirations,' disoit le Marquis, 'il faut les meriter.' 'Je n'ai fait rien d'extraordinaire, repliqua l'Empereur ; 'j'ai dit aux soldats, retournez a vos rangs; et au mo" ment do passer le regiment en revue, j'ai crie", a gonoux. Tous ont obel. Ce qui m'a rendu fort, e'est que l'instant auparavant, j'£tais resigne" a la mort Je suis reconnoissont du Bucces, je n'en suis pas fier; je n'y ai aucun mente.' 'Votre majest6,' r£pliqua Custine, 'a ete sublimo dans' cette occasion." 'Je n'ai pas e'te' sublime,' rcpondit l'empereur,' je n' ai fait que mon metier. En pareille circonstance, nul ne peut savoir ce qu'il dira; on court au-devant du peril, sans so demander comment on s'en tirera.'"—Lb Marquib De Custine, Rimle en 1839, ii. 40, 41, 67. Lamartine has frequently said in society, in re.

Chap. distinguish the innocent from the guilty, and has often VIXI' evinced a noble and magnanimous spirit in separating the 1826- one from the other, and showing oblivion of injury, even kindness to the relatives of those who had conspired against his throne and life. But towards the guilty themselves he has not been equally compassionate. He has not always let the passions of the contest pass away with its termination. He is an Alexander the Great in resolution, but not in magnanimity. He wants the last grace in the heroic character—he does not know how to forgive.

ference to his conduct when he persuaded the people to lay aside the red flag at Paris, on the revolution of 1848, " J'étais sublime ce jour-la." Such is the difference between the simplicity of the really magnanimous and the self-love of those in whom it is deformed by overweening and discreditable vanity. I have heard this aneedote of Lamartine from two ladies of high rank, both of whom heard him use the expression on different occasions in reference to his own conduct, which was really noble and courageous on that day.



BER 1821.

There is no instance in the whole records of history of Chap.

a country which so rapidly recovered from the lowest point —

of depression, as France did in the interval from the close Xj19' of 1816 to the beginning of 1820. Every conceivable oTM»te»Ui ill which could afflict a state seemed to have accumu- at the close lated around it at the commencement of that period. Itsof 1816' capital was taken, its government overturned, its sovereign a dethroned captive, its army defeated and disbanded, and eleven hundred thousand armed men in possession of its territory. Contributions to an enormous and unheard-of extent had been imposed upon its inhabitants; the armed multitude lived at free quarters amongst them, and were supported by exactions coming from their industry; and above sixty millions sterling of indemnities had been levied on them for the allied powers or their subjects. Such was the bequest of the Revolution to France. The inclemency of nature had united with the rigour of man to waste the devoted land. The summer and autumn of 1816 had been beyond all example cold and stormy; the harvest had proved extremely deficient, and prices risen

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