Изображения страниц

From the Athenaeum. without just causa, to secret violence, Boris Demetrius the Impostor. An Episode in did ascend the throne. For five years be Russian History. By PROSPER MERIMEE. reigned as Tsar; governing with great energy, Translated by Andrew R. Scoble. Bentley.. become universally hated. The Russians were

but with such haughtiness and cruelty as to The history of the Russian adventurer De- exasperated, and were in a state of mind to metrius, by M. Mérimée, has a double in- hail any one who should promise to deliver terest; it is one of the most stirring episodes them from the tyranny of Boris. Such a man in the annals of Russia — and it is one of the appeared. inost remarkable examples on record of a species of historical illusion of which almost all Suddenly a surprising rumor was brought parts of the world have furnished characteris- from the frontiers of Lithuania, and spread with tio instances — but which has not yet received incredible rapidity through all the provinces of a sufficiently profound investigation at the the empire. The Tsarevitch Demetrius, who was hands of philosophic historians. Many places believed to have been assassinated at Ooglitch, of the world have produced impostors, who, was still living in Poland. Having been favorapersonating dead men, and laying claim to bly received by a palatine, he had made himsell their honors, have for a time had a career of known to the principal nobles of the republic, success. The Perkin Warbeck of English throne. It was related that he had wandered

and was preparing to reclaim his hereditary History is no solitary example of imposture for some time in Russia, concealed beneath the aiming at a crown. "But perhaps in no case frock of a monk. The archimandrite of the conhas imposture been associated with so many vent of the Saviour at Novgorod-Severski had circumstances disposing us partially to re- given him a lodging without recognizing him spect it, and even to question whether, after The prince had proceeded from thence to Kief, All, it was imposture in the strictest sense of leaving in his cell a note, in which he declared the term, as in the case of the pseudo-Tsar, that he was Demetrius, the son of Ivan the Demetrius.

Terrible, and that he would one day recompense Ivan the Terrible had died in 1584, leaving the hospitality of the archimandrite. On the his elder son Feodor to succeed hini on the other hand, it was stated that persons worthy of throne, and a younger son, Demetrius, the belief had seen the Tsarevitch among the Zapoissue of a seventh marriage, and a mere infant, rogue. Cossacks, taking part in their military as presumptive heir. Feodor, who was weak expeditions, and distinguishing himself by his and unable to rule personally, governed The name of the ataman under whose orders be

courage and address in all warlike experiences. by his brother-in-law, Boris Goudonos, a man had enrolled himself was also given. Other auof great ability, but severe, tyrannical, and un- thorities declared that they had seen the same popular. By the orders of Boris, the Tsar- personage, at the same time, studying Latin at evitch Demetrius (the Tsar's son) was educat- Huszcza, a small town in Volhynia. Though ed at Ooglitch, under the care of his mother, reports were contradictory as to details, they au the Tsarina-Dowager and his uncles. He agreed on this one point — that Demetrius was had grown up to be a mad, ferocious imp, of still living, and that he intended to call the ten years of age, when, one day in May, usurper to account for all his crimes. About 1591, he was found in the court-yard of the the middle of the year 1603, at Brahin, in palace, with his throat cut. Whether he Lithuania, a young man, who had been for some had been murdered, or whether he had acci- time attached to the service of Prince Adam dentally fallen in an epileptic fit on a knife valet de chambre, declared to him that he was

Wiszniowieki, in the capacity of equerry or with which he was playing at the time, could the Tsarevitch Demetrius. He related that s not be ascertained. The people about the physician named Simon, a Wallachian or German palace, however, and the populace of Ooglitch by birth, having become acquainted with the believed that he had been murdered ; and a sinister designs of Boris, or rather having redreadful riot ensued, during which various ceived large offers from him to destroy the life persons were killed on suspicion. The Regent of the presumptive heir, had feigned consent, in Boris, having instituted an inquiry into the order that he might better frustrate the plans case, exculpated the supposed murderer, in- of the tyrant. On the night fixed for the assassificted the severest punishment on the rioters, nation, this faithful servant had placed in the and caused it to be declared that the Tsar-bed of the Tsarevitch the child of a surf, of about evitch had died by an accident. The belief, the same age, who had been put to death. Feel however, that he had been murdered still re-ing, convinced that Feodor was so completely mained ; and it was whispered about that the under the influence of Boris that it would be in murderer was no other than the Regent Bois possible to obtain justice from him, the physician himself, who had removed the young Tsar- and had afterwards confided him to the care of a

had fled from Ooglitch with young Demetrius; ovitch to prepare for his own accession to the gentleman devotedly attached to his family, who, throne,

in order to guard him more effectually from the On the death of Feodor, which occurred in hatred of Boris, had made him enter a convent. 1598, and which was also attributed, though | The physician was dead, as well as the gentle

man to whom he had confided the prince. In the defeat of the forces of Boris, and the death the absence of these two witnesses, the unknown of Boris himself, he was able to enter Moscow produced a Russian seal, bearing the name and in triumph, M. Mérimée gives a succinet but arms of the Tsarevitch, and a golden cross clear account. Entering Moscow on the 20th adorned with precious stones of considerable of June, 1605, Demetrius immediately assumed value. This, he said, was the present which; the reins of government, and sent for his according to Russian usage, he had received betrothed Marina, the daughter of Mniszek, to from his godfather, Prince Ivan Mstislavski, on the day of his baptism. The young man, who share his throne. The marriage was celebrated declared that he was the son of Ivan, appeared with feasts and ceremonies of barbaric pomp ; to be about twenty or twenty-two years of age. and the only drawback to the universal rejoioIf Demetrius had lived he would have been ing was, the discontent of some of the Russian twenty-two years old in 1603. He was small of boyards with the introduction of so many stature, but broad-shouldered, and possessed of foreigners into Moscow, and with the favor remarkable vigor and agility. His hair was shown to them and their religion by the new sandy, indeed almost red, in color ; his eyes Tsar. The conduct of the young im postor in were of a pale blue, and yet his complexion was his capacity as ruler is thus described by M. very swarthy, as is frequently the case with the Mérimée, who evidently regards him as a man inhabitants of cold countries. It was well known of no ordinary character :that Maria Fëdorovna, the mother of Demetrius, was quite a brunette, and that Ivan the Terrible His conduct and all his habits contrasted sinwas rather below the middle height. Those who gularly with those of his predecessors. He was remembered the Tsar Ivan perceived a family resolved to reign by himself, to know everything, likeness in the face of the unknown ; and yet, to see everything with his own eyes. Busmanot, the Tsar was a handsome man, whilst the feat- though always treated by him with the greatest ures of his pretended son were not at all pro- distinction, and even with friendship, quickly possessing. Several of his contemporaries, who perceived that it would not be easy to govern had frequent opportunities of seeing him, repre- this young man of twenty-three years old, whose sent himn to have had a large face, prominent Mentor he had undoubtedly hoped to become. cheek-bones, a flat nose, thick lips, and little or no Demetrius would have neither favorite nor beard ; and this description corresponds almost master. He was determined that all should exactly with his portrait in the Academy of St. bend to his will, and yet, despot though he was, Petersburg, and with an engraving published in he was fond of discussion, and allowed his boyards Poland in 1606. We notice in it, as it were, an the most complete liberty to contradict him. He exaggeration of the Slavic type, associated with daily presided over his council ; and his proan expression of remarkable firmness and energy. digious memory, his quickness of perception, The unknown further exhibited two warts which and his penetration, confounded his ministers. he had, one on his forehead and the other under They inquired where he could have gained such his right eye. One of his arms, also, was rather a thorough acquaintance with the state of his longer than the other. All these signs, appar- empire, its wants and its resources. Though ently, were well known to have been remarked tolerating and even inviting contradiction, he too in the child who had died at Ooglitch.

frequently abused his superiority to rail pitilessly

at adversaries whom he had convinced of misIt was in Poland, then a more powerful take, or whom respect had reduced to silence. country than Russia, and not well 'disposed His pleasantries left wounds as deep as the intowards Boris, that the young Pretender sults of a capricious and unreasoning tyrant gained his first adherents and matured his could have produced. Moreover, he too openly scheme of invasion. His most active friend displayed a partial preference for foreign cuswas George Mniszek, Palatine of Sendomir covites. He was incessantly quoting the es

toms, which shocked the prejudices of the Muse – with whose beautiful daughter the ad. ample of Poland, that ancient enemy of Russin, venturer fell in love. The exertions of this and extolling on every occasion the superiority friend won over the Papal Nuncio at the of her laws and of her civilization. « Travel, Polish court, and also Sigismund, King of and gain instruction," he would say to his Poland. Many of the adherents of Demetrius boyards, you are savages ; you need the polish really believed in his claims as Tsarevitch ; of education.” These jests upon the ignorance others sided with him on grounds of policy of his subjects were never forgiven ; for that Sigismund, for example, out of hostility to ignorance, in the eyes of many persons, bore a Russia, and the Papal legate out of a hope, sacred character, akin to that of the ancient rosuggested by the adventurer, that his acces- ligion and time-honored customs of the country. sion to the Russian throne would be favorable When he entered Moscow, it was still a prey to to the interests of the Latin Church in that the ravages of famine, and misery prevailed country. By one means or another, Deme- remedying this sad state of things by wise regu

throughout the city. He succeeded in promptly trius got together a considerable force of Poles, lations which, by encouraging commerce and the Cossacks and Germans — and invaded Russia, importation of food, soon produced abundance in where there was already an enthusiastic dis- the place of dearth. He also applied himself, position to receive him as the lawful Tsar. from the very outset of his reign, to reforming of the progress of the impostor's arms, till by the administration of justice, by setting bounds

to the rapacity of the judges, and prohibiting | before taking his meals, and he sometimes rose the slowness of their proceedings. Following the abruptly from table without washing his hands. example of many Tsars whose memory was This was then considered the height of impiety. cherished in the traditions of the people, he ap- Another crime imputed to him was, that he did peared every Sunday and Wednesday on the not go regularly to the bath on Saturdays. Ou threshold of his palace, and there received all the day of his coronation, one of the Polish petitions with his own hand. He interrogated Jesuits who had accompanied him paid him a his petitioners with kindness, listened patiently compliment in Latin, which no one understood, to their statements, and frequently terminated and the Tsar, perhaps, as little as any one ; but with a single word an affair which had lasted the devotees had no doubt that the speech con for long years. If he found it necessary to re- tained horrid blasphemies against the national ject a request, he did it with so much consider- religion, for all knew that Latin was the lanateness, that his obliging words gave almost guage of the Papists. Sometimes, when speakas much satisfaction as if he had granted a ing to Russian ecclesiastics, he used the expresfavor. His indefatigable activity of mind and sions, " Your religion, your worship.It was body astonished all his court, but the Muscovites, inferred from this that he had his own particular accustomed to the solemn etiquette of their Tsars, religion, which could be nothing else than the thought that he was sometimes wanting in dig- Latin heresy. At one of the sittings of the imnity. For example, instead of going to church perial council, it was represented to him that a in a carriage, according to custom, he repaired proposition which he had just brought forward thither on horseback, and frequently on a restive was condemned by the seventh occumenical counsteed, which he took delight in managing. ..cil, the last whose authority is recognized by the In former times, Tsars never passed from one Greek Church. “Well," he replied, “what of room into another, without being supported that? the eighth council may, very likely, come under the arms by several of their courtiers. to a contrary decision on the matter." They were guided and led about like children in leading-strings. All these tiresome ceremonies Besides devoting his attention to internal were now set aside. The new Tsar went out of reforins, Demetrius cherished schemes for his palace without informing any one, almost aggrandizing Russia among the nations, and always without a guard, executing on the spur for placing her at the head of a great Panof the moment any thought that occurred to his slavic empire. For this purpose, he broke mind. He walked on foot through the town, with Sigismund, King of Poland, and made sometimes inspecting the works of a cannon- preparations for a war against him. But in foundry which he had just established at Moscow, the midst of his projects, and when, as yet, sometimes entering into the shops, chatting with he had reigned but a few months, he was surthe merchants, especially with foreigners, and prised by a conspiracy, the leaders of which displaying great curiosity to examine everything were some of the Russian boyards whom he and become acquainted with the instruments and had most favored. His imprudence and conproducts of their industry. His chamberlains and body-guards frequently had to look for him tidence prevented him from taking means to in street after street, and found it extremely dif- protect himself; and on the night of the 28th ficult to find him again. Whenever he heard of of May, 1606, his palace was attacked, bimany new branch of industry, he immediately self slain, and a vast number of Poles were became desirous to introduce it into Russia, and massacred in the streets of Moscow. M. made the most advantageous offers to skilful Mérimée thus describes the death of the inartisans and enlightened merchants, in order to postor :induce them to settle in his dominions. He was fond of the arts, and particularly of music. It As for Demetrius, seeing the first door of the is said that he was the first tsar who took vocal palace broken through, and feeling convinced and instrumental performers into his service. that all resistance was useless, he threw down During his meals, symphonics were executed his sword, ran through the apartments of the a Polish fashion, then newly introduced, and Tsarini, and made his way to the chamber mest regarded almost as scandalous by the Russians. remote from the place which the rebels were Many persons would have preferred that he assailing. He had, it is said, received a sabre should have got drunk with his buffoons, like wound in his leg. However, he opened a window Ivan the Terrible, rather than that he should which looked into the open space where the listen to German or Polish musicians.

palace of Boris, which he had ordered to be deHis skill in all warlike exercises, and his dash- molished, had formerly stood ; the window Fas ing intrepidity, gained him the admiration of his more than thirty feet above the ground, but soldiers, and especially of the Cossacks; but the there was no one in the neighborhood, and he mass of the nation found it difficult to reconcile jumped down. In his fall he had the misfortune this restlessness and taste for useless dangers to break his leg, and the pain was so intense that with the idea which they had formed to them- he fainted. A moment after he recovered his selves of a Tsar of all the Russias. Scrupulous consciousness, and his groans attracted the atpersons, in particular, found much to complain tention of a few Strelitz from & neighboring of in his conduct, in all that regarded religious guard-house, who recognized him. Moved with practices. He was inattentive at divine service, compassion, these soldiers lifted him up, gare he frequently forgot to salute the holy images him some water to drink, and seated him on s


stone which remained of the foundations of the nof, the founder of the present Russian dypalace of Boris. The Tsar now regained sufficient nasty (March, 1613). These events, constistrength to speak to the soldiers, who swore to tuting a kind of appendage to the proper defend him. In fact, when the rebels came to biography of the first Demetrius, are also nardemand their prey, they replied by discharging rated in considerable detail by M. Mérimée. their arquebuses, and killed several of the foremost rioters. But soon the crowd increased, origin of Demetrius, his real naine, and his

So far as M. Mérimée is concerned, the real attracted by the tumult, and by shouts that the real antecedents, still remain involved in mysTsar had at length been discovered. The Strelitz were surrounded and threatened ; they were tery. We are somewhat disappointed at called upon to give up the impostor, or the mob this — though probably it was inevitable in would go to their suburb and massacre their the state of the evidence ; and we are also a wives and children, who had been left there little disappointed that M. Mérimée has not defenceless. Then the frightened Strelitz laid attempted a more profound appreciation of down their arms, and abandoned the wounded the character and aims of the impostor, and man. With horrible acclamations of triumph, the of the function of imposture in general as multitude fell upon him, and dragged him, with illustrated by his case. The book is, neverblows and imprecations, to a room in the palace, theless, a beautiful piece of historical writing, which had been already pillaged. As Demetri- and a valuable contribution to our knowledge us, in the power of his executioners, passed be- of Russian history. It appears to be well fore his prisoner body-guards, he extended his hand towards them in token of farewell, but did

translated. not utter a word. One of his gentlemen, a Livonian, named Furstenberg, transported with

TO AN ABSENT WIFE. rage, attempted though unarmed, to defend him. The rebels transfixed the brave fellow with a thousand blows, whilst he was vainly endeavor. ing to preserve his master. If Demetrius was 'Tis Morn— the sea-breeze seems to bring not instantaneously massacred, it was only be

Joy, health, and freshness on its wing ; cause the ingenious hatred of his assassins wished

Bright flowers, to me all strange and new, to prolong his sufferings. He was stripped of his

Are glittering in the early dew, imperial robes, and the caftan of a pastrycook was

And perfumes rise from every grove, thrown over him. “Look at the Tsar of all the

As incense to the clouds that move Russias !" shouted the rebels. “He has now put

Like spirits o'er yon welkin clear ; on the dress which befits him." Dog of a bas

But I am sad - thou art not here! tard,” said a Russian gentleman," tell us who 'Tis Noon — a calm, unbroken sleep you are, and whence you came !" Demetrius Is on the blue wave of the deep; collected all his remaining strength, and, raising A soft haze, like a fairy dream, his voice, said : “ Every one of you knows that Is floating over wood and stream, I am your Tsar, the legitimate son of Ivan Vas And many a broad magnolia flower, silievitch. Ask my mother if it is not so; or, if Within its shadowy woodland bower, you desire my death, at least give me time to Is gleaming like a lonely star, confess myself.” Thereupon, a trader named But I am sad - thou art afar ! Valouïef, breaking through the press, cried out, “Why talk so long with this dog of a heretic?

'Tis Eve-on earth the sunset skies This is how I'll shrive this Polish piper !"

Are printing their own Eden dyes ; And he fired a shot from his arquebus into the

The stars come down and trembling glow, breast of the Tsar, which put an end to his

Like blossoms on the wave below, agony.

And like an unseen spirit, the breeze The death of Demetrius did not end the

Seems lingering 'mid the orange trees,

Breathing its music round the spot ; curious episode in Russian history of which

But I am sad - I see thee not ! he was the chief figure. The conspirators raised their leader, Basil Schuisky, to the

'Tis Midnight - with a soothing spell throne; but the country continued in a state

The far-off tones of ocean swell — of commotion and revolt – partly on account

Soft as the mother's cadence mild,

Low bending o'er her sleeping child , of the regrets of many of the people who admired the slain usurper

And on each wandering breeze are heard partly on account

The rich notes of the mocking-bird, of the fresh attempts of new adventurers, who In many a wild and wondrous lay ; pretended that Demetrius had not been slain, But I am sad — thou art away! but escaped. With one of these, who assumed to be Demetrius himself, Marina, the wife of

I sink in dreams — Low, sweet and clear,

Thy own dear voice is in mine ear ; the slain Tsar, associated herself — though

Around my cheek thy tresses twine, with a very bad grace. At length, order was

Thy own loved hand is clasped in mine, restored by the deposition of Basil, the Thy own soft lip to mine is pressed, assassination of the second Demetrius, and Thy head is pillowed on my breast; the elevation to the throne. by a patriotic Oh, I have all my heart holds dear faction, of a native nobleman, Michael Roma And I am happy — thou art here !

· 12




From Household Words. prosperity had risen, and for warning that the SEVENTY-EIGHT YEARS AGO.

same brief space might suffice for its not less

rapid fall. *Here was one, said Burke, who As late as eight-and-twenty years since, had lived in days when America served for across the open road at the great western little more than to amuse Dutch William's entrance into London, between the triple subjects with stories of savage men and archway and screen of the Park and the uncouth manners; who had survived to days triumphal gateway of Constitution Hill, there when as much as England had won through stretched a turnpike with double lodges. To the civilizing conquests and settlements of that turnpike, half a century earlier, I wish seventeen hundred years, had been added to the reader to accompany me. An unusual her by that very America in the course of number of people are collected (it is Thurs- half a century; and who yet might be spared day, the 3rd of August, 1775) to see the king to see these fruits of man's energy blasted by and queen returning from the drawing-room man's folly, and all this glorious prosperity It is not much of a show. Not even a gilt withered and passed away. As merely a coach figures in it, or a prancing horse, or a burst of eloquence, this was a thing to be company of lancers or dragoons. Only a stir remembered ; but to the stranger of whom I is perceived at the further end of the crowd, speak it possessed a nearer interest. For if two lines are formed, and through them come the resolutions with which it closed had not two sedan chairs, each surmounted by a crown been contemptuously rejected, the revolution and borne by two men in the royal liveries - which had driven him here into exile might majesty in the one exhibiting itself in very not in his days have begun. If concession to light cloth with silver buttons ; and in the those American colonies of the right of taxing other wearing lemon-colored flowered silk on themselves, of the right of trial in places a light cream-colored ground. And so, where offences were committed, and of the between the two lines, observing, smiling, and privilege of juries in admiralty courts, had bowing as they pass, George the Third and found more than seventy-eight supporters in a Queen Charlotte move away; and the sight house of three hundred and forty-eight memis over.

bers the peal of musketry which had broken But even then, for one person in the crowd, over Lexington might not have been heard by the scene appears not to lose all its interest. that generation; and Mr. Samuel Curwen, He is a small, thin, precise-looking man, in a prosperous merchant and judge of admiralty dress of grave, square cut, with a large bush at Salem in New England, would not have wig, very sharp features, long nose and chin, found himself, a sudden fugitive from home, a keen, restless eye, a step as active and firm standing before Apsley House that August as though it carried sixteen instead of sixty afternoon. winters, and a complexion certainly not tanned Two days after the Lexington affair he had by an English sun. But he speaks English ; taken flight from the port of Boston. His and, asking of one who stands near what that little native town of Salem was then in a noble red-brick house is that bears the look flame. Some weeks earlier he bad been of having sprung up quite recently at the gate pointed at and denounced for an ardent of Hyde Park, is told that it has just been loyalist; but when the new militia bands had built by the Lord Chancellor Apsley, on once crossed arms with the king's troops, this ground taken out of the park, and given him feeling broke all bounds. Everywhere men for the purpose by the king.

who had claimed the right to uphold opinions The stranger had probably more interest in adverse to those of the majority of their fel. the answer than he expected when he put the low-citizens, were driven forth with ignominy. question. Within that house, he could We are told to forgive our enemies, was the hardly fail then to remember, there lived with fierce cry which rose on all sides, but we are Chancellor Apsley his father, Lord Bathurst, not told to forgive our friends. Mr. Curwen the celebrated friend of Pope and Swift ; from thought he might possibly escape unmolested whose life, wanting now but nine years to in Philadelphia ; but on arriving there, in his complete its cycle of a century, Burke had precipitate flight from Boston, he found the drawn the happy illustration which he had militia as eager to put shoulder to shoulder thrown out six months ago in the House of in peaceful Pennsylvania, as he had left them Commons, in a speech already admired of all in puritan Massachusetts ; drums were beatmen, but to the man now standing by Apsley ing, colors Aying; and he saw two companies gate more than commonly impressive. Hav- of armed quakers, commanded by Friend ing to move certain resolutions for a basis of Samuel Marshall, and Friend Thomas Miffin, conciliation with our American colonies in parading the streets of the drab-coated city. the dispute at this time raging, the great So there was nothing left for this poor exorator had pointed to Lord Bathurst's venera- colonial judge of admiralty, but to put bimble age, for proof that within the short period self on board a schooner bound for England, of the life of inan our commercial and colonial and try to find with us the liberty of opinion

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »