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[1569 A.D.] fire was made in the centre, over which a huge copper cauldron was suspended. The inhabitants, seeing these dreadful preliminaries, believed that the czar's object was to set the city on fire, and consign the people to death; and, flying from the spot, they abandoned their shops and merchandise, leaving their property to the mercy of the select legion. In a few hours Moscow was utterly deserted, and not a living person was to be seen but a troop of the Opritshnina ranged in gloomy silence round the gibbets and blazing fire. Presently the beating of drums rose upon the air, and the czar was seen advancing on horseback, accompanied by his favourite son, and followed by his devoted guards. In the rear came the spectral troop of victims, in number about three hundred, wan and bloody, and hardly able to crawl upon the ground. On perceiving that the theatre of carnage was destitute of an audience, Ivan commanded his soldiers to collect the inhabitants; and, after a short pause, finding that they did not arrive with promptitude, he went in person to demand their presence at the treat he had prepared for them, assuring them at the same time of the good-will he entertained towards them. The wretched Muscovites dared not disobey him, and hurrying in terror from their hiding places, they crowded to the scene of execution, which was speedily filled with spectators even to the roofs of the houses. Then the dreadful rites began. The czar addressed the people with exclamations upon the righteousness of the punishments he was about to inflict, and the people, oppressed with horror, replied in terms of approbation. A crowd of one hundred and twenty victims, who were declared to be less guilty than the rest, were first separated from the others and pardoned. The condemned were called one by one, and some, after hearing the accusation in general terms from the lips of the czar, accompanied by occasional blows on the head from a whip which he held in his hand, were given over to the assassins, who hung them up by the feet, and then cut them to pieces, or plunged them half alive into the boiling cauldron. These executions, which are too horrible to be related in detail, lasted for about four hours; during which time nearly two hundred victims, innocent of the crimes with which they were charged, suffered deaths of the most exquisite and prolonged agony.

A despotism so sanguinary and so wanton was well calculated to endanger the safety of those institutions which the wisdom of others had established. Russia, distracted through all her provinces by the atrocities of Ivan, soon became a prey to those unwearied foes who never lost an opportunity of taking advantage of her domestic difficulties. The declaration of Ivan's supremacy to his unfortunate subjects was, "I am your god as God is mine; whose throne is surrounded by archangels, as is the throne of God." But this piece of blasphemy, which had the effect of making the Russians tremble, only increased the determination of his external enemies. Sweden had already wrested Esthonia from him; Kettler, the last grand-master of the Livonian knights, satisfied himself with Courland and Semigallia; while Battori of Poland, the successor of Sigismund Augustus, deprived him of Livonia, one of the most important points in his dominions. In 1566, Ivan laid before an assembly of the states-general, consisting of a convocation of ecclesiastics, nobles, citizens, and traders, a statement of his negotiations with Poland on the subject of Livonia; but as his real object was to assert his tyrannical power rather than to gain the political advantages he pointed out, the issue of the assembly was merely an admission from all the parties present that the will of the czar was indisputable, and that they had no right even to tender him their advice. The great advantage of recovering Livonia fron Poland was obviously to secure it as an outlet upon the Baltic for Russian


[1569 A.D.] commerce, and as a means of opening a communication with Europe. the ministry of Sylvester and Adaschev belongs the credit of this admirable project; but a design which they would have accomplished with comparative facility, was suffered by Ivan to be wasted in fruitless contentions.

Battori terrified Ivan in the midst of his tyrannies; and the monster who could visit his people with such an example of cruelties, crouched before the king of Poland. His fear of Battori carried him to extremes. He not only supplicated terms at his hands, but suffered him to offer personal insults to the officers who represented the czar at his court. The grovelling measures and cowardice of Ivan disgusted his adversary; and in reply to some fresh instance of dastardly submission, Battori charged him with the grossest crimes with having falsified the articles of treaties, and applied inhuman tortures to his peoples. The letter containing these strong, but just, animadversions, closed with a challenge to single combat, which the poverty of the czar's spirit met by renewed protestations of the most abject character.

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At length, urged by the clamour of his advisers, Ivan organised an army of three hundred thousand men; but, although he could instigate and assist at the most revolting punishments, he shrunk from a personal share in the numerous petty conflicts which took place between his forces and the Livonian knights. Instead of advancing boldly upon the enemy, who could not have maintained war against the superior numbers of the Russians, he suffered himself to be shielded by a jesuit, the pope's envoy, whose intercession with Battori he had procured by representing, with consummate audacity, that he hoped to be able to effect the conversion of the Russians to catholicism. Whenever he fell in with the Livonians, and the collision terminated in victory, he committed the wildest excesses: plundered the captives of their wealth, which he transmitted to his own private coffers, and then sentenced the prisoners to be flung into boiling cauldrons, spitted on lances, or roasted at fires which he amused himself by stirring while the sacrificial murders were in progress. Wars so irregularly conducted, and terminating in such. frightful revenge could not but entail calamities upon the empire. All that was gained by the long struggle for Livonia, was the occasional plunder which Ivan appropriated to himself.

To support the system of profligate expenditure to which the whole life of this extraordinary man inevitably led, he laid on the most exorbitant taxes, and lent himself to the most unjust monopolies. Nor was he satisfied with exceeding in this way the most arbitary examples that had preceded him; but, with a recklessness of human life, and a disregard of the common decencies and obligations of the worst condition of society, he proceeded to rifle his subjects of their private means, sometimes upon slight pretences, but oftener without any pretence whatever. It would almost appear that his appetite for sights of destruction had palled with ordinary gratification; and that he had jaded his invention to discover new modes of cruelty. Having exhausted in all its varieties the mere art of slaughter, he proceeded to make his objects violate before his eyes the sacred feelings of nature. He demanded fratricide and parricide at their hands: one man was forced to kill his father, another his brother: eight hundred women were drowned, and, bursting into the houses of his victims, he compelled the survivors to point out the places where the remnant of their wealth was concealed. His excesses carried him beyond all law, human and divine. He assumed the place, and even usurped

[1582-1584 A.D.] the attributes of the Deity, and identified himself to a proverb with the Creator. Not content with indulging his insane passions in the frenzy of an undisciplined mind, he trampled the usages of Russia under foot, and married seven wives which was held by the tenets of the Greek religion to be a crime of great magnitude.g


The unfortunate issue of the war with Sweden did not however make Ivan the Terrible give up the idea of compensating himself for his losses; he continued to seek for alliances with European states. With this object Theodore Pissemski was sent to England in 1582 with instructions to endeavour to bring about a close alliance with Elizabeth against his enemy the king of Poland, and at the same time to enter into matrimonial negotiations for the czar with the queen's relative, Maria Hastings. The English would not entertain either project, but only sought to obtain an exemption from entry duties for their trade with Russia. In 1583 Jeremiah Bowes was sent to Moscow from England with the delicate mission of attaining this object. The negotiations dragged on a long time; first the czar sent away Bowes and then recalled him again, and in fact they had not come to an end before the death of Ivan the Terrible.b


We have already seen what was the life of Ivan: we shall now see its ending which was equally astonishing - desirable indeed for mankind, but terrifying to the imagination; for the tyrant died as he had lived, that is, exterminating men, although in contemporary narratives there is no mention of his last victims. Strong in bodily constitution, Ivan had hoped for a long life; but what bodily strength could withstand the furious rage of the passions that agitated the sombre existence of the tyrant? The continued outbursts of wrath and fear, the racking of the unrepentant conscience, the odious transports of abominable sensuality, the torments of shame, the impotent fury at the reverses of his arms, finally the horrible remembrance of the murder of his own son, had exhausted the measure of Ivan's strength. At times he experienced a painful languor, the precursory symptom of dissolution, but he struggled against it and did not noticeably weaken until the winter of the year 1584. At that time a comet appeared in the sky between the churches of Ivan the Great and of the Annunciation, which had the form of a cross. Curious to see it, Ivan went out on the red staircase, gazed at it long, grew pale, and said to those around him: "there is the portent of my death." Pursued by this idea, it is said that he caused astrologers and pretended magicians to be sought for throughout Russia and Lapland, brought together about sixty of them, assigned to them a house in Moscow, and daily sent his favourite Belski, to confer with them concerning the comet. Soon he fell dangerously ill. It is said that the astrologers predicted his death on the 18th of March. During February he was still able to occupy himself with affairs; but on the 10th of March a courier was despatched to delay the arrival of the Lithuanian ambassador who was on his way to Moscow, by reason of the illness of the czar. Ivan himself had given the order; he had still hopes of recovery, nevertheless he called together the boyars and com'Oderborn says that a few days before his death Ivan had six noblemen executed. In other narratives it is only said that he destroyed men up to the very end of his life.

[1584 A.D.]

manded that his will and testament should be written down. He declared the czarevitch Theodore heir to the throne and monarchy, and chose wellknown men for councillors to watch over the prosperity of the state and lighten for Theodore (who was feeble both in mind and body) the burden of the cares of the state; these men were: Prince Ivan Petrovitch Shuiski (the famous defender of Pskov), Ivan Mstislavski, son of a niece of the grand prince Vasili, Nikita Romanovitch Iuriev (brother of Ivan's first wife, the virtuous Anastasia), Boris Godunov, and Belski. To the young Dmitri and his mother he assigned the town of Uglitch as appanage, the boy's education to be exclusively confided to Belski. He declared his gratitude to all his boyars and voyevods, calling them his friends and companions in arms in the conquest of unbelieving kingdoms, in the victories gained over the knights of the Livonian order, the khan, and the sultan. He exhorted Theodore to rule piously, lovingly and mercifully, advising him and the five chief dignitaries of the state to avoid war with Christian powers. He spoke of the disastrous consequences of the wars with Lithuania and Sweden, deplored the exhaustion of Russia, enjoined a reduction of the taxes and the liberation of all captives, even of the Lithuanian and German prisoners.

The strength of the sick man presently left him; his thoughts were beclouded; stretched in unconsciousness upon his bed, Ívan called loudly for his murdered son, imagined he saw him and spoke to him tenderly. On the 17th of March he felt better from the effects of a warm bath, so that he commanded the Lithuanian ambassador to come without delay from Mozhaisk to Moscow. The next day (if Horsey is to be believed) he said to Belski, "Go and tell those liars, the astrologers, that they shall die: according to their fables I am to die now, but I feel a great deal better." But, answered the astrologers, the day has not yet passed. A bath was again prepared for the czar in which he remained about three hours, then he lay down on his bed and rested. Soon he asked for a chessboard, and sitting up in bed in his dressing-gown, he himself set up the chessmen and wanted to play with Belski. Suddenly he fell back and closed his eyes for all eternity. doctors rubbed him with strengthening fluids, while the metropolitan probably fulfilling the will of Ivan that had been long known to him - read the prayers for the taking of orders over the dying man, giving him the monastic names of Jona. During these moments a deep silence reigned throughout the palace and the capital; people waited in expectancy, but nobody dared to ask. Ivan lay already dead, yet he appeared still terrible to the surrounding courtiers, who for a long time could not believe their eyes and did not announce his death. On the third day magnificent obsequies took place in the church of St. Michael.



Amidst the various and heavy trials imposed by destiny on Russia, besides the miseries of the feudal or appanage system, besides the Mongolian yoke, Russia had also to bear the ferocity of the autocrat-tormentor: yet she preserved her love for autocracy, believing that plagues, earthquakes and tyrants are sent by God. Instead of breaking the iron sceptre in the hands of Ivan, she bore for twenty-four years with the destroyer, arming herself solely with prayer and patience in order that in happier times she might have a Peter the Great, a Catherine II (history does not like to name The historian Kostomarov relates that Ivan could not set the king in its place and fell back dead as he endeavoured to do so.


[1584 A.D.]

the living1). Magnanimously submissive, the martyrs died on the scaffold like the Greeks at Thermopylæ, for their country, their faith and fealty, without thought of rebellion or riot. In order to excuse Ivan's cruelties some foreign historians have spoken of plots and conspiracies against which they were directed; but such plots only existed in the troubled mind of the czar, as all our chronicles and state papers bear witness. The clergy, the boyars, the prominent citizens would not have called forth the wild beast from his lair of Alexandrovski, if they had had thoughts of the treachery imputed to them with as much absurdity as witchcraft. No, the tiger gorged himself with the blood of the lambs, and his victims, casting a last glance on the distressful earth, demanded from their contemporaries and from posterity both justice and compassionate remembrance.

In spite of all speculative explanations, the character of Ivan, a virtuous hero in his youth, and an insatiable, bloody tyrant in the years of his manhood and old age, remains an enigma, and we should doubt the truth of the most trustworthy narratives concerning him, if the history of other nations did not show us equally astonishing examples; if for instance Caligula, at first a model for sovereigns and afterwards a monster of cruelty-if Nero, the pupil of the wise Seneca, an object of love and an object of loathing, had not reigned at Rome.

Thus Ivan possessed a superior intellect, he was not uneducated, and his knowledge was united to an uncommon gift of speech, yet he was the shameless slave of the most abominable vices. He had an unusually fine memory, he knew the Bible by heart, he was also well acquainted with Greek and Roman history, besides the history of his own country, and only used his knowledge in order to give the most absurd interpretations in favour of tyranny. He boasted of his firmness and self control, because he could laugh loudly in the hour of fear and of inward uneasiness. He boasted of his clemency and generosity, because he enriched his favourites with the possessions of the boyars and citizens who had fallen into disgrace. He boasted of his justice, and punished with equal satisfaction the meritorious and the criminal. He boasted of his sovereign spirit and of knowing how to maintain the sovereign dignity, ordering that an elephant which had been sent to him from Persia should be cut to pieces because the animal would not kneel before him, and cruelly punishing the unfortunate courtiers who dared to play at cards or chess better than his majesty. Finally he prided himself on his deep statecraft in exterminating systematically, at certain fixed epochs, with cold blooded calculation, some of the most illustrious families under the pretext of their being dangerous to the royal power; raising to their rank new and mean families; touching with his destroying hand even the future, for like a swarm of famine-bringing insects, the band of informers, of calumniators, of "opritchniki" that he had formed, left, as they disappeared, the seed of evil among the people, and if the yoke of Bati had lowered the spirit of the Russians, there is no doubt that the reign of Ivan did nothing to raise it.

But justice must be rendered even to a tyrant: even in the extremity of evil, Ivan at times seems the phantom, as it were, of a great monarch, zealous, unwearying, often showing proofs of great penetration in state matters. For valour he liked to compare himself to Alexander of Macedonia, although there was not a shadow of courage in his soul: yet he was a conqueror; in his outward policy he followed unswervingly the great schemes A compliment to Alexander I, the author's patron.] The life guards of Ivan the Terrible.

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