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around, and saw him weltering in his blood. He had a large wound in his throat, and he expired without uttering a word. On hearing the cries of the nurse, the czarina ran up, and in the first transports of her despair exclaimed that her son had been assassinated. She flew upon the governess, whose duty it was to take care of him, and beat her furiously with a heavy stick, accusing her of having admitted the murderers who had just slain her son. At the same time, as her thoughts doubtless turned to her recent quarrels with Bitiagovski, she invoked upon that man the vengeance of her brothers and of the servants of her household.
Michael Nagoi now came up, having just left the dinner table, in a state of intoxication, according to the testimony of several witnesses; in his turn he began to beat the poor governess, and ordered that the alarm bell should be rung at the church of the Saviour, which stood near the palace. In an instant the courtyard was filled with inhabitants of Uglitch and domestics, who ran up with pitchforks and hatchets, beieving that the palace of the czarevitch was on fire. With them arrived Bitiagovski, accompanied by his son and by the gentlemen employed in his chancery. He endeavoured to speak, to appease the tumult, and cried out at once that the child had killed himself by falling on his knife in an epileptic fit, from which it was well known that he frequently suffered. "Behold the murderer!" exclaimed the czarina. A hundred arms were immediately raised to strike him. He fled into one of the houses in the enclosure, and barricaded the door; but it was soon burst open, and he was cut to pieces. His son was slain at the same time. Whoever raised his voice in his defence, whoever was known to be connected with him, was immediately struck down and put to death. The governess Vasilissa, covered with blood and half-killed by the blows she had received, lay on the ground near the czarina, bareheaded, and with dishevelled hair; for the servants of the Nagoi had taken off her cap-which was considered by the Russians, at this period, a more infamous outrage even than blows. One of her serfs, compassionating her disgrace, picked up her cap, and replaced it on her head; he was instantly massacred. The furious crowd, still pursuing and murdering those who were pointed out to its vengeance, carried the bleeding body of the czarevitch into the church. Thither they dragged Daniel Volokhov, the son of the governess, who was known to be intimate with Bitiagovski. This was enough to procure his condemnation as an accomplice in the crime; and he was immediately put to death before the eyes of his mother, in front of the body of the young prince. It was with great difficulty that the priests of the church of the Saviour rescued Vasilissa and the daughters of Bitiagovski from the hands of the multitude. All these women, however, were shut up in one of the buildings adjoining the cathedral; and guards were placed at all the approaches.b
Public opinion denounced Boris, and in order to quiet the people he ordered an investigation. His emissaries had the audacity to declare that the young prince, in an access of folly, had cut his own throat, and that the Nagoi and the people of Uglitch had killed, as murderers, men who were innocent. The result of this policy was the extermination of the Nagoi and the depopulation of Uglitch.
Seven years afterward the pious Feodor died: in the person of this pale and virtuous sovereign ended the violent and sanguinary race of men of prey who had made Russia. The dynasty, issue of André Bogoliubski, had accomplished its mission-it had founded a united Russia. The task of bringing into the heart of Europe this semi-Asiatic country was to devolve on another dynasty.f
THE REIGN OF BORIS (1598-1605 A.D.)
In 1598 Boris Godunov, by the voice of the electors and through the intrigues of his friends, ascended the throne of Russia. A crown obtained by indirect and fraudulent measures could not be preserved without tyranny. Boris, conscious of the jealousies which his elevation engendered in the minds of the nobles, and especially in the family of the Romanovs, who were allied to the race of Rurik but not to the Moscow line, was constantly haunted by apprehensions, and sought to lose them in the revel, and to propitiate them by the sacrifice of all persons whom he suspected. Had he been a legitimate sovereign he would have conferred lasting benefits upon his country, because he was a wise and paternal ruler in all matters apart from his personal affairs. He bestowed considerable pains on many laudable measures of improvement; but these were so sullied by acts of merciless revenge, to which he was moved by the danger in which he was placed by his usurpation, that it is difficult to separate his merits from his crimes.
The Tatars of the Crimea, immediately after Boris was proclaimed czar, exhibited a disposition to renew their old hostilities; but Boris promptly turned his attention to that part of the empire, and, assembling a numerous army, availed himself of the opportunity of ingratiating himself with the troops. The descent of the Tatars was merely an idle threat; but the occasion was one which contributed considerably to enlarge the popularity of Boris. He exceeded all his predecessors in the splendour and hospitality of his entertainments, in the frequency of the amusements which he provided for the soldiery and the citizens, and the general amenity and condescension of his bearing in public. It seems to have been the policy of the tyrants of Russia to conciliate the lower orders, in order that they might, with the greater facility, crush the aristocracy, from whom they chiefly dreaded opposition; and Boris was eminently successful in his attempts to ensnare the affections of the multitude, although he had actually deprived them of the only fragment of liberty they possessed.
In the commencement of his reign he evinced a strong desire to cultivate the friendship of the different powers of Europe, from whom severally he received ambassadors at his court; to extend to all his subjects in common the means of procuring cheap and rapid justice, in the fulfilment of which he gave audiences for the purpose of receiving and redressing complaints; and to diffuse abroad a taste for European knowledge and instruction in those arts and sciences which had hitherto been neglected and despised. In some of these wise projects he met great resistance from the clergy, who, released from the presence of a sovereign who ruled them by a mission from heaven, began to exhibit uneasiness and impatience of control. Thus constantly thrown back upon the uncertain tenure of his power, and reminded that he was not a legitimate master, Boris was forced to exert arbitrary and unjust means to maintain his authority. The current of the official and privileged classes was running against him, and he was compelled to erect such defences as the necessities of the occasion required. But even out of this difficulty he contrived to extract some benefits for the country.
For three years a famine fell upon Russia, paralysing the efforts of industry, and spreading misery and distress over the whole empire. Throughout the whole of this calamitous period, Boris incessantly employed himself in devising modes of relief, and levying from the surplus funds of the rich a treasury of alms to alleviate the wants of the poor. Out of his own abundant coffers he daily distributed several thousand rubles, and he forced the nobility
BORIS GODUNOV, IN RETIREMENT AT THE MONASTERY, INTREATED TO
(Painted for the HISTORIANS' HISTORY OF THE WORLD by Thure de Thulstrup)
[1598 A.D.] and the clergy, who, with a grasping avariciousness, kept aloof from the miseries that surrounded them, to open their granaries, and to sell him their stores of corn at half price, that he might distribute it gratuitously amongst the impoverished people. These exactions depressed the wealthy, and won the gratitude of the needy; but still they were insufficient to meet the whole demand of poverty. Great numbers died, and Boris, unable to provide sustenance for them while living, caused them to be buried with respect, furnishing to each corpse a suit of linen grave-clothes.
These benevolent exertions of Boris were viewed with distrust and malice by the nobility, who clearly enough discerned the policy that lay at the bottom. Their murmurs arose in private, and gradually assumed a sterner expression in public. At the feasts, and even in the court itself, the signs and words of disaffection could not be misunderstood. The insecurity of his position urged Boris to protect himself by a machinery of terror. Into a small space of time he crowded a number of executions, and consigned several of the discontented grandees to imprisonment and exile. His alarm magnified his danger, and supplied him with expedients of cruelty. At his own banquets he did not hesitate to rise up and denounce particular individuals, who were immediately seized upon by his adherents, and either put to death or cast into dungeons, or banished, and their properties confiscated to the state. Despotism penetrated to all classes; the peasantry, bound to the soil, were further oppressed by penal laws.
Amongst other sanguinary provisions, it was enacted that all the individuals of a family were held to be involved in the punishment of a single member. It was also declared that every Russian who passed beyond the frontiers was a rebel to his country and a heretic. A father was invested with all the powers of a despot in his hut, and allowed to inflict summary punishment upon his wife and children, the latter of whom he was permitted to sell four times; and this regulation was annulled only by the bondage to the fief, which substituted a worse tyranny for the domestic slavery. The merciless rule of Boris may be regarded as the consequence of his situation, which exposed him to hazards from which he could not escape except by some such decisive and terrible measures. The iron sway pressed down the expiring spirit of licentious freedom. The wandering minstrels who had hitherto travelled through the country, perpetuating in their songs the historical glories of Russia, and inspiring the people with proud sentiments of national emulation, disappeared. The metrical chronicles perished in the general dismay. The immediate result of this struggle to preserve the object of his guilty ambition was an extensive emigration of the peasantry, who fled from the scene of misery to embrace the wild freedom of the Cossacks or seek protection from the king of Poland; and an atrocious jacquerie succeeded, which was, for a short time, triumphant.g
Never had the government of Boris met with fewer obstacles; never had the authority of a czar appeared more firmly established. At peace with foreign powers, and quietly watching the conflicts of his neighbours, he applied himself to the task of civilising his people, of encouraging commerce, and of establishing an exact system of police in all the provinces of his empire. Every one of his acts was received with submission and executed with alacrity; but, nevertheless, all minds were agitated by a secret disquietude. The czar could not conceal from himself the aversion with which he was regarded by the Russians; all classes, nobles and serfs, alike detested him. He saw all his intentions, all his decrees interpreted as violations of the laws of the country. At this period of benighted ignorance the Russians, even of the