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sheep from Saxony, and shepherds to attend to them, for the sake of the wool; established hospitals, and linen and paper manufactories; encouraged the art of printing; and invited from distant places a variety of artisans to impart to the lower classes a knowledge of useful crafts. These proceedings were treated with levity and contempt by Charles, who appears all throughout to have despised the Russians, and who, engrossed by his campaign in Courland and Lithuania, intended to turn back to Moscow at his leisure, after he should have dethroned Augustus, and ravaged the domains of Saxony.
Unfortunately the divisions that prevailed in the councils of Poland assisted to carry these projects rapidly into effect. Peter was anxious to enter into a new alliance with Augustus, but, in an interview he held with that prince at Birzen, he discovered the weakness of his position and the hopelessness of expecting any effectual succour at his hands. The Polish diet, equally jealous of the interference of the Saxon and Russian soldiery in their affairs, and afraid to incur the hostility of Charles, refused to sanction a league that threatened to involve them in serious difficulties. Hence, Augustus, left to his own resources, was easily deprived of a throne which he seemed to hold against the consent of the people, while Peter was forced to conduct the war alone. His measures were consequently taken with promptitude and decision. His army was no sooner prepared for action than he re-entered Ingria, animating the troops by his presence at the several points to which he directed their movements. In some accidental skirmishes with small bodies of the Swedes, he reaped a series of minor successes, that inspired the soldiers with confidence and improved their skill for the more important scenes that were to follow. Constantly in motion between Pskov, Moscow, and Archangel, at which last place he built a fortress called the New Dvina, he diffused a spirit of enthusiasm amongst the soldiers, who were now becoming inured to action.
An open battle at last took place in the neighbourhood of Dorpat, on the borders of Livonia, when General Sheremetrev fell in with the main body of the enemy on the 1st of January, 1702, and, after a severe conflict of four hours, compelled them to abandon their artillery and fly in disorder. On this occasion, the Swedes are said to have lost three thousand men, while there were but one thousand killed on the opposite side. General Sheremetrev was immediately created a field-marshal, and public thanks were offered up for the victory.
Following up this signal triumph, the czar equipped one fleet upon Lake Peipus to protect the territory of Novgorod, and manned another upon Lake Ladoga, to resist the Swedes in case they should attempt a landing. Thus guarded at the vulnerable points, he was enabled to prosecute his plans in the interior with greater certainty and effect.
Marshal Sheremetrev in the meantime marched upon Marienburg, a town on the confines of Livonia and Ingria, achieving on his progress another triumph over the enemy near the village of Humolova. The garrison at Marienburg, afraid to risk the consequences of a siege, capitulated at once, on condition that the inhabitants should be permitted a free passage, which was agreed to; but an intemperate officer having set fire to the powder magazine, to prevent the negotiation from being effected, by which a number of soldiers on both sides were killed, the Russians fell upon the inhabitants and destroyed the town.
THE ANTECEDENTS OF AN EMPRESS
Amongst the prisoners of war was a young Livonian girl, called Martha, an orphan who resided in the household of the Lutheran minister of Marienburg.
She had been married the day before to a sergeant in the Swedish army; and when she appeared in the presence of the Russian general Bauer, she was bathed in tears, in consequence of the death of her husband, who was supposed to have perished in the melée. Struck with her appearance, and curious to learn the history of so interesting a person, the general took her to his house, and appointed her to the superintendence of his household affairs. Bauer was an unmarried man, and it was not surprising that his intercourse with Martha should have exposed her to the imputation of having become his mistress; nor, indeed, is there any reason, judging by the immediate circumstánces as well as the subsequent life of that celebrated woman, to doubt the truth of the charge. Bauer is said to have denied the fact, which is sufficiently probable, as it was evidently to his interest to acquit the lady of such an accusation; but, however that may be, it is certain that Prince Menshikov, seeing her at the general's house, and
fascinated by her manners, solicited the general to transfer her services to his domestic establishment; which was at once acceded to by the general, who was under too many obligations to the prince to leave him the option of a refusal.
Martha now became the avowed mistress of the libertine Menshikov, in which capacity she lived with him until the year 1704, when, at the early age of seventeen, she enslaved the czar as much by her talents as by her beauty, and exchanged the house of the prince for the palace of the sovereign. The extraordinary influence she subsequently exercised when, from having been the mistress she became the wife of the czar, and ultimately the empress Catherine, developing, throughout the various turns of her fortune, a genius worthy of consort with that of Peter himself, opens a page in history not less wonderful than instructive. The marriage of the sovereign with a subject was common in Russia; but, as Voltaire remarks, the union of royalty with a poor stranger, captured amidst the ruins of a pillaged town, is an incident which the most marvellous combinations of fortune and merit never produced before or since in the annals of the world.
MILITARY SUCCESS: FOUNDATION OF ST. PETERSBURG
The most important operations of the campaign in the year 1702 were now directed to the river Neva, the branches of which issue from the extremity of Lake Ladoga, and, subsequently reuniting, are discharged into the Baltic. Close to the point where the river flowed from the lake was an island, on which stood the strongly fortified town of Rottenburg. This place, maintaining a position that was of the utmost consequence to his future views, Peter resolved to reduce in the first instance; and, after laying siege to it for nearly a month, succeeded in carrying it by assault. A profusion of rewards and honours were on this occasion distributed amongst the army, and a triumphal procession
[1702 A.D.] was made to Moscow, in which the prisoners of war followed in the train of the conqueror. The name of Rottenburg was changed to that of Schlüsselburg, or city of the key, because that place was the key to Ingria and Finland. The solemnities and pomp by which these triumphs were celebrated were still treated with contempt by Charles, who, believing that he could at any moment reduce the Russians, continued to pursue his victories over Augustus. But Peter was rapidly acquiring power in the very direction which was most fatal to his opponent, and which was directly calculated to lead to the speedy accomplishment of his final purpose.
The complete occupation of the shores of the Neva was the first object to be achieved. The expulsion of the enemy from all the places lying immediately on its borders and the possession or destruction of all the posts which the Swedes held in Ingria and Karelia were essential to the plans of the czar. Already an important fortress lying close to the river was besieged and reduced, and two Swedish vessels were captured on the lake by the czar in person. Further successes over the Swedish gun-boats, that hovered near the mouth of the river, hastened his victorious progress; and when he had made himself master of the fortress of Kantzi, on the Karelian side, he paused to consider whether it would be advisable to strengthen that place, and make it the centre of future operations, or push onwards to some position nearer to the sea. The latter proposal was decided upon; and a marshy island, covered with brushwood, inhabited by a few fishermen, and not very distant from the embouchure of the Neva, was chosen as the most favourable site for a new fortress. The place was, by a singular anomaly, called Lust Eland, or Pleasure Island, and was apparently ill adapted for the destinies that in after-times surrounded it with glory and splendour. On this pestilential spot, Peter laid the foundations of the fortress of St. Petersburg, which gradually expanded into a city and ultimately became the capital of the empire.
The country in the neighbourhood of this desolate island, or cluster of swamps, was one vast morass. It did not yield a particle of stone, and the materials with which the citadel was built were derived from the ruins of the works at Nianshantz. Nor were these the only difficulties against which Peter had to contend in the construction of the fortifications. The labourers were not furnished with the necessary tools, and were obliged to toil by such expedients as their own invention could devise. So poorly were they appointed for a work of such magnitude that they were obliged to carry the earth, which was very scarce, from a considerable distance in the skirts of their coats, or in bags made of shreds and matting. Yet the fortress was completed within five months, and before the expiration of a year St. Petersburg contained thirty thousand houses and huts of different descriptions.
So gigantic an undertaking was not accomplished without danger, as well as extreme labour. Peter, who could not be turned aside from his purposes by ordinary obstacles, collected a vast concourse of people from a variety of countries, including Russians, Tatars, Kalmucks, Cossacks, Ingrians, and Finlanders; and employed them, without intermission, and without shelter from an inclement climate of sixty degrees of latitude, in deepening the channels of the rivers and raising the general level of the islands which were in the winter seasons usually sunk in the floods. The severity of the labour, and the insufficiency of provisions, caused a great mortality amongst the workmen. A hundred thousand men are said to have perished in the first year. While this fort was in progress of erection, Peter despatched Menzikov to a little island lying nearer to the mouth of the river, to build another fortress for the protection of the entrance. The model of the fortress
was made by himself in wood. He gave it the name of Kronstadt, which, with the adjacent town and buildings, it still retains. Under the cannon of this impregnable fortress the largest fleet might float in shelter.
The establishment of a new city on so unfavorable a site, and the contemplated removal of the seat of government, received considerable opposition from the boyars and upper classes, as well as from the inferior grades, who regarded the place with terror, in consequence of the mortality it had already produced. The discontent of the lower orders broke out in loud complaints during Peter's temporary absence. No measures short of the most despotic could have compelled the inhabitants of Moscow to migrate to the bleak and dismal islands of the Neva, and Peter was not slow to carry such measures into effect.
If the people could have looked beyond the convenience of the moment into the future prospects of the empire, they must at once have perceived the wisdom of the change. The paramount object of Peter's policy was the internal improvement of Russia. The withdrawal of the nobility, the merchants, and the artisans from their rude capital in the interior, to an imperial seat on the gulf of Finland, by which they would be brought into closer intercourse with civilised Europe, and acquire increased facilities for commercial enterprise, was evidently calculated to promote that object, which was distinctly kept in view in the place upon which the city was built. Peter had not forgotten the practical lessons he had learned during his residence in Holland. That country, the inhabitants of which in Pliny's time were described to be amphibious, as if it were doubtful to which element, the land or the sea, they really belonged, had been redeemed from the ocean by the activity and skill of the people; and Peter, profiting by their experience, adopted Amsterdam as his model in securing the foundations of St. Petersburg. He employed several Dutch architects and masons; and the wharfs, canals, bridges, and rectilineal streets, planted with rows of trees, attest the accuracy with which the design was accomplished. To a neighbouring island, which he made a depot for timber, he gave the name of New Holland, as if he meant to leave to posterity an acknowledgement of the obligations he owed to that country.
The speculations of the czar were rapidly fulfilled in the commercial relations invited by the establishment of St. Petersburg. Five months had scarcely elapsed from the day of its foundation when a Dutch ship, freighted with merchandise, stood into the river. Before the expiration of a year, another vessel from Holland arrived; and the third vessel, within the year, that entered the new port was from England. These gratifying facts inspired confidence amongst those who had been disposed to look upon the project with such hasty distrust; and Peter, whose power was now rapidly growing up on all sides, was enabled to extend his operations in every direction over Ingria. The variety of affairs which, at this juncture, occupied his attention sufficiently proves the grasp of his capacity and the extraordinary energy of his mind. At nearly the same time that he founded a new capital he was employed in fortifying Pskov, Novgorod, Kiev, Smolensk, Azov, and Archangel; and in assisting the unfortunate Augustus with men and money. Cornelius van Bruyer, a Dutchman, who at that period was travelling in Holland, states that Peter informed him that, notwithstanding all these undertakings, he had 300,000 roubles remaining in his coffers, after providing for all the charges of the war.
The advances that the czar was thus making in strengthening and civilising the empire were regarded with such contempt by Charles that he is
reported to have said that Peter might amuse himself as he thought fit in building a city, as he should soon find him to take it from him and set fire to his wooden houses. The Porte, however, did not look with indifference upon his movements, and sent an ambassador to him to complain of his preparations; but Peter replied that he was master of his own dominions, as the Porte was of his, and that his object was not to infringe the peace, but to render Russia "respectable" upon the Euxine.
The time was now approaching when the decision of the disputes in Poland enabled Charles to turn back upon Ingria, where Peter was making so successful a stand. On the 14th of February, 1704, the primate of Warsaw threw off his allegiance to Augustus, who was in due form deposed by the diet. The nomination of the new king was placed in the hands of Charles, who proposed Stanislaus Leszczynski, a young nobleman distinguished for his accomplishments, who was accordingly declared king of Poland and grand duke of Lithuania. But Lithuania had not as yet sent in her adherence to either side; and Peter, still taking a deep interest in the fortunes of Augustus, whose Saxon troops were every day suffering fresh discomfitures from the Swedish army, sent that monarch a reinforcement of twelve thousand men to support his claims in the undecided province. The military force of Russia had now become a formidable body, highly disciplined, and fully equipped; and Peter, without loss of time, in the spring of 1704, disposed the remainder of his army into two divisions, one of which he sent under the command of Field-Marshal Sheremetrev, to besiege Dorpat, while he took in person the conduct of the other against Narva, where he had formerly endured a signal defeat.
Dorpat, which is better known by this siege than by the university which Gustavus Adolphus had previously established there, was forced to capitulate by a ruse de guerre. It was necessary in the first instance to become master of Lake Peipus, for which purpose a Russian flotilla was placed at the entrance of the Embach. Upon the advance of a Swedish squadron a naval battle ensued, which ended in the capture or destruction of the whole of the enemy's fleet. Peter now sat down before Dorpat, but, finding that the commandant held out for six weeks, he adopted an ingenious device to procure entrance into the town. He disguised two regiments of infantry and one of cavalry in the uniforms of Swedish soldiers, giving them Swedish standards and flags. These pretended Swedes attacked the trenches, and the Russians feigned a fight. The garrison of the town, deceived by appearances, made a sortie, when the false attackers and the attacked reunited, fell upon the troops, and entered the town. A great slaughter ensued, and, to save the remainder of the garrison, the commandant surrendered.
At Narva Peter was equally successful. The siege was conducted under his own personal command. Sword in hand, he attacked three bastions that offered the strongest points of defence, carried them all, and burst into the town. The barbarities that ensued were of a nature to revolt even the czar himself. Pillage, slaughter, and lustful excesses were committed by the infuriated men; and Peter, shocked at the cruelties he witnessed, threw himself amongst the barbarians who refused to obey his orders and slew several of them in the public streets. A number of the unfortunate citizens had taken refuge in the hôtel de ville; and the czar, appearing in the midst of them, cast his bloody sword on the table, declaring that it was stained not