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THE

ECLECTIC REVIEW,

FOR MAY, 1826.

Art. I. Alexander I. Emperor of Russia : or a Sketch of his Life,

and of the most important Events of his Reign. By H. E. Lloyd,

Esq. 8vo. pp. 350. Price 15s. London. 1826. IF F it be at all times, and under all circumstances, far from

easy to form a correct estimate of the character of monarchs, the difficulty increases in a tenfold degree when the qualities of a Russian autocrat are subjected to the investigation of his contemporaries. We are too apt to imagine that a despotic sovereign is perfectly unshackled ; that his counsels are free from the distraction of conflicting, or the embarrassment of overbearing interests; that his measures, whether for good or for evil, are self-originated and unimpeded ; that his choice of instruments depends entirely on his own judgement; and that the principles of his rule may be fairly inferred from the moral aspect of his reign, the effects of his political system, and the general condition of his people. It may be true, that these are the only materials within our reach, and equally so, that they shall prove quite insufficient for the specific purpose. The veriest tyrant is more or less under restraint. There are considerations of inevasible urgency, impulses and resistances that set arbitrary power at defiance, controlling influences to which the most absolute will must yield; and no history can exem- : plify the operation of these circumstances more emphatically than that of Russia. There are three tremendous agencies, of which the Tsar must be in continual dread,--the nobility, the army, and the people. Among the first, there has hitherto been no difficulty in finding conspirators and assassins ; the second is a two-edged weapon, as dangerous to the unskilful wielder as to the enemy; and for the third, no mob is so irritable and sanguinary as a rabble of slaves. It is vastly easy to sit down in the safety and quietness of private life in a free country, and define the canons of policy and morality by which, Vol. XXV. N.S.

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a ruler thus situated shall regulate his conduct; but it would-we do not say that it should-become a very different affair, were we personally concerned in the matter. Commanding intellect, unyielding firmness, consummate intrepidity and selfpossession, above all, stern and uncompromising moral prirciple must combine with kind and beneficent feelings, to make up, a temper equal to the full requisitions of so trying an elevation.

We have no inclination, certainly, to depreciate the character of the late Emperor Alexander, but we cannot take it even as approaching to our beau idéal in the present case. That he was a man of good intentions and respectable talents, we are quite willing to believe, but it must be kept in view, that a much higher order of faculty is required in the master of a realm of slaves, than will be efficient in the governor of a free and represented people. The former has no check to his caprice, but in the exercise of his own judgement; no aid to his administration in open and unrestrained counsel and rebuke: the latter has an adviser in every subject, through the different media of public discussion. The chief of a popular government is the president of a well ordered mechanism, and has little more to do than to watch over the regularity of its movements, and to provide for the maintenance of its integrity and activity ; while an autocrat is himself the machine, if that can be rightly so termed, which is subject to no prescribed law of action, and of which the principles are altogether uncertain. Hence, if a despotic monarch be of a character distinguished by moral and intellectual excellence, his sway may have some advantages, in unity of counsel and promptitude of execution, over the administration of a constitutional chief. Happily, however, for mankind, the value and efficacy of government are not to be estimated by the exception, but by the rule : for one Titus, there are twenty Domitians; and were the proportion reversed, there would be more lost, on the despotic system, in stability, strength, and energy, than might be gained in less essential qualities of security and power.

From all, then, that we have ever heard of the Emperor Alexander, he appears to have been a striking instance of the incompetency of excellent dispositions and fair abilities to struggle with the inherent difficulties of an arbitrary government. We have not the smallest doubt of the purity of his intentions, nor of the sincerity of his earlier exertions in behalf of his degraded people. Had he been a free agent, or bad he possessed that higher order of faculty and determination which would have enabled bim to trample upon impossibilities,' we have assurance that his plans for the intellectual, moral, and political advancement of his people would have been triumphantly followed up, and that he would never have yielded to the fatal influences which suspended his career of glory. Nor were his deficiencies adequately supplied by his choice of a minister, although that choice reflected the highest honour on the motives and feelings that prompted it. The spirit of the amiable and excellent Gallitzin seems to have been better suited to the offices of that warm and sacred friendship which, as he never abused, so he never lost, than to the mastery of a turbulent nobility, a ferocious soldiery, a people ignorant and shackled, and, from those very circumstances, requiring the incessant vigilance of a jealous police. The following illustrations of Alexander's affectionate feelings are, we suppose, authentic; but, even if otherwise, they speak strongly in favour of the monarch respecting whom such anecdotes are circulated with acceptance.

• From his earliest years, he was remarkable for his respect and attachment to the persons entrusted with his education, and for his exemplary conduct towards his mother, the Empress Maria, which truly deserved the name of filial piety, being in him a feeling next akin to religion, a holy flame which burnt with unvarying splendour from his childhood to his grave. So entirely innate in him was this feeling, that he beheld with abhorrence, and, when the occasion served, marked by his serious displeasure, any violation of the Divine precept, “ Honour thy mother;" and it was but a few months before his death, that a young prince, who had treated his mother with disrespect, received orders to reside only in Moscow, under the special superintendence of Prince Golyzin, the military governor-general, and of the guardians appointed for him, who were at the same time commanded to take the administration of his property into their hands. He not only treated his tutors with respect while under their care, but continued through life to give them proofs of his gratitude and affection. For Count Soltikoff he shewed unabated veneration during his life, and in 1818, followed his corpse, on foot and bareheaded, to the grave. Of his regard for Colonel Laharpe, many instances are recorded, of which the following may find a place here.

• His attachment to Laharpe was rather filial than that of a pupil; his greatest delight was in his society, and he would cling round his neck in the most affectionate embraces, by which frequently his clothes were covered with powder. “ See, my dear prince,” Laharpe

“ what a figure you have made yourself. 66 Oh, never mind it," Alexander replied; “ no one will blame me for carrying away all I can from my dear preceptor.” One day he went to visit Laharpe, as was his custom, alone; the porter was a new servant, and did not know him; he asked his name, and was answered Alexander. The porter then led him into the servants' hall, told him his master was at his studies, and could not be disturbed for an hour. vants' homely meal was prepared, and the prince was invited to partake of it, which he did without affectation. When the hour was ex,

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pired, the porter informed Laharpe that a young man of the name of Alexander had been waiting some time, and wanted to see him. “ Shew him in." But what was Laharpe's surprise to see his pupil ! He wished to apologize; but Alexander, placing his finger on his lips, said, My dear tutor, do not mention it; an hour to you is worth a day to me; and besides, I have had a hearty breakfast with your servants, which I should have lost, had I been admitted when I came." The poor porter's feelings may be better imagined than described ; but Alexander, laughing, said, " I like you the better for it, you are an honest servant, and there are a hundred rubles to convince you that I think so.”

• When he was at Paris in 1814, he paid a visit to the wife of M. Laharpe. As she remained standing, he said to her, “ You are much altered, madam.” “ Sire," she replied, “ I, like others, have suffered from circumstances."-" You mistake me; I

mean that

you do not sit down, as you used to do, by your husband's pupil, and chat familiarly with him.

pp. xv-xix. Mr. Lloyd justly remarks, that a relish for the simple beauties of nature' is a highly favourable testimony to character; and he states that Alexander had much of this feeling. The instance, however, which he gives, can hardly be considered as in point. The view from Richmond Hill, which the Emperor considered as the most lovely that he had ever

beheld,' betrays in its peculiar richness too much of the presence of man, to exemplify the simple, the soothing, and the 'amiable scenes of nature. Of the Tsar's active humanity, too much cannot be said. The well-known event which obtained for him the gold medal of our Royal Humane Society, is of too common notoriety to justify its insertion here; but in these duties Alexander was never deficient. The police-officer who saved, at the hazard of his own life, the rash individual who was sinking in the half-frozen Neva, was applauded, rewarded, and promoted on the spot, by his benevolent sovereign. The sufferers from the dreadful inundations in Germany, were relieved by his abundant contributions; and when a similar disaster befel St. Petersburg, in November 1824, he visited, in person, the scenes of misery, and while bis open hand distributed the necessary relief, his presence and his language were yet more grateful to the feelings of the afflicted, than his liberal alms.

• It once happened, at the very moment when the emperor had given the word of command, and the guard on the parade was just on the point of paying him the usual military honours, that a fellow approached him in ragged garments, with his hair in disorder, and a look of wildness, and gave him a slap on the shoulder. The monarch, who was standing at the time with his face to the military front, turned round instantly, and beholding the wretched object before him, started back at the sight; and then enquired, with a look of astonishment, what he wanted? “I have something to say to you, Alexander Pawlowitsch," said the stranger, in the Russian language.

Say on then," said the emperor, with a smile of encouragement, clapping him on the shoulder. A long solemn pause followed; the military guard stood still; and none ventured, either by word or mo, tion, to disturb the emperor in this singular interview. The Grand Duke Constantine alone, whose attention had been excited by this unusual interruption, advanced somewhat nearer to his brother, The stranger then related, that he had been a captain in the Russian service, and had been present at the campaigns, both in Italy and Switzerland; but that he had been persecuted by his commanding officer, and so misrepresented to Suwarrow, that the latter had turned him out of the army, without money and without friends, in a foreign country. He had afterwards served as a private soldier in the Russian army; and being severely wounded at Zurich, (and here he pulled his rags asunder, and shewed several gun-shot wounds,) he had closed his campaign in a French prison. He had now begged all the way to Petersburg, to apply to the emperor himself for justice, and to entreat an enquiry into the reason why he had been degraded from his rank in the army. The Emperor listened with great patience, and then asked, in a significant tone, “ If there was no exaggeration in the story he had told ?” " Let me die under the knout,” said the officer, “ if I shall be found to have uttered one word of falsehood.” The Emperor then beckoned to his brother, and charged him to conduct the stranger to the palace, while he turned round to the expecting crowd. The commanding officer who had behaved so harshly, though of a good family, and a prince in rank, was very severely reprimanded; while the brave warrior, whom he had unjustly persecuted, was reinstated in his former post, and besides, had a considerable present from the Emperor.'

pp. xxvi-xxix. Alexander seems to have possessed the rare talent of conferring favours with a grace which enhanced their value. When he sent a valuable jewel to Kutusoff, after the campaign of 1812, it was taken from the imperial crown, and the vacancy thus occasioned, was supplied by a small gold plate, on which the name of that officer was inscribed. After the attack on Montmartre, in which Count Langeron distinguished himself, dining with a party of which that general made one, he addressed him as follows I have paid a second visit to * Montmartre, where I found a parcel directed to you.' On the count's replying, that he had lost nothing,0! I am not

mistaken ; see here! The contents were the valuable insignia of a Russian order.

. The hackney-coachmen in St. Petersburgh do not much like to drive officers, and seldom let them get out without their having paid them before-hand, or leaving something in pledge. They do not

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