Imágenes de página


[ocr errors]

only fair to let Prince Adam tell in his own words how that intelligence was received :

• Agitated by the thousand confused doubts, terrors, and uncertainties which tore his soul, Alexander had that night flung himself, still dressed, upon his bed. Towards one o'clock there came a knock at his door, and he bebeld entering Nicholas Zubow, with his head dishevelled, his face inflamed by the wine he had drunk, and by the fury of the murder hardly yet consummated. He strode up to the grandduke, who was sitting up in bed, and said, in a hoarse whisper, “ All “ is done!” “What is it that has been done?” cried Alexander in consternation. His ears seem to become hard of hearing. Perhaps he was afraid to hear what he had to be told, while Zubow was, for his part, afraid to say out what had happened. This lengthened the conversation, and so far was murder from the grand-duke's thoughts that he did not at first admit such a possibility. At last he noticed that the count always addressed him as Sire,” and “ Your Majesty,” while he took himself to be only a regent. : . The grand-duke was not ambitious, he never was so, and the idea of having caused his father's death was horrible to him. It was as a sword plunged into his conscience, as a stain which must attach for ever to his reputation. I have never learnt anything about the first interview between the mother and the son alter the crime. What did they say to each other? What explanations could they give of that which had just taken place ?' None, indeed, except those which lay in the character of Alexander-Pavlovitch. Intermittent in his sympathies, fantastic in his imagination, and sentimental rather than affectionate, he was a weak man who generally halted between two opinions. He dreamt noble things and talked of them, and imagined that promises and professions were equivalent to the deeds which ought to have proved and ratified them. He had many fine qualities, but the gods themselves cannot take back their gifts, and he had not escaped from the neurosis which rendered his grandfather, father, and brother Constantine more or less dangerous lunatics. In him there was the same unsound caprice. He was a fountain pouring forth sweet waters and bitter, and he was worried by a sense of his own self-contradictions, which were so incessant that there is hardly a point in his career which is not marked by the strangest vacillations, one might almost say by alternations, of policy. Tilsit is so far a case in point, as it exhibits a sudden friendship for the Napoleon who had worsted him at Austerlitz, and whom he was to ruin at the Beresina. But it is not a perfect case of his alternate policy, because at Tilsit he was able to injure Prussia, and to prick out on the map of Europe the limits of a sort of duchy of Warsaw ; both points which he had had at heart for some time before and after he struck hands with Napoleon. But Memel in 1802 is a genuine illustration of a caprice, and Adam Czartoryski did not scruple to tell his whimsical master that the personal sympathies he had conceived for the royal family of Prussia caused him to see Prussia no longer as a European state or a political question, and that this friendship had had most injurious effects on the campaign.

Alexander's friendship with Speransky is another instance. He made of that pope's son his finance minister, and employed him to draw up the Swod or code of laws by which Russians were for the future to be governed. But notwithstanding this code, with which the emperor was as much delighted as he had ever been with Prince Adam's famous manuscript proclamation for his accession, ukases were to continue; that is to say, codes were to give way at any moment to a sudden, sharp, and peremptory expression of the single autocratic will which governed the Russias. Speransky was at the summit of power, when one morning he was dragged out of bed and hurried off to Siberia. No Swod was consulted as to his case. The Czar had yielded to his enemies, to the reactionary party who hated the upstart, his Protestant marriage, and his theories. Before long Alexander repented, and Michael Speransky ruled as Governor-General of Siberia, over the very provinces to which he had come a few months before as an exile—again without any trial or invocation of the Swod.

Instances of his caprices might easily be multiplied. He went to war on account of the seizure and murder of the Duc d'Enghien, but was content later to receive Caulaincourt as French ambassador. He banished the Jesuits, but went often to pray in the chapels of Catholic convents. His relations with the Lithuanian gentry during the French march on Moscow, as given by Madame de Choiseul-Gouffier, are a study in themselves, and so was the cruelly tantalising game that he played with Madame de La Bédoyère when the allies were in Paris, and when he did not procure her husband's reprieve. What wonder, then, if in 1801, dreaming of a Utopia to be founded by himself, and hard pressed by Panin and Pahlen, he closed his eyes to the possibility of a foul deed of murder, and contemplated the mirage of his fancies while the crime was being committed which has ever since been supposed to have had his unfilial sanction?

What wonder either that this man of fair promises and of

ever-changing purposes broke his servant Adam Czartoryski's heart? But we must not hurry on to that dénouement. We find Prince Adam zewly returned to St. Petersburg, and occupied officiously, but not officially, in the emperor's suite till 1803. It is curious to find him drawing up a state paper about the means necessary for concluding the occupation and subjection of Georgia, of which the last sovereign, George XIII., had in 1801 made over the sceptre to Russia. That result was not welcome in the country, and to say nothing of the unsubdued hill tribes, Lesghians, Ossetes, and the like, an attempt had been made at, or even after, the eleventh hour, to rally the national party, and to rescue Queen Maria while she was being carried by force through the gates of the Caucasus to Russia.

In 1803 Adam Czartoryski accepted, after many entreaties, the portfolio of foreign affairs. If he was to accept office at all in a Russian cabinet, it was easy to see that this place would possess charms, and to reward him for accepting the place as adjunct to the Chancellor Worontzow, Alexander named him curator of the University of Wilna, in other words, left in his patriotic hands the charge of public education throughout those provinces of Poland which now formed part of the Russian Empire. In 1804 he obtained the sole charge of the external and diplomatic relations of Russia, and he was in office when the great Coalition of 1805 was formed.

The fibre of Alexander's mind had hardened considerably in these four years. Liberal reveries were forgotten, like the famous project of abdication ; if he was justly reproached for leaving unpunished the murder of Paul, he did not choose his counsellors or friends among the men of the 10th of March, but, shaking off Pahlen and Panin, he worked with advisers such as Novosiltzow, La Harpe, Paul Stroganow, and Adam Czartorysk A few Poles were admitted to places of trust: a code was drawn up by Speransky and Rozenkampf, and order began to appear in the chaos of Russian finances and of Russian affairs. Prince Adam complains of the way in which M. Thiers, in his ‘History of the Consulate and the Empire,' speaks of the cabinet of Emperor Alexander. They were not so very young politicians : Kotchubey and Novosilizow, at least, had no right to the epithet, and by their measures Russian policy was dragged, as it were, out of the ruts in which it had too long staggered, and the empire put on a footing which could compare with other civilised European countries. As for their foreign

policy, they might with fairness aver that the bias of public opinion, making itself felt in Russia as in other countries, led on the emperor and the cabinet of the emperor to the conception and execution of a general plan when hostilities should become inevitable.

The story of the great Coalition is well known, and has been often written; but we venture to think it has never been told so fairly, so lucidly, and so succinctly as by Prince Adam Czartoryski. We will go so far as to say that his account of it is superior to that of M. Thiers, even when we read the pages which are not personal to the minister of foreign affairs.

In the second volume will be found the secret instructions given to M. de Novosiltzow when he was sent to England (1804) to arrange a mediation. They are alluded to by M. Thiers, but in all probability he never saw them in their original shape. They were another day-dream of Alexander's, who flattered himself that Russia and England would be able to guarantee the peace and safety of Europe. To Mr. Pitt and Lord Harrowby the plan must have appeared rather visionary than practical, and we know that it ended in bringing 'not peace, but a sword, resulting in no mediation, but in the third coalition against France. Alexander became exasperated first by the murder of the Duc d'Enghien, then by the occupation of Hanover, and by Napoleon's pompous coronation in Italy. War was inevitable, and he was to take the field; but this account of his start is characteristic :

The moment had come for the emperor to draw near to the theatre of events, but in proportion as we saw the moment of action coming nearer, I perceived that his resolution began to ebb. All the

we started, and throughout the journey the couriers of M. d'Alopeus brought us disquieting reports as to the effect produced in Prussia by the movement of Russian troops.

Alexander determined to halt at Pulavy in the house of my family, wishing to pay them a visit.

The idea of forcing a passage through Prussia was not yet abandoned, and, furthermore, Alexander persisted in his idea of declaring himself King of Poland. I had to write to Count Razumowsky to sound the court of Vienna as to such a combination. Austria did not appear averse to it, while stipulating that the old frontier of Galicia should be maintained. Lord Gower, returned from a journey to England, met us. . . . He told us that were Poland to be reconstituted, England would consent.'

Alexander won all hearts in Warsaw and in Posen, and went on to Berlin, where he had a brilliant reception, and signed the treaty of Potsdam, November 3, 1805.


The battle of Austerlitz is described on page 409. When it was lost, Adam Czartoryski went in the gathering twilight to rejoin his master.

' The emperor was excessively exhausted and depressed; the violent emotion told on his bodily health, and I was alone in nursing him. We spent three days and nights before reaching Hollbach, and in passing through the villages we heard nothing but the confused cries of those who sought in drink a forgetfulness of their reverses. At the end of some hours of marching we reached a better sort of town, and there I procured a room for the emperor, and we got a little rest, though our horses were kept saddled and ready in case of a pursuit. . . . I should have liked to bring about a meeting between the two emperors, so as to assure their safety, but I did not succeed in this. The Emperor Francis went on his way, charging me with words of consolation for Alexander. They were all to the same effect, and assured us that he had already passed through similar disasters, and that though we had been directly hit by this blow we ought not to despair.'

Here closes the autobiography of Adam Czartoryski, but we must not part with him before giving a glance at his later years.

Faithful to Polish interests, he was at the Congress of Vienna, and we have the good fortune to possess, in the prince's own handwriting, his account of the business as it related to the Polish provinces.

The many misfortunes which befell the monarchies of Europe had had their root in the conduct of the three states which first reaped the fruits of the unjust partition of Poland, and then spent the strength that might have overcome revolution and stemmed invasions in watching each other, and in trying to obtain even larger shares of the spoil. This it had been which opened the fields of Germany to French armies ; this it was which lent a Polish legion to the armies of Bonaparte, and which made his approach to Wilna such a menace to the Russian strength. But it is none the less true, as Prince Adam remarks

that when the Congress of Vienna assembled, no one gave a thought to Poland. I will, however, say a few words to you (Paris, Jan. 28, 1847) as to the congress from the Polish point of view.

• The Poles had fought to the bitter end with Napoleon, they had fixed their hopes on him, and, as his allies, remained, like the King of Saxony, under the ban. The Emperor Alexander was the first who showed a desire to re-create a Poland, and to be its king. This de. claration alarmed the whole congress, and its members saw in this desire vast and ambitious views of Russia which were alarming for Europe. That, indeed, was one manner of explaining the persistency of the Emperor in getting his project accepted. The interminable discussions


« AnteriorContinuar »