(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Cathering The Great And The Expansion Of Russia"

Teach Yourself History 

VOLUMES READY OR IN PREPARATION 

The Use of History, by A. L. Rowse 

Pericles and the Athenian Tragedy, by A. R. Burn 

Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Empire, by A. R. Burn 

Julius Caesar and the Fall of the Roman Republic, 

by M.I. Henderson 

Augustus and the Roman Empire, by M. P. Charlesworth 
Constantine and the Conversion of Europe, by A. H. M. Jones 
Marco Polo and the Discovery of China, by G. F. Hudson 
Innocent III and the Mediaeval Papacy, 

by A. Hamilton Thompson 

John Wycliffe and the Lollards, by K. B. McFarlane 
Henry V and the Invasion of France, by E. F. Jacob 
- Joan of Arc and the Recovery of France, by Alice Buchan 
Erasmus and the Renaissance, by Margaret Mann Phillips 
Cranmer and the English Reformation, by F. E. Hutchinson 
Queen Elizabeth and Her Age, by A. L. Rowse 
Raleigh and the British Empire, by D. B. Quinn 
Laud and the English Church, by Norman Sykes 
Cromwell and the Puritan Revolution, by Mary Coate 
Gustavus Adolphus and the Thirty Years' War, by Raymond Carr 
Richelieu and the French Monarchy, by C. V. Wedgwood 
Milton and the English Mind, by F. E. Hutchinson 
Louis XIV and the Greatness of France, by Maurice Ashley 
Wesley and the Methodist Movement, by Norman Sykes 
Chatham and the British Empire, by Sir Charles Grant Robertson 
Cook and the Opening of the Pacific, by James A. Williamson 
Warren Hastings and British India, by Penderel Moon 
Bolivar and the Independence of Spanish America, by J. B. Trend 
Jefferson and American Democracy, by Max Beloff 
Pushkin and Russian Literature, by Janko Lavrin 
Livingstone and Central Africa, by Jack Simmons 
Abraham Lincoln and the United States, by K. C. Wheare 
Gladstone and Modern Liberalism, by J. L. Hammond 
Parnell and the Irish Nation, by Nicholas Mansergh 
Clemenceau and the Third Republic, by J. Hampden Jackson 
Woodrow Wilson and American Liberalism, by E. M. Hugh- Jones 
Venizelos and Modern Greece, by J, Mavrogordato 
Lenin and the Russian Revolution, by Christopher Hill 
Botha, Smuts and South Africa, by Basil Williams 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

and the 

Expansion of Russia 

by 
GLADYS SCOTT THOMSON 



Publiihedty 

HODDER & STOUGHTON LIMITED 

for THE ENGLISH UNIVERSITIES PRESS 

AT SAINT PAUL'S HOUSE 

IN THE CITY OF LONDON 




CATHERINE IN THE RUSSIAN UNDRESS. 

Reproduced fiom the portrait by 

pel mission of the late Sir John 

Hanbury- 



[Fronhspttcc 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

and the 

Expansion of Russia 

by 
GLADYS SCOTT THOMSON 



Publish*! by 

HODDER & STOUGHTON LIMITED 

for THE ENGLISH UNIVERSITIES PRESS 

AT SAINT PAUL'S HOUSE 

IN THE CITY OF LONDON 



FIRST PRINTED APRIL 1947 



All rights reserved 



PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN FOR THE ENGLISH UNIVERSITIES PRESS, LTD 
LONDON, BY BAZBLL, WATSON AND V1NEY, LTD., LONDON AND AYLESBUR 



A General Introduction to the 
Series 



HPHIS series has been undertaken in the con- 
A viction that there can be no subject of study 
more important than history. Great as have 
been the conquests of natural science in our time 
such that many think of ours as a scientific age 
par excellence it is even more urgent and necessary 
that advances should be made in the social 
sciences, if we are to gain control of the forces of 
nature loosed upon us. The bed out of which all 
the social sciences spring is history; there they 
find, in greater or lesser degree, subject-matter 
and material, verification or contradiction. 

There is no end to what we can learn from 
history, if only we would, for it is coterminous with 
life. Its special field is the life of man in society, 
and at every point we can learn vicariously from 
the experience of others before us in history. 

To take one point only the understanding of 
politics: how can we hope to understand the 
world of affairs around us if we do not know how 
it came to be what it is? How to understand 
Germany, or Soviet Russia, or the United States 
or ourselves, without knowing something of 
their history ? 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION 

There is no subject that is more useful, or 
indeed indispensable. 

Some evidence of the growing awareness of 
this may be seen in the immense increase in the 
interest of the reading public in history, and the 
much larger place the subject has come to take in 
education in our time. 

This series has been planned to meet the needs 
and demands of a very wide public and of educa- 
tion they are indeed the same. I am convinced 
that the most congenial, as well as the most con- 
crete and practical, approach to history is the 
biographical, through the lives of the great men 
whose actions have been so much part of history, 
and whose careers in turn have been so moulded 
and formed by events. 

The key-idea of this series, and what dis- 
tinguishes it from any other that has appeared, 
is the intention by way of a biography of a great 
man to open up a significant historical theme; 
for example, Cromwell and the Puritan Revo- 
lution, or Lenin and the Russian Revolution. 

My hope is, in the end, as the series fills out 
and completes itself, by a sufficient number of 
biographies to cover whole periods and subjects 
in that way. To give you the history of the 
United States, for example, or the British Empire 
or France, via a number of biographies of their 
leading historical figures. 

That should be something new, as well as 
convenient and practical, in education. 

vi 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION 

f 

I need hardly say that I am a strong believer 
in people with good academic standards writing 
once more for the general reading public, and of 
the public being given the best that the univer- 
sities can provide. From this point of view this 
series is intended to bring the university into the 
homes of the people. 

A. L. ROWSE. 

ALL SOULS COLLEGE, 
OXFORD. 



VU 



Contents 



CHAPTEX FACIE 

GENERAL INTRODUCTION ... V 

INTRODUCTORY NOTE ... X 

I. PROLOGUE I 

H. THE GRAND-DUCHESS ... 25 

III. THE EMPRESS CONSORT 60 

IV. THE EMPRESS .... 83 
V. RUSSIA AND POLAND . . . IOQ 

VI. RUSSIA AND TURKEY . . .128 

VH. PUGACHEV ..... 149 

Vm. POTEMKIN THE CRIMEA TURKEY . 1 70 

DC. TURKEY AND POLAND AGAIN . r 94 

X. ST. PETERSBURG AND ITS PEOPLE . 215 

XI. THE ARTS AND THE SCIENCES . 248 

XII. THE LAST YEARS .... 269 

FOR FURTHER READING . . . 284 

INDEX ...... 287 



C.G.1* 



Introductory Note 

HPHIS study of Catherine the Great has no 
* pretensions to original research. It is merely 
an attempt to give the reader an outline of the 
story of the Empress and the Russia over which 
she ruled. References to the material from which 
the story is, chiefly derived will be found in the 
text. A list of books suggested as starting-points 
for further study is given at the end of the volume. 
My obligations to the many who have helped 
me are deep. In particular I would thank Dr. 
David Home for the time and care given to 
reading the book in manuscript : and Dr. M. G. 
Jones for her generosity in allowing me to use her 
transcripts of the Report of the Commission sent 
by Catherine to investigate the system of education 
in the British Isles. I cannot easily express my 
appreciation of the privilege of learning first-hand 
from the late Sir John Hanbury- Williams accounts 
of the Russia in which he, like his ancestor, served : 
and of his kindness in allowing me to have and 
reproduce the photograph of the painting 
which appears as the frontispiece of this volume. 

GLADYS SCOTT THOMSON. 



Chapter One 

Prologue 

IN the first days of the year 1744, the fourth 
year of the war known as the War of the 
Austrian Succession, a girl of fifteen was about to 
set out from her home in Stettin in Pomerania on 
a journey to Russia. She was Sophie Auguste 
Frederika, one of the two surviving children 
the other was a boy of a petty German prince, 
Christian August of Anhalt-Zerbst, governor of 
Stettin, and his wife, the Princess Johanna 
Elizabeth of Holstein-Gottorp. 

At Stettin, the town at the mouth of the Oder, 
which, after a varied history, had been ceded to 
Prussia by Sweden some twenty years earlier, 
Sophie Auguste had been born in the year 1729, 
the month being either April or May. The place 
of her birth was what was afterwards described 
as a dull, grey house in the Domstrasse, but a 
little later her father had become governor of the 
town, and had gone to live in the Residence. 
There the child grew up, against the background 
of a petty German court, strictly Lutheran in its 
outlook. On the whole, such a court could 
probably contrive to be as dull, as disciplined in 
all small matters, and as rigid as any court could 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

well be. There were compensations. Education, 
of the kind approved by the authorities, had its 
place in the life of the daughter of the house; a 
greater boon was the fact that her mother, a lively 
lady with a number of connections among various 
royal families, was fond of making visits and 
travelling, and her daughter was often allowed to 
accompany her. But the expedition on which the 
girl was now about to embark and here, too, 
she was to have her mother's company was to 
go beyond anything she had previously experi- 
enced, or had been foreshadowed in her short life. 

The journey was being undertaken in con- 
sequence of an invitation from the Empress 
Elizabeth of Russia, and, as such invitations are 
apt to be, this one was in effect a command. 
The Princess of Anhalt-Zerbst was desired by the 
Empress of Russia to bring her daughter to the 
Russian court for a prolonged stay. The object 
of the invitation was not clearly defined, although 
secrecy was emphatically enjoined, but the father 
and mother, and according to her own memoirs, 
written many years after Sophie herself, must 
have had a fairly good idea what was in the mind 
of the Empress, more particularly seeing that 
some six months back the latter had asked for, 
and received, a portrait of the young girl. It was 
all according to custom, and no particular 
astuteness was needed to perceive that the purpose 
of the Empress was a marriage. 

Elizabeth of Russia, daughter of Peter called 



PROLOGUE 

the. Great, but by no means his direct successor, 
had now been on the throne for almost exactly 
three years. No more than sixteen years separated 
the death of her father in 1725 from her own 
elevation, in January of 1741, to the throne. But. 
in that space of time the crown of Russia had 
passed to four sovereigns, amid vicissitudes which 
in some sort represented an adumbration of the 
twenty-nine years of turmoil which had preceded 
the seizure of power by Peter. 

Peter's only son, the child of his first wife, had 
been disposed of that dreadful night in November 
of the year 1718, when the father had gone to 
the Kremlin where the young man was confined ; 
and the next day Russia had learned that the 
prince was no more. He had, however, left a 
child, a son. And Peter, by his second wife, a 
peasant girl from Lithuania, had two daughters. 
Four years later, in 1722, Peter had issued his 
edict that henceforward the ruler of Russia should 
nominate his successor. But he had never carried 
out his intention, for he had died while giving his 
last instructions, and before he could make clear 
to the daughter who was acting as his amanuensis 
the name he desired to be put on the paper. 

The confusion which had followed had given a 
powerful military and political group their 
chance. They had placed Peter's widow on the 
throne. She, who was to appear in the dynastic 
roll as Catherine I, had lived for only two years 
after her accession. After her the little boy, child 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

of the prince who had died in the Kremlin, had, 
in his turn, been declared ruler of Russia. But 
within three years he had died of smallpox, and 
with him the male line of Romanov came to its 
end. There remained Peter's daughters. They, 
however, were not the sole representatives of the 
female line. 

Peter had had a step-brother, older than 
himself, who had once shared the throne with him. 
This step-brother had also had two daughters; 
and, on the death of the boy king, it was for one 
of these, the younger, Anne, Duchess of Gourland, 
that the succession had been secured. And Anne 
had reigned, not unsuccessfully, until her death in 
1740. Before her death she had named as her 
successor a few-months-old child, Ivan, grandson 
of her elder sister. So she had thought the 
succession safe for her branch of the Romanov 
line. Peter's second daughter, Elizabeth, thought 
otherwise. Within a year of Anne's death, 
supported by the regiment of which she was the 
commander, she had successfully snatched the 
throne of Russia from the child who had succeeded 
as Ivan VI, sending that babe of a year old to 
prison, and dismissing his mother, who had been 
acting as regent, to a convent. 

That was three years since; Elizabeth was 
now, in 1744, in her early thirties, reigning alone, 
without a consort. Alliances had, it goes without 
saying, been considered. Her father had con- 
templated marrying her to the prince who was 



PROLOGUE 

now Louis XV. The Jacobites in Scotland would, 
it was said, have welcomed her as a bride for 
Prince Charles Edward, although she had the 
advantage of him in years. These and other 
plans had come to nothing. But once there had 
been a betrothal. She had expected to marry a 
member of the Holstein-Gottorp family, Charles, 
brother to Johanna, wife of the governor of 
Stettin. The bridegroom-to-be had, however, 
died of smallpox before the wedding day. After 
this there had been lovers; even perhaps a 
marriage ceremony gone through with a Cossack 
peasant, whose voice had carried him from the 
steppes, where his father had been a shepherd, 
to the choir of the imperial chapel, and to the 
notice of the Empress. 

Whatever the character of the ceremony, if 
any, this was no recognized marriage; and an 
Empress must have an heir. Elizabeth had 
chosen hers. She had a nephew, the orphaned son 
of her elder sister, who had married the ducal head 
of the Holstein-Gottorp family, cousin to the 
former betrothed of the Empress, and to Johanna. 
The boy, Charles Peter, had been brought to 
Russia to be subject to Russian influence; to be 
received into the Orthodox Church; and to 
be recognized as heir to the throne. Now, at 
sixteen years of age, he had had found for him a 
girl, not of Russian nationality, who was to be 
his wife. 

Before this, there had been thought of, for a 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

possible betrothal, a daughter of George II of 
England, and also a French princess. But at the 
close of 1 743 the Empress had made up her mind. 
It was the fifteen-year-old daughter of an 
insignificant prince of Pomerania upon whom 
her choice had finally fallen; and the letter had 
gone to Stettin. 

Of the three persons at the court at Stettin 
who were concerned in the matter, it was perhaps 
the mother, Johanna, who felt the most pleasure. 
To her liveliness and love of travel, that lady 
added ambition hardly to be satisfied at a small 
court; and a desire to play her part in affairs, 
which might not unfairly be said to amount to a 
taste for intrigue. She could scarcely have failed 
to see in the letter of invitation, which had 
arrived while the family were spending the New 
Year away from Stettin with relatives, an 
opportunity for herself, no less than for her 
daughter; and it was an opportunity that might 
well have derived to a certain extent from her 
own connection with the Empress, a gratifying 
reflection. 

But other issues were at stake; other persons 
were interested in Russia, and in the choice of a 
wife for the boy who was recognized as heir to 
the throne of that country. 

In the course of the year 1740, the year before 
Elizabeth had secured the throne of Russia, two 
other dynastic changes had taken place in Europe. 
In the spring of 1740 Frederick, afterwards to be 
6 



PROLOGUE 

surnamed, as Peter had been, the Great, had 
succeeded to the throne of Prussia. In the 
autumn the death of the Emperor Charles VI 
had placed his daughter, Maria Theresa, on the 
throne of Austria, with every prospect, a prospect 
that was amply fulfilled, that not only would her 
succession be disputed, but that there would be 
attempts from more quarters than one to filch 
away some of the vast possessions of Austria. 
The war, known as the War of the Austrian 
Succession, had indeed broken out within a few 
months. But before that, while the issues of war 
and peace yet hung in the balance, Frederick 
had struck. He had seized Breslau, the capital 
of the Austrian province of Silesia, with no 
declaration of war, and under pretexts which he 
himself later cynically admitted to have no founda- 
tion in fact. A campaign of a few months had 
seen him master of all Lower Silesia, and, two 
years later, when war had spread over half 
Europe, Maria Theresa had been forced to 
purchase his neutrality by ceding to him the 
province to which he had helped himself; he, in 
return, recognizing her claim to all the other 
Austrian possessions. 

Yet, despite this triumph, no one knew better 
than the King of Prussia that he had aroused 
enmities which in the long run might, unless he 
played his hand skilfully, prove fatal to him, and 
to his country. During the following year his 
unease had been quickened by successes of Maria 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

Theresa in the field. He turned his gaze eastward. 
There, to the east, beyond the kingdom of 
Poland, lay Russia, not yet fully drawn into the 
vortex of European politics; in the eyes of many 
in western Europe still a mysterious land, but 
one that, as observers of political affairs (thought, 
would bear watching. Some years since, before 
the coup d'etat of Elizabeth, Claudius Rondeau, 
sometime English envoy in St. Petersburg, had 
remarked that the court of Russia was beginning 
to have a good deal to say in the affairs of Europe. 
And Frederick, in his kingdom of Prussia, 
harboured no illusions. His correspondence makes 
it amply clear that from the beginning of his reign 
he had been aware of formidable potentialities in 
Russia ; that therein lurked danger for himself, and 
for Prussia. At this moment he was more than 
ever on the watch, for the tide of opinion at the 
Russian court was, he learned from his agents, 
setting against him. In particular, Elizabeth's 
Vice-chancellor, Bestiizhev-Ryumin, was his 
enemy. And the latter directed foreign policy. 
That policy was based on the Vice-chancellor's 
profound conviction that the growing might of 
Prussia under Frederick was a source of peril to 
Russia; and that therefore the proper course for 
the latter country to follow was support of Austria 
as against her aggressive neighbour. Frederick 
knew well enough what a military alliance 
between Russia and Austria against himself might 
imply. Such a union had to be prevented at all 

8 



PROLOGUE 

costs; and Russia be at the very least kept 
neutral. That, for him, was of vital importance; 
and his consciousness of this had its repercussions 
at Stettin. 

Within a very few days after the letter of the 
Empress had been received by the governor and 
his lady, there came to them another letter 
from Frederick. In that letter the King of 
Prussia made it clear that he approved of a bride 
from one of his own provinces for the future ruler 
of Russia. What was looming as even more 
important in his mind, was the usefulness of a 
really trusty agent at the Russian court. That 
agent was to be Johanna, who, delighting in the 
r61e, had already shown that she was more than 
willing to play his game. So, between the 
Empress of Russia and the King of Prussia, was 
Sophie's course set. 

There was no great delay in the making of the 
preparations for the journey, the cost of which 
was to be borne by the Empress, a fact not 
without importance to the family at Stettin, 
since German princes of their standing were not 
apt to be wealthy; and the family of Anhalt- 
Zerbst were no exception to the rule. 

During those days of preparation the governor 
had a solemn interview with his daughter. It 
was an interview typical of such always and 
everywhere, the worthy, straight-laced, and, one 
suspects, dull princeling whose ambitions for 
himself probably soared no higher than the 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

governorship to which he had attained, whatever 
was the case with his wife, taking farewell of the 
daughter before whom a great, but certainly 
difficult future was opening; giving her advice in 
a series of platitudes and homilies in particular 
she should take no part in political affairs 
bestowing on her for her reading a religious treatise. 
Then, on 12 January, the carriages with 
father, mother, and daughter, and some five 
or six attendants, set forth to Berlin. There 
they saw Frederick, who had every wish to see 
Johanna, of whom he expected much, and 
desired also to see the girl Sophie, and did so, in 
spite, if the latter's memoirs are to be credited, 
of a spirited attempt on the part of her mother 
to prevent an interview Johanna always wanted 
attention focused on herself. Two days at Berlin ; 
and the procession set out once more, making as 
if to return to Stettin, perhaps a ruse in accord- 
ance with the numerous instructions received as 
to secrecy, a secrecy not easy to obtain. It was 
not to Stettin that they went, but to Stargard, 
not so far away from the home town. There the 
governor left them. He went back to Stettin ; his 
wife and daughter continued along the Baltic 
coast, by Danzig and Konigsberg and Memel 
towards Riga, encountering, to their great 
thankfulness, no snow storm on the way, but 
meeting an icy wind, the piercing wind blowing 
from the Arctic, which impelled them to cover up 
their faces. 

10 



PROLOGUE 

Riga was reached on 7 February, almost 
exactly four weeks after the little party had 
quitted Stargard; and with Riga, Russia. The 
Baltic port had become also a Russian port, 
when in 1721 Sweden had ceded Livonia to 
Peter the Great. The reception of the guests of 
the Empress on this their entrance into Russia 
was impressive, and amid other details, to mother 
and daughter were handed, as gifts from 
Elizabeth, cloaks of sable the lovely Russian 
sable, esteemed throughout Europe lined with 
gold brocade ; and a rug of the same fur. 

And so onwards. But now the manner of 
travel was changed. At Riga the carriages were 
left behind; and in their place were sleighs the 
first, wrote Sophie, that she had ever seen each 
sleigh drawn by ten horses. 

The departure from Riga took place, according 
to the dating to which the travellers were 
accustomed, that of the reformed calendar now 
in general, though not universal, use in Europe, 
on 9 February. But even as the sleighs had 
replaced the carriages, so another, an older 
method of enumerating the days of the year 
marked the entrance into the Russian provinces; 
by the Muscovy calendar the year had receded 
eleven days, and it was now but 29 January. 

Another four days, and St. Petersburg was 
reached, adopting the reckoning by which Russia 
ordered its days,' on 3 February (14 February, 
N.S.). 

ii 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

The city which Peter had caused to be con- 
structed on the swampy delta and the islands at 
the mouth of the Neva river, a city looking to 
the west, had now been the capital of Russia, 
save for an interval of a few years after Peter's 
death, since, some thirty-odd years back, the 
buildings had been sufficiently complete for its 
founder to order the removal of the government 
thither. It was a city of wood and stone, with, on 
its island, the fortress and cathedral of St Peter and 
St. Paul. From the latter, holding the tomb of the 
man who had created the city, rose tall and slender 
the spire a copy of that of the Bourse in Copen- 
hagen dominating the surroundings ; but not yet, 
as it was later to be, glittering by reason of its 
plates of gilt and copper. 

In general appearance, the capital of Russia, 
as Sophie first saw it, would not perhaps have 
seemed strange to the eyes of travellers from 
North Germany, since its buildings had been 
planned by Peter's deliberate choice after the 
German-Dutch style. But changes were already 
in making. The Winter Palace to which the 
sleighs drove was not Peter's wooden building. 
This one had been designed for Elizabeth by 
the young Italian architect Bartolommeo Rastrelli, 
and had been completed only some four years 
back. It stood on a site purchased by the Empress, 
between her father's palace and his Admiralty, 
and like them, it faced the Neva, now, in February, 
still and frozen. 
12 



PROLOGUE 

In the palace, mother and daughter spent 
three days, while St. Petersburg outdid Riga in 
the splendour of the reception offered them ; and 
when on the third day they set forth on the final 
stage of their journey, the four hundred and 
eighty-seven miles to Moscow, where the Empress 
awaited them, their procession took on a new 
magnificence; many more attendants, many 
more postillions for the horses which drew the 
sleighs, now thirty in number. 

It had been impressed upon Johanna that 
they were expected to arrive in Moscow before 
10 February (21 February, N.S.), in order 
that they might be present at the celebration of 
the sixteenth anniversary of the birthday of the 
youth who was formerly Charles Peter but who 
had lost his first name when he was baptized 
into the Orthodox Church as Peter Feodorovitch. 
To attain the goal in time haste had to be 
made indeed; and the pace of this last stage 
of the journey was very different from that 
made at the beginning. Every preparation 
in the way of posts along the road, booths with 
hot food and drinks, had been made. In the 
great sleighs, covered in and heated, really rooms 
on runners, used by such travellers, it was 
possible for the occupants to sleep as they went. 
Moreover, as far as the road was concerned, the 
winter was far the best time of year for travelling. 
Peter had planned a new highway, a broad 
causeway laid with trunks of trees, which should 

'3 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

run from his new capital to the city which had 
been the capital. But only one hundred miles of 
this had been completed; and even tins stretch 
was not, as travellers remarked, very good, while 
the remainder was very bad indeed. But, during 
the winter months, the frozen snow made a hard, 
smooth surface over which sleighs, particularly 
when drawn, as were these, by a great number of 
horses, could pass with ease and remarkable 
rapidity. So the procession went on through the 
short days and long nights by way of Tsarskoe 
Selo, the imperial spot where Peter had built for 
his wife Catherine a wooden palace, which had 
been given by her to her daughter Elizabeth; 
and by the ancient city of Novgorod; and by 
scattered villages, often consisting of a few wooden 
houses only; until, on the fourth day after they 
had left St. Petersburg, and nearly six weeks 
since they had quitted Stettin, on 6 February 
(17 February, N.S.), they arrived in the out- 
skirts of Moscow. Now another six horses 
had been added to each sleigh; and now Sophie 
put on one of her new dresses, of which she had 
three in her luggage. This one was of rose- 
coloured moire and silver. That evening, they 
made a formal entrance into Moscow. 

Moscow, the capital for four centuries before 
Peter had built his city, stood for another Russia 
than St. Petersburg. It was a city which had 
perforce been rebuilt again and again after the 
conflagrations inevitable where buildings had 



PROLOGUE 

been largely constructed and reconstructed of 
wood. But, throughout, Moscow had never lost 
its character. Few eighteenth-century travellers 
failed to comment on the intermingling of the 
east with the west; Asia jostling Europe; and no 
less the juxtaposition of wealth and poverty, 
with, as Sophie recorded in her memoirs, as much 
dirt and sordidness in the one as the other, only 
in the former case concealed by a veneer of 
magnificence. Everywhere churches and monas- 
teries; and significant among the whole, the 
Kremlin, with its tower, the tower of Ivan the 
Great; its palace and its halls; its chapels, its 
courtyards ; a little city in itself. 

But it was not to the palace in the Kremlin 
that Sophie and her mother were driven, for, 
since the move to St. Petersburg, the Kremlin 
was no longer the royal residence, although still 
used for official occasions. The procession drove 
right across the city to the palace, in which the 
Empress was in residence; one of the two palaces, 
the Annenhof and the Golivin, which stood side by 
side on the far bank of the little river called the 
Yauza, a tributary of the Moskva, which ran 
beneath the walls of the Kremlin, and from 
which the city took its name. Then followed the 
reception by the Empress. 

It was the age of elegant splendour in Europe, 
of clothes as of all else, with the court at Versailles 
setting the note. To France the Empress looked 
for her fashions; but she added to them, like the 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

court of which she was the head, something that 
was Russian, something that reflected the colour, 
the gorgeousness of the east. Handsome, with 
robust good looks which she had inherited from 
her sturdy, peasant mother, voluptuous, sensual, 
Elizabeth is represented as always a splendid 
show; making full use of the possibilities offered 
to any woman whose expenditure knows no 
limitations. Her biographers rarely fail to mention 
that she had fifteen thousand dresses in her 
wardrobe when she died ; with the addenda that 
she seldom, if ever, paid her bills, either those 
for her costumes, or those of her French milliner. 
This evening her dress was of silver taffeta, that 
shimmering, metallic material so characteristic of 
the day. In her hair were diamonds and a long 
black plume. She moved, in her huge hooped 
skirt, as Sophie noted, with that dignity, grace, 
and even lightness, which belong to a stout 
woman. A traveller in Russia, Dr. John Cook, 
had remarked on that lightness of movement 
years before. On such an occasion as this, when 
the easy good nature which was one of her 
attributes could have full play, the Empress was 
perhaps at her best But behind that easy good 
nature was the determination which had brought 
her to the throne, and kept her there. 

After the reception by the Empress, followed 
another meeting. Strictly speaking, the introduc- 
tion of the young man who was to be ruler of 
Russia to his future bride was a formal introduo 
16 



PROLOGUE 

tion only, for the two had already met as children 
in the course of one of the many tours on which 
Johanna had taken her daughter. On that 
occasion, it was said, the girl of ten years old had 
not been favourably impressed by the boy of 
eleven years. She had found his appearance he 
was pale and delicate-looking unprepossessing, 
and even more unprepossessing his greedy be- 
haviour at meals, in the matter of drink as well as 
of food. There was much to justify those who, 
knowing Sophie at her father's court, had 
perceived in her, at a very early age, a power of 
detached criticism. The fifteen-year-old girl would 
have been something less than human had she not, 
at this significant moment, looked at the sixteen- 
year-old youth, whom she knew was to be her 
betrothed, with attention. In her case, it was 
likely to be with critical attention. She may well 
have found him no more attractive than he had 
appeared earlier. He was still sickly-looking, and 
diplomatists, who were not concerned to make the 
worst of the unfortunate young man, had long 
noted the loutish bearing which was the outward 
expression of the dull, narrow mind. They had 
seen something more. During his three years at 
the Russian court, he had not adapted himself as 
it had been hoped he would do. Duke of Hoist ein- 
Gottorp in succession to his father, he had been 
made a Grand-duke of Russia. The latter title 
took precedence of the first. All possible Russian 
influence had been brought to bear upon the 

'7 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

holder. He remained, in his tastes, his ideas, his 
whole outlook, entirely German. 

To the strength of the German strain, 
accompanied as it was by a fanatical admiration 
for Prussia, was attributed what appeared to be 
the one passion of the young man's life, his 
fondness for drilling soldiers, toy soldiers at first, 
then live men. One gentle trait he did possess. 
He played the fiddle. It was unfortunate that 
this accomplishment was precisely the one which 
would not appeal to his bride, who was always 
said to have been, if not tone deaf, at least 
definitely unmusical. 

But whatever the young couple may have 
thought of one another, their course was set 
Royalties were not usually given a choice in the 
matter of marriage anywhere, and certainly not 
at this court. 

Not that it was to be an immediate marriage. 
There was one essential preliminary. The bride- 
to-be must be received into the communion of 
the Greek or Orthodox Church. Perhaps it was 
with this in mind that the governor of Stettin 
had bestowed upon his daughter, for her reading, 
that religious treatise. It was said that he 
disliked the idea of the change of faith, and that 
Johanna did not inform him of the ceremony 
until it had taken place. He must, however, 
have known that it was inevitable. 

Four months of instruction preceded the 
reception. They were months which held some- 

18 



PROLOGUE 

thing more of import. During them Sophie had 
a bad attack of pleurisy, an illness which for a 
short time caused much alarm. It was an 
illness punctuated by quarrels over the sick-bed 
between the Empress Elizabeth and the Princess 
Johanna of Anhalt-Zerbst. Those ladies, after a 
few months of each other's acquaintance, were 
by no means on the best of terms with one 
another. At all times but especially now in the 
sick-chamber Johanna desired, not unnaturally, 
to exercise the maternal influence which she felt 
to be her right over her daughter; and in this 
had permitted herself to come into opposition to 
the Empress, who had no doubt whose influence 
should be paramount. 

Another and deeper cause of friction existed. 
Johanna had been trying her hand at the work 
which Frederick had designed for her; and 
Elizabeth and her advisers, especially her Vice- 
chancellor, against whom the intrigue was more 
particularly directed, were beginning to suspect as 
much. 

By the end of April the invalid was well on the 
way to recovery. In June she was pronounced to 
be sufficiently instructed to be received into the 
Orthodox Church, henceforth to be her church. 
Her confession of faith was made, and her 
reception took place on 28 June in the palace 
chapel. During the rites she was baptized afresh, 
as had been her husband-to-be. She took the 
names of Catherine Alexandrovna. 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

The girl who henceforth must be called 
Catherine subsequently compared what she had 
done with the reception of Henry IV of France 
into the Roman communion; and, doubtless, in 
the proceeding, there was something, even much, 
of the attitude of mind, that if the throne of France 
was worth a Mass, then that of Russia was worth 
the transference from the Lutheran to the 
Orthodox Church. Not that she had any real 
choice in the matter. But there is no reason to 
suppose that the acceptance of another doctrine, 
of other rites and ceremonies, to those in which 
she had been brought up in Stettin, was made 
unwillingly. In later years, the mature woman, 
Catherine the Empress, was to show herself 
completely at one with that school of eighteenth- 
century philosophers, many among whom became 
her friends, whose attitude to varying forms of 
religion was that of detached and academic 
tolerance. In that spirit the girl of fifteen may 
well have accepted the change of church. But it 
is also possible to see, in the great ceremony of 
the reception, led up to by her studies with her 
instructor, an early landmark in her progress 
towards identification of herself with Russia. 

The religious service completed, that evening 
the court moved into the palace of the Kremlin. 
The following day, in the Chapel of the 
Assumption, the most magnificent and most 
venerated of the chapels of the Kremlin, the 
coronation place of the Tsars, with the jewelled 

so 



PROLOGUE 

ikon of the Holy Virgin of Vladimir conspicuous 
among all the other jewelled ikons and shrines of 
gold and silver, Catherine and Peter were 
solemnly betrothed. At the same time Catherine 
was given the rank of a Grand-duchess of Russia. 

The double ceremony called forth a letter of 
congratulation from the King of Prussia. To the 
letter Catherine sent a very proper reply, and 
included a sentence of acknowledgment of the 
part Frederick had played in the matter. 

Shortly after the conclusion of the two great 
functions, the Grand-duke Peter and his be- 
trothed were commanded by the Empress to 
take a journey with her. In the course of that 
journey they came to yet another Russia, neither 
that of St. Petersburg, nor of Moscow, but the 
Russia of which the capital was Kiev, the mother 
city of all the Russian cities. Here, until a series 
of Mongol invasions had culminated in the 
middle of the thirteenth century with the terrible 
sacking of the great city, had been the seat of 
the rulers of Russia ; and here, too, had been the 
centre of a civilization as cultured, as learned, as 
artistic, as any in Europe. After the Mongols 
had been driven out, first Lithuania, and then 
Poland had claimed Kiev. In 1667, more than 
three hundred years since the Mongolian hordes 
had made it their own, it had become once more 
a Russian city. 

Standing on the west bank of the river Dnieper, 
Catherine noted, what many others were to note 

21 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

after her, how fine was the view of the city from 
the river bank. Met by a concourse of clergy, the 
royal party crossed the river to proceed on foot in 
procession, headed by an acolyte bearing aloft a 
cross,*to the great monastery or Lavra set with the 
cathedral high on a hill above the city. Nothing, 
wrote Catherine later, had ever impressed her like 
that cathedral with its splendours of gold and 
silver and jewels; although she observed with 
distaste certain practices which appeared to her 
to be merely superstitious. Neither she nor the 
Grand-duke was permitted to visit the catacombs 
which, in their degree, were as famous as the 
cathedral itself. The air in the catacombs was 
said to be dangerously bad and, in view of com- 
ments by other travellers, such may well have been 
the case. 

The Grand-duke did not, however, escape ill- 
ness. It was in the course of this journey, perhaps 
during the stay at Kiev, that the always unfor- 
tunate young man was seized by smallpox, the 
disease that was endemic over the greater part of 
Europe, not excluding the British Isles. Nor was 
he more fortunate than others in the marks which 
the complaint left upon its victims. It was noted 
that the pitting of the skin had rendered an always 
unpleasing and unwholesome countenance yet 
more unattractive; and some writers see, in the 
aftermath of the infection, a contributory cause to 
the beginning of Catherine's distaste for her 
bridegroom. 

22 



PROLOGUE 

Even if distaste did not already exist, adjust- 
ments had inevitably and constantly to be made 
in her relations with the Grand-duke, and not 
only with him. She herself laid stress on the 
difficulties that she, a girl not yet sixteen years of 
age, experienced in her endeavour to please at 
one and the same time the Empress and her 
mother, Elizabeth might be good-natured. She 
was also an autocrat. As for Johanna, thf 
exceeding unwisdom of her behaviour, based on 
her intrigues, was aggravated by her lack of even 
ordinary tact in her intercourse with Elizabeth. 
The months before her marriage cannot have been 
easy for Catherine. 

The marriage was celebrated, after two post- 
ponements, in the following year, on 25 August, 
1745. It took place, not in Moscow, but in 
St. Petersburg; in the church of Our Lady of 
Kazan, the wooden-roofed church which stood 
in the great street laid out by Peter the Great's 
architects, the Nevsky Prospect, on the site where 
the cathedral of the same name was afterward/ 
to stand. It had been built by the Empress Anne, 
to house, as the dedication implied, the miraculous 
ikon of the Virgin, removed from Kazan when in 
1579 that city, standing on the Volga, was freed 
from Mongol rule, first to Moscow, and then to 
St. Petersburg. Now the edifice was recognized 
as that closely associated with the imperial court, 
particularly for services of thanksgiving. 

In that church, wearing a robe of cloth of silver,^ 

C.G. 2 23 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

and on her head the high jewelled Russian crown 
or tiara, Catherine was married to Peter. The 
festivities which followed, and which lasted for ten 
days, were modelled on those of other weddings 
which had taken place, neither in St. Petersburg 
nor yet in Moscow, but in Dresden and at 
Versailles, the description of which Elizabeth had 
been at pains to secure. And, noted Johanna in 
the memoirs which she, too, in common with so 
many others, men and women of the day, wrote 
for herself, they were as magnificent as anything , 
ever seen in all Europe. 

This was the last that Johanna was ever to see 
of Russia, or of her daughter, or of the life in 
which she had so rejoiced. It was now intimated 
to her beyond any possibility of misunderstanding 
that she was required to return to Stettin; and 
return she did, not without substantial mementoes 
of Russia, for, to the last, as far as material things 
went, Elizabeth was generous enough. That was 
part of her character. Whisperers went further 
and said that Johanna had taken more than a fair 
advantage of that generosity, even to the cases of 
china which accompanied her from Russia. But 
in diplomacy Johanna had played her game and 
lost, as the King of Prussia was to learn. 



Chapter Two 

The Grand-duchess 

THE English minister at the court of Russia 
had remarked of the Princess of Anhalt- 
Zerbst that she was a lady who was not easily 
rebutted. Nevertheless, no success had attended 
her machinations on behalf of Frederick: she 
herself must have been aware that this was so for 
at least a year before her daughter's marriage to 
the heir of the throne and her own departure from 
Russia. 

Matters had come to a head during Catherine's 
illness in the spring and early summer of the 
previous year. The quarrels over her sick-bed had 
had a deeper significance than mere rivalry 
between the Empress Elizabeth and the Princess 
Johanna as to who had the better right to control 
the invalid and her way of life, for the political 
intrigues of Johanna, long suspected and even 
partially known, were at that moment being 
proved up to the hilt. The man who was chiefly 
instrumental in uncovering those intrigues and 
making them clear to the Empress, was the man 
against whom they had been chiefly directed. 

In that year of 1744 Bestiizhev-Ryiimin, usually 
known by the first part of his name, was fifty-one 

25 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

years of age, and had served a long apprenticeship 
in diplomacy, beginning under Peter the Great, 
chiefly in posts outside Russia. Elizabeth, on her 
succession, had brought him back to work at 
home and made him Vice-chancellor. He it was 
who had drawn up her first ukase. 

It was said of Bestuzhev that he was far more 
feared than loved. Nor was his character, accord- 
ing to most evidence, a lovable one. For he was 
said to be difficult and moody ; and withal a master 
of intrigue and a lover of power. If, as the histor- 
ian Herzen later remarked, he could show himself 
a good friend, he could also be a very bad 
enemy. 

That he himself should have enemies both at 
home and abroad was inevitable. France, already 
more than a little suspicious of the growing power 
of Russia, which might easily threaten the balance 
of power in northern and eastern Europe, was well 
aware of the importance of Bestuzhev, who stood, 
as they knew, for a strong Russia. The French 
ambassador, the Marquis de la Chetardie, had 
some years since been instructed to keep a very 
dose watch on what was going on. Frederick of 
Prussia for his part, his kingdom lying so much 
further eastward, had no doubt at all what ought 
to be done. Bestuzhev stood for Austria and 
against Prussia. Therefore he must be dealt with. 
The instructions to Johanna had been a more or 
less direct command to get xid of Bestiizhev, or 
at least to nullify his influence with Elizabeth. 

26 



THE GRAND- DUCHESS 

This was a piece of work after Johanna's own 
heart, implying the pulling of strings and, as she 
hoped, the secret exercise of power in which her 
heart delighted. There was little difficulty in 
finding other persons who were more than willing 
to play the game with her since it was their game 
also. De la Ch^tardie, on behalf of his country, 
and from his own observations, was in cordial 
agreement with Frederick that the dismissal of 
Bestiizhev must be contrived. He and the French 
agents accepted Johanna's overtures with zeal. 
So, although to a lesser degree, did those among 
the ministers and in Elizabeth's household who 
were the Vice-chancellor's personal enemies. 
Among the last were prominent two brothers, 
Alexander and Peter Shuvalov. To them, gentle- 
men of her household, the Empress owed a debt 
of gratitude for support given when she had seized 
the throne. Yet, although they were duly 
rewarded by wealth and position, it was Bestiizhev, 
whom Elizabeth is always said to have disliked 
personally, as so many others disliked him, who 
had been given high office. 

The intrigues, with the secret instructions 
coming from Frederick and from France, had been 
cleverly worked but not quite cleverly enough. 
The Vice-chancellor had his own sources of infor- 
mation and was no stranger to the game of 
intrigue. In June 1744, he had been able to 
lay before the Empress convincing evidence of 
what had been going on. The evidence included 

27 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

the revelation of the secret correspondence of the 
French ambassador with avowed enemies of 
Russia, in particular with Sweden; and the no 
less reprehensible correspondence of Johanna with 
Frederick and others. 

Before the month was out de la Ch&ardie had 
been escorted to the Russian frontier. Johanna, 
closely watched, had been allowed to remain until 
the marriage of the following year. Bestiizhev tvas 
promoted from the office of Vice-chancellor to that 
of Chancellor and the promotion was marked by 
an extensive gift of lands and a palace ; the cus- 
tomary recognition for services done for the crown. 
For him it was at once a personal triumph and a 
wholehearted endorsement of the anti-Prussian 
policy. 

But neither the Empress nor her Chancellor, 
however closely they might watch Prussia, how- 
ever dangerous they might esteem Frederick's 
military successes to be, were as yet prepared to 
plunge Russia into war. In 1 748 the War of the 
Austrian Succession came to an end without the 
direct participation of Russia. Nevertheless, a 
Russian corps had, during the last year of the war, 
crossed the Vistula and, entering Germany, made 
its way to the Rhine. The men did no fighting; 
but there were not lacking observers in Europe 
who saw the occurrence as a portent. 

For Prussia and its king the Treaty of Aix-la- 
Chapelle, closing the war, was a triumph. 
Frederick emerged not only with his seizure of 

28 



THE GRAND- DUCHESS 

Silesia ratified, but with a reputation of which 
Europe had perforce to take note. For a few years 
the continent knew an uneasy peace. 

In Russia, the young Grand-duke and duchess 
lived amid surroundings which, externally at 
least, were always grand and often magnificent. 
Everywhere rebuilding was in process; not con- 
fined to the capital, for work was being done in 
Moscow, as in Kiev. Nevertheless, it was St. 
Petersburg in particular which was now to be 
transformed as the Winter Palace had already 
been transformed by the genius of Bartolommeo 
Rastrelli and his fellow architects, from the 
German-Dutch city of its founder into one of 
Franco-Italian rococo ; elegant, like the Empress ; 
extravagant, like the Empress; and always; 
despite the foreign origin, Russian. 

In Moscow a residence was provided for the 
young couple by the addition of a wing to the 
Golivin Palace on the banks of the Yauza. In St. 
Petersburg they were given apartments in the 
Winter and Summer Palaces. There were other 
palaces, outside the city. Among them, to the 
south of the capital, was Tsarskoe Selo ; and on the 
Gulf of Finland were Peterhof and Oranienbaum. 
The Grand-duke and his duchess had their rooms 
in Tsarskoe Selo and in the palace of Peterhof ; both 
buildings in the process of being worked on by 
Rastrelli. Oranienbaum was given over to them 
for their particular use. 

Situated some twenty-five miles along the coast 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

from St. Petersburg and six from Peterhof, the 
palace of Oranienbaum had been erected by a 
lieutenant of Peter the Great, one of the first of 
the princely residences to be built in the vicinity 
of the capital, taking its name, as did others also, 
from the village by which it stood. Then disgrace 
had overtaken the owner and his palace had 
become an imperial palace. For the Grand-duke 
and his duchess, the building having become a good 
deal the worse for wear, alterations were effected 
by Rastrelli's compatriot, Antonio Rinaldi, 
who, leaving much of the original structure 
intact, added pavilions and a Chinese house, those 
devices beloved of the eighteenth-century archi- 
tect. Outside, the balustraded garden terraces of 
the days of Peter the Great led down to the waters 
of the gulf across which could be seen the fortress 
of Cronstadt. 

In this palace of Oranienbaum and in the other 
palaces, where were found the splendour of the 
east and the elegance of the west, but where 
magnificence concealed, as Catherine had long 
ago observed when she first saw Moscow, some- 
thing very like squalor, comfort mingling with 
discomfort, everyday life as prescribed for 
the young couple was, as far as authority 
could make it, hemmed around. There was a 
code of rules to be followed under rigid and close 
surveillance. 

The rules were laid down and the surveillance 
was provided for in two sets of instructions. They 

30 



THE GRAND -DUOHESS 

had been drawn up by the Chancellor with the 
approval of the Empress. 

In any event, for it was nothing more than in 
accordance with court custom, regulations would 
have been set forth for the guidance of the young 
couple, the behaviour expected of them, what 
their manner of life should in general be. That 
the Grand-duke was heir to the throne necessarily 
implied for him and for his wife the observance of 
such conventions and restrictions. More than this, 
no official of experience was likely to lose sight 
of the danger, a latent danger wherever there were 
two courts, that the lesser court might become not 
only a focal point for court camarillas, but a 
centre of political intrigue, both domestic and 
foreign. It was a risk that no authority could 
afford to take and Bestiizhev knew it. That the 
systems prescribed for the observance of the Grand- 
duke and duchess went considerably beyond the 
usual code was in great part due to his belief that 
in this case the danger was peculiarly acute. 

He had justification for his belief. The Grand- 
duke Peter had become the admiring and wholly 
uncritical disciple of the King of Prussia. This 
hero worship, for it was nothing more and nothing 
less, of Peter for Frederick must be assigned in the 
first instance to the strong racial feeling in which 
the German inheritance from his father totally 
eclipsed the Russian inheritance from his mother. 
But with this, and reinforcing it, went the ever- 
growing passion for militarism, or at all events, 

31 



[CATHERINE THE GREAT 

for playing at militarism, long since observed in 
the boy and now, in the young man, amounting 
to a mania. Lastly, there must be taken into 
account what was becoming in Peter yet more 
apparent as time went on ; the neurotic symptoms 
of a young man placed in a high position which 
he was unfitted to fill, surrounded by difficulties 
with which he was unfitted to cope. So he found 
an outlet in his idolatry of Frederick, a travesty 
not without pathos of the dictum that to believe 
in the heroic makes a hero. 

It was small wonder that Bestiizhev, whose 
opinions on the Prussian danger had changed no 
whit, should view the predilection of the Grand- 
duke for the Prussian King with distrust and 
apprehension. Nor was the Chancellor satisfied 
that trouble would not come from the Grand- 
duchess. He could forget neither Catherine's 
origins German birth on both sides nor yet 
the part played by her mother, that lively, 
intriguing and highly dangerous lady. So the 
preamble to the charge issued for the guidance of 
the governor and governess of the lesser court 
ordered that any interest displayed by the Grand- 
duchess in political affairs was to be checked at 
once. From the Chancellor's point of view, this 
was an entirely logical proceeding. It was also 
one that might contain the seeds of a good deal of 
trouble. A further definite order was that 
Catherine's correspondence with her mother 
should be strictly supervised. 

3* 



THE GRAND -DUCHESS 

Catherine's early life had been spent under all 
the rigour of a small German court. She was now 
governed, interfered with, watched over, as never 
before. That the scheme which now regulated her 
life, and that of her husband, had been drawn up 
by Besttizhev she was well aware ; and she was no 
more inclined at this moment to look upon him 
with favour than he so to look upon her. To the 
Chancellor the young woman was a possible 
source of danger; and, she later wrote with 
considerable vehemence, he took pleasure in any 
humiliation it was possible to put upon her. 

Bestiizhev was not the only one who on 
occasion took pleasure in humiliating Catherine. 
It was observed that the Empress was often rude 
to the young Grand-duchess in public and that 
any friendliness or kindness the older woman had 
once shown the wife of her heir almost entirely 
ceased. Jealousy had something to say in the 
matter ; resentment at the strength of character 
which Elizabeth was far too shrewd not to divine ; 
the strength of character which lay beneath 
Catherine's submissiveness ; and disappointment. 
Disappointment as it was borne in upon the 
Empress what manner of man her nephew, of 
whom she had hoped so much, really was. 
Disappointment at Catherine's failure, after 
several years of marriage, to produce an heir. 

Hence petty and intensely irritating persecu- 
tions of both Grand-duke and Grand-duchess; 
and above all, the deliberate isolating of the 

33 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

younger court from all affairs of importance, 
though never any relaxation of the watch kept on 
every detail of the life lived therein day by day. 

Here the Grand-duke and Grand-duchess 
suffered alike ; and here, and only here, was there 
any sympathy between them. It was not sufficient 
to bring together a couple to whom a few years 
of marriage had revealed their complete incompat- 
ibility one with the other. 

Despite the Empress, despite the Chancellor, the 
vital factor for Catherine during those years when 
she was growing into maturity she was nineteen 
when the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed in 
1748 must have been the character of her hus- 
band, even making allowance for the conventional, 
almost artificial view of marriage that obtained in 
the eighteenth century, at any rate in court and 
aristocratic circles. 

In her later analysis of the situation, Catherine 
accentuated the gulf between Peter's tastes and 
her own, the complete lack of any intellectual 
sympathy between them. She would, she wrote, 
have liked to read with him, but he cared only for 
tales of bandits and those had no interest for 
her. Nor could she, unfortunately, abide Peter's 
fiddle, on which she declared he merely made ear- 
splitting sounds. But the fact that Catherine, a 
clever girl, rapidly growing into a very able 
woman, was married to a man of, at the best, 
limited intelligence, need not have made the 
marriage a failure, certainly did not account for 

34 



THE GRAND -DUCHESS 

all that was to come after. She had genuinely 
wished to love Peter, continued Catherine, it was 
his debauched habits which revolted her. 

The unfortunate Grand-duke may or may not 
have been quite so debauched as was later repre- 
sented. Allowance must be made for the emphasis 
later placed on his unpleasing qualities by his 
widow, defending herself, and by those who were 
concerned to defend her. That he had mistresses 
meant, in that age and in those circles, little or 
nothing. Nor is it probable his wife would have 
raised any serious objections to such diversions, 
even though she felt herself justified in resenting 
her husband's remark, in the third week of their 
marriage, that he greatly preferred Traulein 
Garr' a lady of the household, of Scottish 
origin to her. But such tales and there were 
many of them as those of horrible cruelty to his 
pet dogs, and a curious story of a rat he sentenced 
to die, military fashion, by his own sword, have, it is 
more than likely, some foundation in fact, as also 
those of his violence when drunk. There is corrob- 
oration to some extent from even those who wished 
him welL 

Life as Grand-duchess was not easy for 
Catherine. Always there must have been the 
sense of being cribbed, cabined and confined: 

^..Tf-jtir- -'_ -__ - .. ~- - -^ , 

spied upon, in her bedroom, in the great salons of 
whatever palace in which the lesser court was 
living, as she walked along the terraced gardens of 
Oranienbaum. Always there was the hard fact 

35 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

of the marriage tie between her and a husband 
with whom she was ever less and less in sympathy, 
and, further, for whose personal habits she was 
ever feeling more and yet more distaste. 

Certain alleviations offered themselves. She and 
the Empress had at least one taste in common. 
Both were passionately fond of dancing; and both 
were expert in that art. Catherine's other devotion 
was to riding. This accomplishment she is said 
to have acquired only after her arrival in Russia. 
Having acquired it, she indulged in it with fervour, 
insisting on riding astride, to the fury of the 
Empress, who forbade this form of equitation. 
The prohibition was circumvented by Catherine 
finding, or having found for her, a saddle which 
could be used for any style of riding. 

Catherine, in short, even in such a small matter, 
was, in the circumstances in which she found 
herself, taking her life into her own hands. 

And not in such a small matter only. Partly, 
perhaps, unconsciously, partly consciously, she 
was wresting advantage from her circumstances in 
giving herself what has been called her second 
education. She was reading voraciously. 

It was quite in character that this reading 
should, it is said, have included every Russian book 
on which she could lay her hands. From the first 
she had set herself to learn the Russian language 
as thoroughly as she might. That was part of the 
process of which Bestiizhev, for one, had, at any 
rate at first, entirely failed to grasp the significance. 

36 



THE GRAND -DUCHESS 

There were Russian books at hand. The first 
printing press in Russia had been set up 1^564, 
Ey~ Ivan the Terrible. Throughout the next 
century learning had been stimulated by the 
arrival in Moscow of scholars from Kiev, whose 
tradition of learning had been buried under the 
Mongol invasions but had not been killed and 
was now reviving. Peter the Great had founded 
the first Russian newspaper and he had ordained 
a~ simplification of the Russian script. Here, 
however, as everywhere, Peter also looked west, 
and he had ordered many translations of foreign 
books. After his death foreign influence, the 
influence pre-eminently of Germany and of 
France, became supreme in the Russian world of 
books. That influence remained supreme for many 
years to come, even though when Catherine was 
thus continuing her education, some stirring of 
the soil which held the seeds of the future flowers 
of Russian literature was already apparent. 
Michael Lomonosov, the son of a peasant of 
Archangel, a poet and a scholar, was breaking 
new ground in his writings in Russian. The 
foundation of the first Russian university, that of 
Moscow, was at hand. 

Nevertheless, by far the greater part of what 
Catherine read in Russian must have been 
modelled on foreign authors and have been in 
consequence only too often stilted and pedantic 
in style. In the long run it was other literature, 
the literature of France, the expression of French 

37 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

thought, in which her mind became soaked. 

Beginning with such volumes as the Letters 
of Madame de Stvignt, the works of Brant6me, 
of Rabelais and of Montaigne, of Molire and of 
Corneille, she turned presently to Tacitus, of 
whose Annals she wrote that the reading of them 
had worked a peculiar revolution in her mind. 
But two other writers exercised yet stronger 
y influence. She had commenced to read Voltaire 
as early as 1744; and in that same year she is also 
said to have been recommended, by one of her 
well-wishers at court, to read the two notable 
books which had given Montesquieu his place in 
the literary world. Neither On the Causes of the 
Grandeur and Decline of the Romans, nor the earlier 
Persian Letters, had, however, appealed to her. 
But in 1748 appeared the Spirit of the Laws; and 
upon this she is quoted as having fallen in ecstasy. 
That ecstasy was a source of later inspiration. 

Catherine herself later stressed the consolation 
that she, in her gilded cage, had found in her 
studies. But neither books, nor much less riding 
and dancing, and other courtly amusements, 
completely filled her life. She had another side to 
her nature and that side demanded satisfaction. 

The Grand-duchess was perhaps twenty-two or 
twenty-three years of age when she had her first 
liaison with the court chamberlain, Sergei 
Saltikov. He was a young man of whom she wrote, 
that he was as beautiful as the day, so that no one 
high or low had ever been his like. The good 

38 



THE GRAND -DUCHESS 

looks were generally conceded but according to 
his critics the young man had not otherwise much 
to recommend him. The French Ambassador 
went so far as to say that he was ignorant, taste- 
less, and in short, without any merit whatsoever* 
Howsoever this may have been, the connection 
with Saltikov shows itself in some respects 33 
more pleasing than those with others which came 
after: in so far as it may be seen as the not 
unnatural outcome of the situation in which 
Catherine found herself in relation to her husband 
a young woman, desiring love, desiring the 
fulfilment of her natural instincts, tied in a 
marriage without affection to a man whose 
physical and mental characteristics were, at 
the best, unpleasing and, in the eyes of many, 
repulsive. 

But this first affair can also be taken as a 
pointer to the other and later adventures in love. 
Catherine was more and more to show herself 
as frankly sensual. In that sensuality, she also 
showed herself capable of something like real 
affection. But withal, although the heart keeps 
its own secrets, everything in the life of the Grand- 
duchess, as of the Empress that was to be, implies 
that passion was not at any time her master. The 
quality of her mind was ever reinforced by the 
cool, calculating ambition that, however con- 
cealed at the moment, penetrating observers had 
already perceived in the adolescent girl. It was a 
Russian historian who later emphasized the dictum 

39 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

of Ernest Renan : that history which sought to be 
true should not pay excessive attention to the 
personal manners and customs of rulers, when 
these had not greatly influenced the course of 
events. This most sensible saying, wrote Brian- 
Chianinov, should be kept in mind when consider- 
ing Catherine and her lovers. Certainly her 
relations with each and every one of those lovers, 
whatever affection and kindliness she might for 
the time being feel towards them, was for 
Catherine a passing phase. It is doubtful, did the 
phase endure over months or years, whether she 
ever lost control of herself or of the situation. 
And, while some of the lovers in particular played 
their parts in the pattern of the life and work 
of the Empress, Kenan's aphorism may be 
accepted as true of the main scheme of that life 
and work. 

Sergei Saltikov soon disappeared. He was sent 
to Stockholm in the diplomatic service and so got 
rid of within a very short space of time. 

But it was while he was still in attendance on 
Catherine that an event, one for which the 
Empress Elizabeth had been eagerly awaitihg, an 
event of significance for the present as for the 
future, had taken place. In 1754 a living child, 
and that child a son, was at last born to Catherine. 

Given the circumstances, quite well known at 
any rate in the circles of the two courts, it was 
inevitable that there should have been at the 
time, and should continue to be later, speculation 

40 



THE GRAND -DUCHESS 

as to whether the Grand-duke or the handsome 
Saltikov was the child's father. On the whole the 
paternity of the former was, and has been, 
generally, though not universally, accepted. As 
the boy grew older he was said to show a marked 
physical resemblance to the Grand-duke; certain 
traits in his character might well be seen as an 
inheritance from the same source. The fact that 
Catherine never cared for her son, even to display- 
ing at times active dislike of him, was not infre- 
quently cited as further proof that he was her 
child by her husband. But it must be admitted 
that she was not allowed the opportunity to 
know or to grow fond of her child during the early 
years of his life. Elizabeth, delighted with the 
long-wished-for birth of an heir, an event which 
she hoped would ensure continuance of the line, 
had the infant taken away from his mother almost 
immediately after his birth, in order that he might 
be brought up under her own particular care. 
This arbitrary separation of mother and child may 
well, in part at least, explain the later relations 
between the two. In the immediate present, the 
action of the Empress had the result of widening 
the gulf between Catherine and her husband. It 
also widened the breach, already so apparent to 
the more acute observers of both courts, between 
Catherine and the Empress; between the lesser 
court and the greater. 

Once more Catherine, thrown back upon her- 
self with even more emphasis than before, can be 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

seen at her books. Her mind, her ever-active, 
assimilative mind, now found new material on 
which to feed. In 1750 Denis Diderot* had pro- 
duced his scheme to collect into an encyclopaedia 
all active writers, all new ideas, and all new know- 
ledge: and 1751 had seen the publication of the 
first volume. This was precisely the kind of work 
to appeal to Catherine. During the early years of 
the seventeen-fifties she was turning to Diderot, 
D'Alembert, and the whole school of the encyclo- 
paedists. And always she was reading Voltaire 
Voltaire, who during those years was visiting 
Frederick in Berlin, quarrelling with him, and 
finally, after sojourns in various German cities, 
arriving at Geneva; having begun the collection 
of the writings contributed and to be contributed 
to the encyclopaedia, to appear as his Dictionary of 
Philosophy. It was this work that now particularly 
attracted Catherine's attention. 

Contact with the ideas expressed by the 
philosophers from whose influence the age 
of reason took its name, marked a stage in 
Catherine's intellectual development. The course 
of events at the Russian court and elsewhere drew 
her, at the same time, from contemplative to other, 
more active, interests. In the midst of her reading, 
she was beginning to play her part in the game of 
politics. 

As far back as 1 749 the Empress Elizabeth had 
had a serious illness, from which she had not at 
one moment been expected to recover. She did 

42 



THE GRAND -DUCHESS 

recover, but those around her saw her henceforth 
as an ageing woman, although in years only in 
middle life. The full-blown peasant stock was, 
perhaps, prone to premature exhaustion; and, in 
any case, Elizabeth, in her mode of life, had taken 
many liberties with the robust health she had 
inherited from her Lithuanian mother. As the 
vigour, if not the life, of any man or woman in a 
prominent position can be seen to be on the wane, 
there arises inevitably speculation and, too often, 
intrigue as well. The Russian court was no excep- 
tion to the rule; and everything in the past 
history of the Russian crown emphasized the 
apprehensions, the hopes, the secret schemes, 
excited and induced by a possible demise of that 
crown. The lesser court, Catherine with her 
ambition, her cool foresight, Peter with his own 
ideas, were alive to changes which seemed to be 
impending : which, even if delayed, must come. 
In official circles, Bestiizhev and his enemies the 
Shuvalovs, who had always kept their position 
near the Empress, watched her and watched each 
other. Nor did they forget the heir to the throne 
and his wife. 

There is evidence that at least as early as 1 754, 
the year of the birth of Catherine's son, Bestiizhev, 
although his position at court, despite his enemies, 
was still stable, and his influence with the Empress 
undiminished, had begun to make new disposi- 
tions in that he was casting a meditative eye on 
the younger court, and on one person in that court 

43 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

in particular. That he was now convinced of the 
ineptitude of Peter and, in contrast, of the ability 
and strength of character of Catherine is clear. 
He made an approach to Catherine, and from 
Catherine came response. In August, 1754, she 
wrote to her mother, with whom she always kept 
up a correspondence, that she was delighted to 
know that the latter approved this close but very 
secret affiliation between herself and the Chan- 
cellor. Whether the two liked each other any 
better than they had ever done, what was the 
private view each of the other, mattered little. 
What was of vital importance was the recognition 
by each of the useful part the other might play. 
From this time onwards, Catherine was drawn 
into that vortex of politics against which her 
father, in taking leave of her, had so urgently 
warned her. That hoary warning of father to 
daughter had been fundamentally sound. It 
was, as one of Catherine's biographers, Dr. 
Alexander Brttckner, has pointed out, quite 
unthinkable that Catherine would, in the long 
run, heed it. And now, having embarked on 
her new course, all she had learnt in the 
previous years from her reading, from the 
bitter draughts she had been forced to swallow by 
the Empress, no less than by Bestuzhev himself, 
from her observation of the life around her, 
served her well. That she and the Chancellor 
were contemplating what might befall on the 
death of the Empress is clear. It may be that 

44 



THE GRAND -DUCHESS 

Bestiizhev was already thinking in terms of the 
putting aside of the Grand-duke and the substitu- 
tion on the throne of the young son with a regency 
for Catherine. 

But politics at home were inextricably mixed up 
with, and their course to a great extent directed 
by, affairs in Europe. As the period of feverish 
repose which followed the peace of 1748 drew to 
a close, it became evident that the renewal of war 
in Europe, with Prussia and Austria as principal 
antagonists, was merely a question of time. At St. 
Petersburg, the Chancellor had no doubt as to the 
policy that should, under the circumstances, be 
pursued by Russia. As he had ever been so he was 
still convinced, that Frederick of Prussia was a 
menace to Europe in general and Russia in partic- 
ular. Therefore, as he saw it, there must be 
renewed alliance with, and support of, Austria. 
But he had also been working for another alliance. 
In the coming struggle, France would, he believed, 
maintain her traditional enmity towards Austria. 
And he disliked and distrusted France almost as 
much as he disliked and distrusted Prussia, not 
only on political, but on personal grounds. It was 
the French Ambassador and French agents who 
had played their part with the Princess of Anhalt- 
Zerbst in her endeavour, as commissioned by 
Frederick, to secure his own downfall. It was, 
however, evident to him, as to all, that France 
and England were once again about to grapple 
one with the other outside Europe. The logical 

45 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

course to pursue was, considered the Chancellor, 
to work for an Anglo-Russian alliance. In the 
arrival in St. Petersburg, in 1755, of a new 
English minister, he saw his chance. 

The new arrival was Sir Charles Hanbury- 
Williams, a man of parts, a satirical poet as well 
as a diplomatist, who had served at Dresden and 
at Berlin. Since his instructions were to secure an 
understanding with Russia as a bulwark against 
& possible attack by Frederick upon the electorate 
of Hanover, the path of the negotiations entered 
upon almost immediately on his arrival seemed 
smooth enough. And so, for the time being, it 
proved. On 19 September, 1 755, a convention was 
signed between the two countries. Russia was to 
keep 50,000 men on the Livonian frontier ready, 
if and when necessary, to march into Prussian 
territory; and was also to deploy a number of 
galleys along the coast. In return England prom- 
ised an annual subsidy of 100,000 which would 
be quintupled should the troops and galleys be 
used in war. 

In England the convention was in accordance 
with the foreign policy of the Duke of Newcastle, 
who had taken office the previous year. It was a 
policy founded on a system of alliances in return 
for subsidies. But the negotiations had also been 
carried through, as William Pitt and his followers 
saw, and disapproved what they saw, in deference 
to the determination of George II to secure, at all 
costs, the safety of Hanover, so dear to his heart 

46 



THE GRAND -DUCHESS 

Pitt, however, had been dismissed from his office 
of paymaster-general; and the King, Newcastle 
and Sir Charles Hanbury- Williams on the one 
side and Bestiizhev on the other had accomplished 
their aim. To the Chancellor, all seemed to be 
going well. 

Frederick, never forgetting the menace from his 
eastern neighbour, was thoroughly startled by the 
drawing together of that neighbour and England, 
and thoroughly alarmed by the terms of an agree- 
ment between them which would in the event of 
war bring an incursion of Russian troops into 
Prussia. He knew the importance of Hanover in 
the eyes of George II. An approach on that 
subject had, indeed, already been made to him. 
He now made an approach in his turn. In Jan- 
uary, 1756, not four months after what he had 
seen as a triumph, the Russian Chancellor was 
thunderstruck to learn that another convention 
had been signed ; this time between Great Britain 
and Prussia. Known as the convention of West- 
minster, it provided that Prussia and Hanover 
should respect each other's neutrality; and that 
neither of the two should permit the entry of a 
foreign army on to German soil. 

Frederick was well pleased. Across the water, 
Newcastle had apparently persuaded hitiiself that 
this convention was not incompatible with that 
signed a few months earlier with Russia. At the 
same time Pitt and his followers accepted the new 
agreement. Pitt had no more liking than before 

47 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

for any transaction carried through in the interests 
of Hanover. But the ominous implications of the 
ever-growing power of France out-weighed other 
considerations. That country was already chal- 
lenging England on the high seas and in the posses- 
sions beyond the seas. Did she, as seemed might 
well be the case, over-run Europe, the invasion 
of England, for which she was known to be prepar- 
ing, became not a probability but a certainty; 
and England was, at the moment, as Pitt well 
knew, almost defenceless. In such circumstances, an 
arrangement with Frederick was highly desirable. 
The news of the earlier convention between 
England and Russia had already aroused the 
anger of France. At that of the convention of 
Westminster the anger became fury. An emissary 
was promptly sent off to Berlin to ask for an 
explanation. Frederick's endeavours to smooth 
the matter over by explaining that his agreement 
with England by no means implied hostility on 
his part towards France were completely un- 
successful. France turned her back on Prussia 
and looked towards her ancient enemy, Austria. 
The time was propitious. Austria was still 
smarting under the rape of Silesia, and the 
Austrian Chancellor, Kaunitz, favoured an 
approach to France. He now had little difficulty 
in persuading his Empress that the obliteration of 
the ancient enmity between Austria and France 
was well worth while if it meant the destruction of 
Frederick and the recovery of the stolen province. 



THE GRAND -DUCHESS 

In May, 1756, the treaty of Versailles, bringing 
Austria and France together, put the coping stone 
on the change in the diplomatic situation in 
central and western Europe. Three months later, 
on 27 August, Frederick^ seeing himself threatened 
by this formidable coalition, repeated his opening 
move of the last struggle; and marched into 
Saxony without the formality of a declaration of 
war. The conflict that was to be known as The 
Seven Years War had begun. It remained for 
Russia to decide on her course of action. 

To the unfortunate Bestuzhev. as in a lesser 
degree to Sir Charles Hanbury- Williams, the 
announcement of the signing of the convention 
of Westminster had been a shattering blow. The 
earlier treaty on which the two had spent so much 
pains, and which the Chancellor had believed to 
be essential as part of Russia's foreign policy, was 
now, as both men saw, whatever Newcastle in 
England might say, no more than waste paper. 
Likewise Bestuzhev knew, beyond any possibility 
of doubt, how greatly the whole affair had weak- 
ened his own standing with Elizabeth, even though 
he retained his office and to outward appearances 
the position was as before. 

Awareness of the growing strength of his 
enemies at court, as well as the continued convic- 
tion that the Empress would not live into old age, 
drew the Chancellor more and more toward 
the lesser court, and Catherine. In this he was 
not alone. 

49 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

From the first weeks of his arrival in Russia 
Sir Charles Hanbury- Williams had paid court to 
Catherine. In his despatches he wrote that the 
health of the Empress was bad, and that he 
believed, in the event of her death, power would 
rest with Catherine rather than with Peter; and 
Catherine was, he found, well disposed towards 
England. Apart from his recognition of her 
strength of character, Sir Charles found much in 
Catherine to attract him ; and the attraction was 
mutual, although based, perhaps, rather on intel- 
lectual affinity than on anything else. It was, in 
fact, one of the secretaries attached to the staff 
of the English minister, a young Polish prince, 
Stanislas Poniatowski, who now became Cather- 
ine's lover. But intercourse with those two exper- 
ienced diplomatists, Bestiizhev and Hanbury- 
Williams, must have been a further step in 
Catherine's education. So the game was played 
behind the back of the Empress. Bestiizhev and 
Hanbury- Williams, each jealous of the influence 
of the other with Catherine, but each recognizing 
her importance for the future as she recognized 
theirs. And, for Catherine, the additional pleasure 
of a new lover, the Polish prince, elegant, culti- 
vated, with distinguished manners, who could be 
used, and who was used as an intermediary by all 
three of the players of the game, and by their 
friends. 

Yet Bestiizhev might well have regained some of 
the influence he had lost with Elizabeth but for his 

50 



THE GRAND -DUCHESS 

invincible dislike and distrust of France. He 
refused to recognize that, in view of the diplomatic 
revolution which had brought together Austria 
and France against Prussia, the obvious course for 
Russia to pursue as an ally of Austria and oppon- 
ent of Prussia was an approach to France. It was 
a course that was being urged on the Empress by 
the Shuvalovs, always inclined to France. They 
triumphed. In January, 1757, Russia declared 
her adherence to the treaty of Versailles, as 
negotiated by Austria and France. 

The following August a Russian army under 
General Stephan Apratkin crossed the Vistula 
and entered East Prussia. On the soth of the 
month they defeated the Prussian army at Gross 
Jagerndorf. What had been looked upon, quite 
erroneously as was now proved, as a body of half- 
trained inexperienced troops, had triumphed over 
forces renowned throughout Europe for their 
military efficiency. To Frederick the shock was 
considerable; none the less so because his armies 
had already during the past year been hard pressed 
by the coalition forces of Austria and France. Yet 
for the time being the Russian victory seemed to 
bring little result. After remaining in East Prussia 
throughout September, chiefly occupied in march- 
ing and counter-marching his men, Apratkin 
withdrew once more behind the Vistula, having 
made no attempt to follow up his success or even 
to consolidate it. From the military point of view 
the obvious explanation was that offered by the 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

General in his own defence: the difficulty of 
bringing up supplies. This difficulty was compli- 
cated by another. Apratkin's army was composed 
of two sets of forces widely different from one 
another. He had his infantry whose training and 
discipline had astonished Frederick for one. But 
he also had his horsemen, mainly Cossacks, terrible 
to their opponents in their onslaught, nevertheless 
ever freebooters, not easily susceptible to control, 
and apt to quit the main body of the army 
according to their own desires. This portion of his 
forces certainly began, after the battle, to melt 
away. Apratkin may well have thought that as 
a commander, he had no choice but to retire for 
the winter into Russian territory. The with- 
drawal, however, had far-reaching repercussions 
within Russia. 

In September the Empress was at Tsarskoe Selo. 
Attending Mass one morning at the parish church, 
she was seized with an apoplectic fit. Instantly the 
rumour spread that her seizure was the direct 
result of her anger and anxiety caused by the 
retreat. Available evidence points to there being 
no connection whatever between the two happen- 
ings ; and the war council in St. Petersburg had, 
in fact, with the consent of the Empress, them- 
selves ordered the withdrawal a fortnight earlier. 
The point of the rumour, however, was that the 
withdrawal was connected with the name of 
Bestuzhev. He, whispered his opponents and 
particularly the Shuvalovs, had seduced Apratkin, 

5* 



THE OR AND -DUCHESS 

the latter willingly consenting to play the part of 
a traitor. And, so the whispers continued, the 
Grand-duchess had also been privy to the 
proceedings. 

It was, to say the least, highly improbable that 
Bestuzhev, whose lifelong policy had been opposi- 
tion to Prussia, would have thus deliberately 
played into the hands of Frederick, nor does it 
seem likely that Apratkin would have so sacrificed 
his military reputation. For that matter, too, it 
was the Grand-duke who was, as the new French 
ambassador called him, the ape of Frederick, not 
Catherine. Nevertheless, Apratkin was undoubt- 
edly involved in the understanding that existed 
between the Grand-duchess and the Chancellor, 
with the English minister playing his part. And 
not he only. Among others, the Russian minister- 
plenipotentiary in Stockholm, Count Nikita Panin, 
whose father, an Italian of Lucca, had been 
lieutenant-general to Peter the Great, had entered 
into correspondence with both the Grand-duchess 
and Sir Charles Hanbury- Williams. 

The stay of the last-named in Russia was, 
however, drawing to a close. In the autumn he 
took ship from Cronstadt leaving behind him a 
state of affairs of which the Shuvalovs and the 
court camarilla which they directed took instant 
advantage. 

As the Empress in some measure recovered her 
health, one piece of evidence after another was 
placed before her; and early in 1758 orders were 

53 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

given for the arrest of Bestiizhev and Apratkin. 
The charge was of conspiracy with the Grand- 
duchess to withdraw the army in order to have 
it ready for a coup d'etat on behalf of Catherine in 
the event of the death of the Empress. This was 
a far more explicable charge than that of having 
endeavoured to aid Frederick ; and also far more 
dangerous to the persons concerned. No one was 
in a position to know better than the Empress just 
what part the army could play in the matter of 
succession to the crown. Nor can there be any 
doubt that the Chancellor and the Grand-duchess 
in conjunction with the English minister had been 
skating on very thin ice indeed. Now came accus- 
ations and counter-accusations, intrigue and 
counter-intrigue. Bestiizhev was not helped by the 
share taken in the proceedings by the newly 
arrived ambassador from France, Paul de PHop- 
ital, who was active against the unfortunate 
Chancellor. It was an action more under- 
standable from him than the similar course 
followed by Count Esterhazy, who represented 
Austria, a country always supported by Bestiizhev. 
Finally, in these happenings, Johanna von Anhalt- 
Zerbst once more appeared on the horizon. 
Johanna, a widow since 1747, had a short time 
before arrived in Paris and in the last years of her 
life was again trying her hand at the diplomatic 
game. No more success than before attended her 
efforts; she died in 1759, a poor woman, a 
disappointed woman, only cheered before the end 

54 



THE GRAND -DUCHESS 

by a few presents which Catherine contrived to 
send her. 

In the meantime Catherine, Bestiizhev and 
Apratkin had to face the situation. Apratkin was 
condemned to death as a traitor. His sentence 
was, however, commuted to imprisonment, during 
which, in the following year, he died. Bestiizhev, 
confronted by his accusers, protested his innocence. 
His enemies asked that torture might be used to 
extract a confession. This the Empress refused to 
allow. She contented herself with depriving the 
Chancellor of his office. He was succeeded by the 
Vice-chancellor and former Chamberlain, Count 
Michael Vorontsov, not a man of outstanding 
character. There remained the Grand-duchess to 
be dealt with. 

Catherine had not at any time deceived herself 
as to the danger inherent in what she was doing. 
And that danger, she knew well, was the greater 
because of the rapid worsening of relations 
between herself and her husband. Whatever she, 
and others, might think of Peter, whatever his 
weaknesses, he remained her husband and no less 
heir to the throne of Russia, an inheritance that 
would, in the belief of many, be very shortly 
entered upon. Now, enamoured of the most 
recent of his mistresses, Elizabeth Vorontsov, niece 
of the newly appointed Chancellor, he was openly 
evincing dislike of the wife who despised him, and 
he may already have been thinking, as he 
was certainly to think a little later, in terms of 

c.0,-3 55 



CATHERINE THE OREAT 

divorce for the one and marriage with the other. 
Under such conditions, a slip might well have 
sealed Catherine's fate and she later admitted that 
she had always had fears as to what might have 
happened to her during the lifetime of the 
Empress. She would have been unnatural indeed 
not to be shaken when, Sir Charles Hanbury- 
Williams gone, Bestiizhev in disgrace, she was 
finally summoned into the presence of the Empress 
and of her husband to account for her actions. 
Her memoirs give a description of the scene. The 
hour was midnight and the place the imperial 
bed-chamber that long room with its three great 
windows and its dressing tables spread with 
glittering, golden toilet appointments. Catherine, 
advancing, flung herself at the feet of the Empress, 
protesting her loyalty, while the Grand-duke stood 
by with, as she wrote, a malignant look on his face. 
Bestiizhev had destroyed the correspondence 
between Catherine and himself. But other letters 
had been found and brought to the room, incrim- 
inating letters. Despite these, despite what 
Elizabeth had been told, despite the unconcealed 
animosity of the Grand-duke, Catherine 
triumphed. She left the bedroom at three in the 
morning, still a free woman, to spend the following 
days in retirement in her own rooms, consoling 
herself, as she afterwards remarked, by turning 
over the leaves of the first volume of the Ency- 
clopedia. When, finally, she again emerged into 
public, she was able to say that she found the 

56 



THE GRAND -DUCHESS 

Empress somewhat softened towards her. The 
opinion of de 1'Hdpital, expressed in a despatch 
written a little later, was that Elizabeth, a sick 
and ageing woman, had made up her mind not to 
worry any more about the conduct of either the 
Grand-duke or the Grand-duchess. One thing 
she could and did do. She kept them both 
lamentably short of money. 

In these last days of her life, Elizabeth must, in 
respect of her heir and his wife, both chosen by 
herself, have been a yet more deeply disappointed 
and disillusioned woman. But in one matter her 
determination did not falter. Often irritated by 
the lack of support on the part of her allies, 
France and Austria, angry at their dissensions, it 
was the will of Elizabeth that her army should 
continue until the might of Prussia should, as 
she hoped, be quelled. 

In the spring of 1758 the Russian army once 
more crossed the Prussian frontier, and although 
this time Frederick triumphed at the battle of 
Zorndorf, the victory was nullified by a loss of men 
which he could ill afford ; and no less by the skill 
with which the Russian infantry were withdrawn, 
the troops whom Frederick had learned to dread, 
not only for their numbers but for the steadfastness 
with which they could fight. Against them he 
could set his own men, trained to a degree of 
military efficiency as perhaps no army before them 
had ever been. But, even with what was to all 
intents and purposes a system of kidnapping, 

57 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

Frederick could not compete with his opponents 
in man-power. At the same time the Russian 
irregular horse and Cossacks, under no such 
discipline as were the infantry, were once more 
terrorizing the countryside. When, in 1759, the 
Russians, after another stay in winter quarters, 
entered Pomerania and inflicted a decisive defeat 
upon the Prussians at Kunersdorf, Frederick fell 
into despair. It was one of the moments in his 
career when, believing all lost, he contemplated 
the possibility of suicide. The weakness of the 
Russian position was, however, what could have 
been and had been, brought forward in defence 
of Apratkin : the difficulty of supplies which forced 
withdrawal during the winter months. So it 
happened again after Kunersdorf, that Frederick 
had some respite. 

It was the events of the following year, 1 760, 
that impressed upon Prussia and its king the 
danger in which they stood. In the spring advance 
the Russians this time crossed the Oder; and 
parties of Cossacks, pressing on, reached and 
raided Berlin. The situation grew worse when, 
during the winter, the invading army at last 
did not go behind the Vistula but remained in 
Pomerania. 

Throughout the following year Frederick, 
pressed on all sides, believed himself again and 
again to be at his last gasp. His one ally, England, 
where George III had succeeded George II, was 
not prepared to help him even to the extent of 

58 



THE GRAND -DUCHESS 

sending a fleet to the Baltic, nor had that ally ever 
broken off diplomatic relations with his enemy, 
Russia. His best hope lay in the dispositions of his 
opponents. The energies of France were primarily 
directed towards the struggle with her particular 
enemy, England; on the high seas; in India; in 
North America. There was, too, a lack of co- 
ordination between the Russian and Austrian 
armies. Nevertheless, it seemed as the year 1761 
drew to its close, that when, in the following spring, 
Russia should once more advance, with Pomer- 
ania as her base, it would be the end of Frederick. 
But before the next year had well opened, the 
entire situation had changed. 

All the summer the Empress had been at 
Peterhof, a very sick woman. In October she came 
back to the capital, and was installed in the Winter 
Palace. That palace had been since 1754 once 
more in the process of rebuilding, again under the 
direction of Rastrelli, and was even now not quite 
finished. But the Empress never saw the com- 
pletion of the work. In December she had another 
apoplectic seizure. It proved to be the last and the 
fatal one. She died, fifty-two years of age, on 
the twenty-third of the month (4 January, 1762, 
N.S.). 



59 



Chapter Three 

The Empress Consort 

THE death of the Empress might well, in the 
opinion of more than one of her contempor- 
aries, have precipitated an immediate crisis. So 
nervous had been the Chancellor Vorontsov that 
he, always a slight, unmeritable man, had deliber- 
ately absented himself from court during the last 
few days of the life of Elizabeth, pleading illness. 
He, like others, knew that, during the time of long 
anticipation of the end, many schemes, other than 
those which had come into the full light of day, 
had been hatching. For some little time now it had 
been no close secret that the intention of the 
Grand-duke had been, once tie became his own 
master, to divorce and banish his wife, declare the 
boy Paul a bastard ; and marry Elizabeth Voront- 
sov. But each figure which stood near the throne 
had in his or her turn been the subject of suggested 
conspiracy. The Shuvalovs, for their part, were 
well known to have a plan whereby Paul, instead 
of being deprived of his succession, was himself to 
be placed on the throne, and not only his father, 
but his mother likewise, sent into banishment. 

Information of the existence of this plot had 
been conveyed to Catherine by Sir Charles 

60 



THE EMPRESS CONSORT 

Hanbury- Williams, who had added that in his 
opinion the matter was sufficiently serious; and 
that the Grand-duchess had better look to her own 
safety. On that point Catherine was wholly of the 
same mind as Sir Charles. But, she had told him, 
her ideas for the future did not include any project 
of seeking sanctuary at the court of King George 
of England. Rather, she intended to keep herself, 
and her son, safe in Russia; and always she 
would try to conciliate her enemies in preference 
to alienating them. Now Sir Charles lay in his 
tomb in Westminster Abbey, for he had not long 
survived his retreat from Russia; and Peter 
Shuvalov was a dying man he survived his 
Empress only ten days. He had been the leading 
person in the family and the group ; and with his 
illness and death the danger arising out of a move 
by his party, danger which threatened Catherine 
as well as her husband, receded. The possibility 
of trouble from other quarters remained; and 
among other warnings one had reached Catherine 
on the night of 9 December (20 December, N.S.), 
when there had appeared in her bedchamber a 
young woman who was to become one of her 
closest friends and admirers. The lady was the 
Princess Daschkov, the eighteen-year-old sister of 
Peter's mistress, Elizabeth Vorontsov; in which 
relationship and as niece of the Chancellor she was 
in a position to collect a good deal of information. 
She now announced to Catherine that plans were 
afoot which threatened the latter's position, 

61 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

possibly even her life. To that Catherine replied 
in the same vein as she had replied to Sir Charles 
Hanbury- Williams. She was, she told her young 
friend, quite content to remain calm and to await 
what fortune should send her. 

Five nights later Catherine stood by her hus- 
band's side in the death chamber of the Empress; 
and from that death chamber the senior senator 
stepped forth to proclaim the accession to the 
throne, as Peter HI, of Elizabeth's nephew and 
heir. Despite the disturbed and turgid movements 
which had played so big a part in the background 
of the last years of Elizabeth, all had gone smoothly 
for the moment. Peter and Catherine became 
Emperor that imperial title adopted by the first 
Peter and Empress Consort of Russia with no 
voice raised against them; but with every eye 
fixed upon them, judging them, appraising them. 

Outside Russia, one person at least must have 
felt a great lightening of the spirit, when informed 
by his messengers that the Empress of Russia, 
whose end had for so long been anticipated, had 
now at last succumbed. And when, early in 
February, emissaries from the newly acceded 
Emperor of Russia arrived in Breslau with pro- 
posals for peace, Frederick of Prussia was justified 
in his belief that all would now be well with him. 

That Peter would make peace was a foregone 
conclusion; and a treaty favourable to Russia 
might well have been acquiesced in. Many of 
those in the immediate royal circle had no desire 
62 



THE EMPRESS CONSORT 

to continue with the war, and it is more than 
probable that Catherine might have been num- 
bered with these. The difference between the 
outlook of this group and that of Peter was, how- 
ever, quickly apparent. Russia was, as the former 
saw clearly, in a very strong position to demand 
good terms, in the face of her successes in the field ; 
with her troops occupying East Prussia and part of 
Pomerania and her ally, Austria, on Frederick's 
flank in Silesia. In London the Russian Ambassa- 
dor told the Prime Minister, Lord Bute, that 
Russia would certainly not evacuate the conquered 
provinces and would claim, as a right, final 
possession of East Prussia. It was indeed known, 
if not then, at least a little later, that Frederick 
would have been willing to give up East Prussia 
were he to be given in exchange, and guaranteed, 
the secure possession of Saxony. But when put 
forward that suggestion was disallowed by the 
other interested powers. In his negotiations with 
Peter, however, the King of Prussia had it all his 
own way. 

On 24 April (5 May, N.S.) the Emperor of 
Russia signed a document which restored to 
Prussia all the territory occupied and held in 
recent years by Russia; with a clause providing 
for close alliance and amity between the two 
countries. 

The public announcement of what was in effect 
complete surrender to Prussia was followed by 
celebrations offered to the people, in St. Peters- 

63 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

burg, in Moscow and elsewhere, that they, too, 
might rejoice. As was usual, street tableaux were 
included and one of these displayed to the inhab- 
itants of St. Petersburg a representation of Russia 
and Prussia meeting together in love and unity. 
The Russian populace were hardly likely to have 
taken an interest in, or know anything of, foreign 
policy. The ministers, and others in a position to 
judge of what had happened and was happening, 
were deeply offended. 

Yet, almost at the same moment, Peter took 
another step, one concerning internal affairs, 
which should, under normal conditions, have 
ensured his popularity with the nobility and the 
gentry. In the month of May he issued an edict 
which released the upper classes from their 
remaining obligations to do state service. In so 
doing he pulled the linch-pin from the scheme 
of social structure which had been laid down by 
Peter the Great. This linch-pin had, it must be 
said, already considerably loosened. Peter's act 
gave impetus to a course of events that was already 
in train, and, being unchecked, was ultimately to 
end in catastrophe. 

Peter the Great had developed the idea of a 
state in which service should be due from all. 
Thus he had created, or, more truly, reconstruc- 
ted, a standing army and navy and a standing 
civil administration combined with a court 
officialdom, in one or other of which all men of the 
upper classes a term practically conterminous 



THE EMPRESS CONSORT 

with that of landowners were compelled to serve 
and to be educated, as of obligation, for that 
purpose. At the same time any one, however 
humble his origin, might, having entered on one 
of these employments, climb upwards through the 
fourteen grades into which the civil administration 
was divided, or attain officer rank in the army or 
the navy. The first eight grades for civilian and 
all officer rank carried with them entry into the 
gentry and landowning class of society, with, in 
appropriate cases, titles of nobility. Thus, while 
this class was greatly, even enormously, augmented 
it might also be claimed that membership thereof 
depended not upon birth but upon service. And 
to a great degree this was so. But the scheme had 
many weak points, not omitting the influence of 
wealth and position and, above all, of favouritism. 

Two of the weakest points, carrying with them 
seeds of future trouble, stood out clearly. What had 
been done was to reorganize a bureaucracy which 
was already in existence, and upon which the 
rulers of Russia had always been dependent. 
As reconstituted, this bureaucracy, subject to no 
check save that of the crown and its delegates, 
became more powerful than ever before. 

At the same time the swelling of the ranks of 
the privileged class implied a corresponding 
increase in the number of serf-owners. It was 
small wonder that the desire of this class, not 
excluding those newly admitted to it, was to 
secure further privileges and to ease their obliga- 

65 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

tions; and that once the iron hand of Peter the 
Great had been removed they should have set 
themselves to do both. Moreover, while their own 
position had been thus improving, that of the 
peasants who were largely their serfs, and to a 
great extent that of other workers also, such as 
those in industry, had been deteriorating. 

Slavery, in the strictest sense of the word, to 
which a man might be brought by such factors as 
captivity or crime or debt, existed in the old 
Russia which was Muscovy as elsewhere in 
medieval Europe. But the wholesale transform- 
ation of free men into serfs, which brought about 
the condition of affairs as it was in 1762, had its 
origin in ideas which, when originally promul- 
gated, had seemed reasonable ; yet held the seeds 
of extreme evil. Fundamental among these ideas 
was that which insisted upon the tying of the agri- 
cultural worker or peasant in especial although 
again other classes of workers were involved to 
one particular estate or one particular master. 
That master might be the state or the crown, for 
there were many crown peasants, or an individual 
landowner or employer, great or small. 

Such a tying up had been conceived of as a 
necessity. From the time when Russia had begun 
to expand under the rule of Moscow, it had been 
clear that the prosperity of the country, perhaps 
even its survival, depended upon the efficient 
working of agriculture. Here authority had found 
itself confronted by a double problem. On the 

66 



THE EMPRESS CONSORT 

one hand was the grave shortage of workers on the 
land. This was by no means a problem peculiar 
to Russia. It was one with which other countries, 
including, particularly in the sixteenth century, 
England, had had to grapple. In Russia the 
difficulties were increased, on the one hand, by the 
immensity of the country, the great stretches of 
land requiring workers, and, on the other, by 
certain characteristics of the peasant in Russia. He 
was, as John Maynard has pointed out in his 
sympathetic study, entitled The Russian Peasant, 
a peasant in whom the nomad survived; a man 
who, with much of the Asiatic in him, had instinc- 
tively a taste for being always on the move. The 
vast Russian forests, the great Russian plains 
which rolled on to commingle with the forests and 
plains of Asia, with only the break in one spot 
made by the comparatively low range of the Ural 
mountains, offered plenty of room in which to 
wander. If the soil in one spot should prove un- 
productive, or were the surroundings unattractive, 
nothing was easier for a man, for a family, for a 
group of families, even amounting to a whole 
village, to move on elsewhere. The landowners, 
in their turn, were not slow to secure necessary 
labour, either by the offer of better conditions than 
prevailed in other places or more simply by a 
process of kidnapping. 

Hence the story of the growth of serfdom is very 
largely the story of a series of edicts, spread over 
many years, which at first limited, and then 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

finally prohibited, any freedom of movement 
whatsoever for agricultural workers and, to a 
greater extent as time went on, for other workers 
also. By the time Peter the Great had come to the 
throne a considerable section of the peasants 
had lost their ancient right of changing their 
masters at will, once a year, at the date approxi- 
mating to Michaelmas ; did they run away, they 
were reckoned as criminals; in short, for many, 
a condition of human bondage had been reached. 
Next, the edicts of Peter himself, while imposing 
compulsory service on all, had at the same time 
bound the peasants more closely to their masters ; 
by the poll tax, which had the effect of linking 
together the masters who, from 1730 onwards, 
were made responsible for its collection with the 
state against the peasants ; by the passport system, 
by which a peasant could not pass the boundary of 
his master's estate without a written permission, 
only given to the head of a family ; and, above all, 
by the quickening up of the process by which 
those who, till now, had enjoyed varying degrees 
of personal freedom there had always been an 
infinite number of grades of peasantdom had 
had that freedom gradually pared down until all 
alike were reduced to the common level of bond- 
age. The lowest point had been reached when the 
peasant-serf could, whether under conditions or 
no, be bought and sold. Here again the under- 
lying theory had been that since the land was 
useless without the worker, the latter must go 

68 



THE EMPRESS CONSORT 

with the land, whether it was a case of sale or a 
gift from the crown for services rendered. But in 
practice, in spite of legislation, serfs, during the 
eighteenth century, could be, and frequently were, 
sold as individuals, not as attached to property. 

Then came the edict of May, 1762, destroying 
what remained of the balanced obligations of each 
class as Peter the Great had conceived of them. 
Once the upper strata of society had been freed 
from compulsory service, justice and logic then 
required that the class below should likewise be 
freed from serving under conditions over which 
they had no control, conditions which left them 
at the mercy of their masters ; conditions which 
might vary, as writers on the subject have shown, 
from being tolerable, save always for the negation 
of personal freedom, to something that was 
unspeakably bad, according as the individual 
master was good, bad or indifferent. 

And even, in 1762, under Peter III, logic and 
justice did have something to say. There arose a 
rumour that a second edict, one that would at 
least have given the peasants and their fellows 
some sort of freedom, had been prepared and had 
been suppressed. Whether this was so or not, that 
rumour bore fruit in the future. 

What, or who* had suggested to Peter the issue 
of the May edict, must be largely a matter for 
surmise. As an attempt, if it was so meant, to 
gain the sympathy of the upper classes, it was 
entirely unsuccessful, holding nothing wherewith 

69 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

to counterbalance the distrust already excited by 
what had been seen of his character as Grand- 
duke ; a distrust which during the five months of 
his reign had been increasing by leaps and 
bounds. 

The nature of the pact with Frederick had been 
a primary cause of offence. The same unwisdom, 
the same infatuation for his idol, had moved the 
Emperor to antagonize two groups in the com- 
munity whom he could ill afford to antagonize. 
In the very first weeks of his succession he had 
offended the dignitaries of the church, and others 
with them, by his neglect of the ecclesiastical 
ceremonies that counted for so much in the life of 
Russia ; and to neglect he had added scoffing and 
jeering. His next step threatened the very life of 
the Orthodox Church, for he proposed that it 
should reform itself so as to approximate to the 
Lutheran model, while all its property was to be 
secularized. 

Similarly the army had been threatened. 
Long since Peter had played, in so far as he had 
been allowed, the part of a Prussian drill-master, 
with such soldiers as he had at his command, and 
in particular the regiment of guards drawn from 
his own principality of Holstein. Now he would 
have the entire Russian army submitted to such 
drill masters and so Prussianized in good earnest. 
Hasty and ill-advised, such moves must in atny 
event have been resented. The resentment had 
behind it all the scorn felt for, all the apprehen- 

70 



THE EMPRESS CONSORT 

sions excited by, the antics of a ruler who, intoxi- 
cated with power, was seen to be vainer, more' 
arrogant and, above all, more unstable than before. 
In the background stood Catherine. Onlookers 
were agreed that the Emperor seldom, if ever, 
consulted her on affairs. They saw also that where 
the personal relationship was concerned the breach 
between the two was complete. Even while the 
Emperor redoubled his attentions to Elizabeth 
Vorontsov, he was treating Catherine, not only in 
private but in public, with unashamed rudeness 
and even brutality. Divorce from the latter and 
marriage with the former was now, everyone 
suspected, at hand. Those watching Catherine, 
including the representatives of foreign courts, 
noted her dignity when subjected to open slights 
and insolence. New arrivals noted too, what had 
long been perceived by those in proximity to 
her, the impression conveyed of character and of 
ability. Outside Russia, the King of Prussia, 
writing to the English envoy in St. Petersburg, 
recommended that he should take Catherine's 
opinion on affairs, whenever he deemed it neces- 
sary or desirable. Frederick had, in fact, already 
long since summed up the importance of the 
woman whom he had helped to place where she 
was. He was far from being the only one to do 
so. In the background to which her husband had 
consigned her, Catherine received ministers and 
ambassadors. And, to set against Peter's mistress, 
she had a new lover. He was Oregon Orlov, one 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

of the five sons of a former governor of Novgorod ; 
handsome, able and young; twenty-eight years of 
age against thirty-five years of the Empress. 

So the weeks, the uneasy weeks, passed; and 
matters went from bad to worse. Peter's ever- 
growing infatuation for Frederick and for Prussia 
was marked by his constant references to his idol 
on all occasions. When, in the early summer, he 
received from Frederick what he had long coveted, 
the Order of the Black Eagle, he celebrated the 
event by a day-long cannonade from the fortress 
of St. Peter and St. Paul ; and announced that 
henceforth he would wear this order and no other. 
Elsewhere manifestations of his folly and his irres- 
ponsibility and his viciousness increased daily. 
It was said openly that the Chancellor had begged 
to be allowed to resign and go into private life. 

The end came quickly. The Russian crown 
had suffered violence before. It was about to 
suffer it again. During the month of June Peter 
was at Oranienbaum, amusing himself with his 
fiddle and, as ever, with military exercises. 
Catherine was at Peterhof occupying the pavilion 
in the park known as Mon Plaisir. Thence she 
came over to Oranienbaum on a visit to her 
husband ; and at an entertainment given for them 
at another great house, they appeared together for 
the last time. 

It was probably at this point that Peter was 
warned that mischief was afoot. He took no notice 
at the moment. But for him the end was very 

72 



THE EMPRESS CONSORT 

near. There was, indeed, a conspiracy brewing. 

The actors in the plot were all of one mind in 
that they were determined that Peter must be 
removed from the throne. It was as to what should 
happen after he had gone that they differed. The 
Princess Daschkov, who, according to her own 
account, was one of the principals, seems to have 
been of those who wanted the crown for the seven- 
year-old Grand-duke Paul, with a regency for 
Catherine. The princess had, it was said, been the 
one to persuade Count Nikita Panin, the former 
diplomat correspondent of Catherine and Sir 
Charles Hanbury- Williams, to join the conspira- 
tors. But probably little persuasion was required. 
The Count had been brought back from Stockholm 
the previous year, to be made tutor and governor 
to the little Grand-duke ; an office which gave him 
ample opportunity to survey the situation. He 
now joined those who proposed to place the boy 
on the throne, with his mother as regent. 

But others were involved ; notably Catherine's 
lover, Gregori Orlov, intent upon the aggrandize- 
ment of Catherine. With Gregori were his eldest 
brother, Alexis, perhaps the ablest of the family, 
and a younger brother, Theodore. It must be 
added, that apart from the personal relationship 
between Grcgori and Catherine, the former and 
his family stood out among that section of the 
nobility who, in the new growth of Slav national 
feeling, most resented the threatened Germaniza- 
tion of Russia at the hands of her ruler. From 

73 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

the practical point of view the Orlovs had one 
supreme advantage. They were in touch with 
the army; and it was with the support of the 
army that they acted. 

In the early hours of 28 June (9 July, N.S.), 
Alexis Orlov arrived at Mon Plaisir and asked for 
Catherine to be wakened. To her he communi- 
cated that the moment for action had come and 
must be seized. Otherwise all might be in danger 
since it was known that information was reaching 
Peter,. There was no delay. Catherine, under 
the escort of Alexis, left for St. Petersburg one 
tale subsequently told in the capital was that she 
got out of a window of the pavilion. On the road 
the travellers were met by Gregori Orlov, who 
took them to the guards 9 barracks standing at the 
approach to the capital. At the barracks 
Catherine received the homage of the three 
principal regiments. But there was still no time 
to waste; and the procession, now augmented 
by companies of the guards, went on to enter 
St. Petersburg and turn into the Nevsky Prospect, 
making for the church of Our Lady of Kazan, 
the church in which seventeen years earlier 
the marriage of Peter and Catherine had been 
celebrated. It was not yet nine in the morning 
when the edifice was reached. But messages 
had gone out. On the entrance steps the events 
of the day were subsequently recorded in a series 
of paintings was standing the Archbishop of 
Novgorod ; and with him a crowd of clergy and 

74 



THE EMPRESS CONSORT 

nobles. And there, too, was the little Grand-duke 
Paul with Count Panin. A Spanish diplomat, 
whose dwelling was close to the church, reported 
that so great had been the hurry that the child, 
when seen seated by his governor in the carriage 
which brought them to the church, was still wear- 
ing his nightcap. Nor, according to the same 
informant, were all the soldiers fully dressed. But 
fourteen thousand of them closed round the 
church as Catherine entered, to hear herself 
proclaimed by the Archbishop as Empress of 
Russia; with the rider that her son, the Grand- 
duke Paul, was her natural heir and successor. 

In that moment, as Bruckner has pointed out, 
Peter's fate was sealed. In that moment, it might 
be added, some at least of those present must have 
become aware that matters were not going to take 
precisely the course they had in mind. 

From the church the whole party went on to the 
Winter Palace. Within and without the building, 
now almost complete, was a great crowd more 
officials, more clergy, more of the army and a con- 
course of the people of the capital. To the officials 
and clergy Catherine read a manifesto; then, 
stepping on to the balcony in response to the 
shouts of the crowd gathered there, she received a 
tumultuous welcome. Peter was about to pay very 
dear for the wilful alienation of every section of 
society that counted and who could almost, at their 
will, rouse the populace. 

Busy at Oranienbaum drilling his Holstein 

75 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

Guards, the Emperor seems to have known nothing 
all that day of what was happening in his capital. 
He learned something of the story the following 
day, almost fortuitously, from a peasant. He then 
decided to go over to Peterhof and did so, to find, 
as he had been forewarned, that Catherine was 
not there. Some hours of bewilderment followed. 
Peter had with him Vorontsov, Alexander 
Shuvalov and the senior senator, Prince Trou- 
bezkoi. He could, he believed, count on his 
Holsteiners. The Chancellor, Shuvalov and 
Troubezkoi decided to make their way to the 
capital, to ascertain what was really happening. 
Peter never saw any of them again. He himself, 
it was determined, should go to Cronstadt, where 
it was hoped he would have the protection of the 
fleet. But he never reached that fortress. He was 
at Oranienbaum when Catherine came back to 
Peterhof in the early hours of the first day of July 
(12 July, N.S.). 

It was an amazing return. The party had left 
the capital late the previous evening; Catherine, 
mounted on a white horse, riding at the head of 
her troops. She wore uniform, a man's uniform, 
borrowed from a young lieutenant. Her hat was 
wreathed with oak-leaves. Those who watched 
remarked on her fine horsemanship, the horseman- 
ship perfected in her early days in Russia ; on the 
manner in which she held herself; on her trium- 
phant countenance. At her side, also in male 
uniform, rode the Princess Daschkov. And so, in 

76 



THE EMPRESS CONSORT 

the summer night, they came to Peterhof. Within 
twenty-four hours Peter, fetched with Elizabeth 
Vorontsov from Oranienbaum by Alexis Orlov, 
had signed his abdication and had been removed, 
still in the custody of Alexis, to Ropsha, a pretty 
little chateau standing in its park in the little 
village of the same name, a few miles to the south 
of St. Petersburg. 

How this struck a contemporary is recorded by 
one of the letter writers of England. Information 
about the events occurring in Russia inevitably 
travelled slowly. On 31 July, Horace Walpolc 
heard at Strawberry Hill that the Emperor of 
Russia had been dethroned. On i o August, he was 
able to write to George Montagu : 

'What do you say to a czarina mounting 
horse and marching at the head of 14,000 men 
to dethrone her husband ? Yet she is not the 
only Virago in the country. The conspiracy 
was conducted by the sister of the czar's mis- 
tress, a heroine under twenty! They have no 
fewer than two czars now in coops, that is, 
supposing these gentle damsels have murdered 
neither of them. . . . Here's room for meditation 
ev'n to madness. . . . 

'This is the fourth czarina you anc 
to be sure as historians we 
our time ill. Mrs. Anne Pitty 
envies a heroine of twenty, sa^p 4iye/czarina has 
only robbed Peter to pay Pa 




CATHERINE THE GREAT 

Mrs. Anne Pitt was the fifty-year-old, sharp- 
tongued, eccentric very eccentric indeed, poor 
lady, as she grew older sister of William Pitt. 

The second of the two rulers, to whom Walpolc 
alluded, was the unfortunate young man who, 
as a babe, had been known as Ivan VI. He had 
been barely a year old when he had been hurried 
away by guards at the command of Elizabeth, the 
day she had seized the throne. Ever since he had 
been kept a close prisoner in the island fortress 
of Schlusselberg Peter the Great's key fortress at 
the source of the Neva as it issued from Lake 
Ladoga a pathetic, half-forgotten, but still living 
figure. 

In the matter of the other Emperor, who had, 
indeed, occupied the throne, they, or some of 
them, took no chances. Walpole's surmise that 
even as he wrote Peter might no longer be alive 
was correct. 

Orlov, his soldiers and companions, carrying 
the Emperor with them, had reached Ropsha 
on 30 June (n July, N,S.). Peter was then 
said to have been ill in mind and body. It is 
certain that doctors were called in. A few days 
passed. On the night of 5 July (16 July, N.S.) 
Peter died. Before burial in the monastery to 
which the coffin was consigned, his body was 
exhibited. For this course of action the reasons 
were obvious. The Russian authorities knew all 
about the possibility of resuscitated claimants to 
the throne* 

78 



THE EMPRESS CONSORT 

The various narratives concerning the fate of 
the unfortunate man have been collected and set 
forth by the historian of his reign. But even so, 
Mr. Nisbet Bain has reached no absolute con- 
clusion. The statement of Orlov was simple 
enough. The Emperor, he reported, had met 
his death in a drunken scuffle after supper; 
and, added Orlov, neither he nor anyone else 
remembered what had actually occurred. There 
was never any real doubt, either then or later, that 
murder had been done. How it was accomplished, 
who were involved, and, above all, the part, if 
any, played by Catherine, remain matters for 
speculation. 

Many years afterwards, one night in May, 1804, 
when Catherine herself had lain for some years in 
her grave, the Princess Daschkov, who had survived 
her mistress, told a friend, the Englishwoman, 
Catherine Wilmot, to whom the princess was in 
the habit of reading every evening extracts from 
Catherine's correspondence, sometimes to the 
boredom of her friend she came in again with a 
pile of letters, wrote Miss Wilmot, with a touch 
of weariness that the murder had been con- 
nived at by almost every man in St. Petersburg, 
and that even before this, his rooms had always 
been guarded because of known hatreds for 
him. His wife, continued the princess, had 
often remarked on this state of affairs and had 
added that as far as her own safety was con- 
cerned no guards were necessary. The state- 

79 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

ment probably sums up, not badly, the respective 
positions occupied by Peter and Catherine in the 
world of St. Petersburg and Moscow, a small 
world, indeed, compared with the great stretches 
of the rest of Russia, but, in the matter of 
dethroning and enthroning a sovereign, the only 
world that counted. 

In England, Horace Walpole, writing to the 
Countess of Ailesbury after news of the death had 
been confirmed, told her that while there was no 
question that Peter had been murdered, public 
opinion was much divided as to the instrument. 
Some thought it was the wife ; others said it was 
the Archbishop of Novgorod. The view of the 
writer was that while the Archbishop would 
doubtless, like other priests, think assassination a 
less affront to Heaven than three Lutheran 
churches, the instigator of the crime was the lady 
for whom, among a variety of other titles, none 
of them complimentary, that he gave her, he 
coined the name of Catherine Slay-Czar. 

Frederick of Prussia, being informed that the 
Emperor had died of colic, remarked that every- 
one knew the nature of the colic. A few days later 
he wrote to the Queen of Sweden that Catherine, 
in her ambition, had risked all and had not 
scrupled to poison her husband. To Prince Henry 
of Prussia he said that the blood of the grandson 
of Peter the Great cried out against her. But 
all Frederick's correspondence during these weeks 
when news was filtering through from Russia 

80 



THE EMPRESS CONSORT 

testifies to his perturbation : his fear of a reversal 
of the policy Peter had pursued towards Prussia : 
a declaration that the treaty of alliance was null 
and void. Twenty years later, when he and 
Catherine had long been correspondents, the 
King of Prussia was, or said he was, of another 
opinion. He told the ambassador, Sgur, on 
his way from France to take up his post in 
St. Petersburg, that personally he had never 
held Catherine to blame. In his opinion, she, a 
foreigner in the land, on the point of being 
divorced and shut up for life, had thrown her- 
self into the hands of the Orlovs. And even so, 
he thought she had known nothing of the intended 
murder ; and that, left to herself, she would have 
kept Peter alive; partly because she believed he 
could be made harmless, partly because she saw 
or thought she saw the effect that putting him 
out of the world would have on public opinion, 
both inside and outside Russia. The Orlovs, 
continued Frederick to the ambassador, had been 
more clear-sighted than she. They had seen that 
Peter must die. As for the Princess Daschkov, 
that young lady, in the judgment of the King of 
Prussia, had been in the whole business nothing 
more than the silly fly buzzing on the wheel. The 
change of opinion may well have derived from 
later information received. It may equally have 
been affected by the political relations between 
himself and the Empress. 
There remains the imponderable factor of 

81 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

human nature. Catherine's own memoirs can 
only be read as those of a woman desiring to 
justify herself to herself an attitude of mind that 
must always be taken into consideration in any 
estimate of Catherine and to the world. And 
this is particularly relevant to all she wrote of her 
husband and her life with him. Yet, according to 
her lights, she had, during at least the early years 
of her marriage, done her best for Peter. At no 
time in her life did she show herself cruel for 
cruelty's sake. Rather the contrary. Her corres- 
pondence, her recorded utterances, her manipula- 
tion of events in moments of crisis, all go to show 
her mind was fixed on a future in which she would 
be the predominant figure. This may have meant 
nothing more than that she was sure that as 
between her husband and herself she would lead 
in all that was of importance. But as the situation 
developed, and she and her supporters perceived 
the real danger conveyed by the threat of divorce, 
her very coolness of judgment, her self-mastery, 
harnessed to her ambition, may have told as much 
against the wretched Peter as the passion of 
another and a different woman might have done. 



82 



Chapter Four 

The Empress 

FW. MAITLAND, writing of Scottish affairs 
j as they appeared in the sixteenth century, 
remarked : 

'A king shall be kidnapped and a king shall 
be murdered, as of old it is the custom of the 
country. What is new is that far-sighted men 
all over Europe . . . should take an interest in 
these barbarous deeds, this customary turmoil.' 

The words might have been written of Russian 
affairs two hundred years later. 

On 7 July (18 July, N.S.), 1762, Catherine 
issued an edict. Therein she announced to the 
people of Russia that her husband, the Emperor 
Peter III, had died suddenly in the course of an 
attack of the illness to which he had long been 
subject. At the same time she made it amply 
clear that she regarded herself as his successor. 
Neither here, nor in the earliest manifesto issued 
at the Winter Palace, did she even hint that she 
might rule on behalf of her seven-year-old son. 

The idea of a regency, an idea which had been 
in the mind of more than one of her supporters, 
found no response in the mind of Catherine. 

83 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

Were the customary law of succession to be 
observed the boy Paul was at this* moment 
undoubtedly the true successor to the throne of 
Russia, unless the claim of the unhappy Ivan VI 
was to be considered. 

Observance of the usual law of succession had 
not, however, been a conspicuous element in the 
history of the Russian crown in the years gone by. 
This, in itself, was in one sense a help to Catherine. 
What she was now doing, others, and some of them 
of her own sex, had done before her. And she 
could claim, as others had claimed before her, 
that she succeeded by virtue 6f her connections 
by marriage with the royal house of Romanov. 
The quasi-mystic sentiment behind such a claim 
was a powerful one. The assembly of the land, 
which, in 1613 had chosen the first of the Romanov 
line as Tsar, had done so because of his connec- 
tions by marriage with the royal family of Rurik. 
As the great-nephew of the wife of Ivan the 
Terrible, the last of the Rurik dynasty, Michael 
Romanov, of a family of noble but not exalted 
rank, had been held in some sort to represent the 
ancient line. So, too, Peter the Great, never 
nominating his heir as he had by his own edict 
intended to do that law was a dead letter from 
the first had been succeeded by his widow 
Catherine the Lithuanian. Now another 
Catherine claimed in her turn to succeed Peter 
III; Peter who had been hurried out of the 
world, if not by her connivance at least as the 



THE EMPRESS 

work of her friends and supporters. And, 
as was written of another country in another 
age, far-sighted men all over Europe took an 
interest in the deed ; and the possible results. 

In England the manifesto, when it reached the 
country, was given considerable prominence in 
the news sheets. A piece of 'honest impudence in 
modern majesty/ was Horace Walpole's com- 
ment ; and he expressed the opinion that the title 
of a princess of Anhalt-Zerbst to the crown was 
not likely to appeal to the good Muscovite. In 
common with many another onlooker, he did not 
give Catherine power of continuance for many 
months. 

That there was danger, many in St. Petersburg 
and in Moscow were well aware. There was 
reason for hurrying on the preparation for the 
great act of coronation which should set the seal 
on the earlier proclamations. In September the 
court left the new capital for the old. The cere- 
mony took place on the 22nd of that month. 

The figure who on that September day stood 
on the customary platform in the nave of the 
Chapel of the Assumption within the Kremlin, 
wearing a dress of cloth of silver, with trim- 
mings of the imperial ermine, was, as the 
English Envoy, the Earl of Buckinghamshire, 
who came to St. Petersburg in 1762, set down in 
his memoranda, that of a woman of scarcely more 
than middle height, with features that were 
nothing out of the ordinary. But the glossy 

85 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

chestnut-coloured hair massed under the high 
jewelled Russian crown was beautiful, and the 
blue eyes beneath were remarkable for their 
brightness. The head, too, was well poised on a 
long neck. It was the carriage of the head that was 
seen to lend dignity to the entire figure ; a dignity 
that was in keeping with the impression received 
by onlookers of pride and power and will, over- 
bearing will, informing the whole personality. 

A medal cast in commemoration of the cere- 
mony showed Catherine seated ; her head resting 
on her raised left arm and hand, while two male 
figures attired after the Roman fashion, one kneel- 
ing, are offering her the imperial crown placed on 
a cushion. For, however brought to the throne, 
the ruler of Russia received the crown that he or 
she might place it on his or her own head. 

After the coronation came for the people the 
usual galas and entertainments which stretched, 
not over days, but over weeks. They were fully 
described with gusto by the Princess Daschkov in 
her memoirs ; that young lady being as triumphant 
as ever Walpole had pictured her. But as the 
celebrations died down the trouble that had been 
foreseen made its appearance, more of it than was 
ever officially admitted. 

On the whole, mildness had been the keynote of 
the treatment of those who had supported Peter. 
The Chancellor Vorontsov had been sent to live 
outside Russia; other officials had been expected 
to withdraw into private life. Nothing worse had 

86 



THE EMPRESS 

happened to Elizabeth Vorontsov than to be 
ordered to return to her parents* house in Moscow, 
and not to show her face at court again. Catherine 
still pursued the rule that had been hers when 
treading her thorny path as Grand-duchess: to 
conciliate and win over any who might become 
dangerous enemies. Members of the families of 
both Shuvalov and Vorontsov continued to serve 
the Empress and the state. 

The refusal to indulge in vindictive action was 
well advised and probably the vast majority of 
those around Catherine were of the opinion that 
Russia was well rid of Peter. Yet there were still 
many who resented the passing over of Peter's 
son in the succession to his father's throne. 
The appearance of the little Grand-duke at his 
mother's coronation had been the signal for a 
burst of shouting and cheering which in its 
excess might have been held to be somewhat 
ominous. There were, too, the inevitable dis- 
contents and jealousies, always fostered by a 
coup d'etat. 

Three outbreaks assumed a serious aspect. The 
first, which took place shortly after the coro- 
nation, originated in the army. In the second, 
which occurred in the following year, the 
standard of revolt was raised by an able and trucu- 
lent ecclesiastic, the Archbishop of Rostov, it 
being understood that while the Empress pro- 
claimed herself a devout daughter of the church 
she never made the mistake, as Peter had done, of 

C.G.- 4 87 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

belittling its ceremonies or of under-rating its 
influence she intended to continue the policy of 
secularization of the church lands. Both revolts 
were quelled. The Archbishop was degraded and 
transferred, as simple monk, to a distant cloister. 
But in his diatribes against Catherine he had pro- 
claimed, although for him it was a secondary 
matter, that the true heir to the throne was either 
the Grand-duke Paul or Ivan VI. Catherine 
should have been regent for the one, or might, in 
his opinion, have married the other. Then, within 
a year, the third and most violent outbreak did 
centre around the pitiful figure of the prisoner in 
the island fortress. A widespread political con- 
spiracy aimed at getting rid of Catherine, 
rescuing the twenty-four-year-old Ivan, and 
placing him on the throne. Ivan paid with his 
life for the attempt to use him as a cat's-paw. He 
was strangled by his gaolers as the attack on the 
fortress was being made. Briickner, examining the 
evidence, has pronounced Catherine guiltless of 
the murder; but has pointed out that her undis- 
guised relief at the news of the death, even as she 
deplored it, made an unfavourable impression on 
foreign diplomats. That manifestation of relief, no 
less than her earlier agitation, both evident, were 
witnesses to the stress to which the tidings of the 
conspiracy as they reached her had subjected her. 
The awareness of further danger, of the threat 
which the person of her own son offered to her 
security, never left her. It was a state of affairs 

38 



THE EMPRESS 

that pulled the relationship between the two 
still fiirther awry. Nor was the plot which had 
brought about the murder of Ivan by any means 
the last political intrigue Catherine had to face. 
Nevertheless, such as did occur came the more 
seldom to the surface as the Empress strengthened 
her position. Much had already been done ; many 
foundations had already been laid, despite the 
disturbances, in the two years which had elapsed 
since the coronation. 

During those years, and especially when con- 
spiracies had threatened, Catherine had had 
steady support from Gregori Orlov and his follow- 
ing. On the coronation he had been given the 
title of Count, and a lavish grant of lands. Both 
within Russia and without, the possibility of a 
marriage between him and Catherine had been 
freely discussed. There was no marriage. Catherine 
went her way alone. Orlov presently ceased to 
be her lover and was replaced by another. But 
he remained at her side. It was not he, however, 
who became her chief minister. That position 
was given to Count Nikita Panin. 

Some years since, Catherine and Sir Charles 
Hanbury- Williams had agreed that when the time 
came the time to which both had steadily looked 
forward Panin would make an excellent minister. 
In particular his diplomatic experience he had 
been at Stockholm before going to Copenhagen 
fitted him for a post in which his principal 
function would be to deal with foreign affairs. 

89 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

To Catherine he had proved his worth in the 
events of the last years of Elizabeth ; and in the 
happenings which had led up to her own succes- 
sion, even though she knew that Panin had been 
among those who had planned for her a regency, 
not the crown. Working with Panin at first was 
Bestuzhev, brought back from exile* given a seat 
on the council and a pension. But Best\izhev was 
an old and worn-out man and soon dropped out of 
the picture. 

In the field of foreign policy one immediate 
decision had to be taken. The obsession of the late 
Emperor for Frederick and the terms of the agree- 
ment made with that prince had been one of the 
factors, perhaps the principal factor, which had 
brought about his own destruction. His widow and 
successor had to make up her mind, and to make it 
up quickly, what action Russia should take in 
relation to the war which had now been raging for 
six years. Maria Theresa and her ministers hoped 
for a complete reversal of policy ; Russia acting 
with Austria against Prussia. Frederick had 
cause for the state of perturbation into which he 
found himself plunged at the news of the 
dethronement of his supporter, his disciple. 
Whatever his opinion on die subsequent murder 
it was not for him to be hampered by any 
scruples. Directly he learned of the proclamation 
of Catherine as Empress, he sent off a letter of 
warm congratulation and hopes and wishes for 
the future. Subsequent letters to St. Petersburg, 

90 



THE EMPRESS 

following rapidly one after another, dwelt upon 
reasons why the terms of the treaty should be 
adhered to; and the understanding between 
Russia and Prussia continue. Catherine, with 
Panin acquiescing, took a middle course. She 
withdrew from all active participation in the 
war. It was made clear to Maria Theresa that 
Austria in her struggle against Prussia could look 
for no help from Russia. But simultaneously the 
Russian troops which Peter had sent to join 
Frederick's forces were withdrawn. The decision 
was a reflection of a principle that Catherine, 
while still Grand-duchess, had laid down and 
inscribed in her diary. She had written then that 
Russia, that great country, needed peace; and 
further, that peace would serve Russia's turn and 
ensure her a balance of power better than could 
war, which was always ruinous. As future events 
would show, this was far from ruling out for 
Catherine the possibility that to go to war might 
be necessary and even desirable. At this moment 
she judged it to be neither. 

In the meantime England, regardless of Freder- 
ick's complaints that she was deserting him, was 
likewise withdrawing from the continental fighting 
in which she had neither been particularly inter- 
ested, nor particularly successful. She was about to 
negotiate with France the terms, finally embodied 
in the Treaty of Paris, which marked her triumph 
as a naval and colonial power. But to Frederick, 
whatever his annoyance, the withdrawal of the 

9 1 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

Russian and English troops counted for little in 
comparison with the fact that Maria Theresa was 
now facing him alone ; for France could do nothing 
for her. And to Maria Theresa came the realiza- 
tion that any further attempt to regain Silesia was 
useless. On 15 February, 1763, five days after the 
signing of the Treaty of Paris, a treaty was signed 
at the hunting lodge by St. Hubertusberg in Saxony, 
which left the geographical position as it was at 
the beginning of the war. Frederick kept Silesia. 
He did not gain Saxony, which he had passion- 
ately desired and for which he had been prepared 
to give up East Prussia. He had his way, however, 
in his refusal to pay a penny of compensation to 
Saxony for the wrong done to her in his ruthless 
invasion. He also refused to allow Russia to 
participate in the negotiations for the peace that 
was to conclude a war from which she had with- 
drawn. So much revenge he accorded himself. 

But the King of Prussia had no intention of 
quarrelling with the Empress of Russia. All his 
farther observations confirmed, and strengthened, 
the high opinion he had formed of Catherine's 
ability. And she, on her side, had not lacked 
intelligence concerning Frederick of Prussia. 
The two, the woman of thirty-six and the man 
of fifty-one, understood each other very well; 
and no less well did they understand how the 
$ims of both might be furthered by their 
cd -operation. During 1764 began the correspond- 
ency between the two monarchs, which continued 

92 



THE EMPRESS 

until the death of Frederick, and ultimately 
filled substantial volumes in the collections of 
letters in St. Petersburg and at Berlin. The pair 
discoursed to each other of many matters ; paid 
each other compliments, couched in the elegant 
artificial style of the century. Likewise both were 
realists; and, as such, were aware that sooner, 
rather than later, questions vital to the relation- 
ship between their respective countries must arise. 

Before this correspondence began, Catherine 
had been already absorbed in another. In 1762, 
Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire, the literary 
patriarch of Europe, was in his sixty-ninth year. 
For the past five years he had been living at Fer- 
ney, the estate on the French side of the French- 
Swiss frontier, four miles from Geneva, to which he 
had retired as a spot whence he could more safely 
carry on his fight against what he saw as the 
tyranny of church and state. He had long since 
taken an interest in Russia and was, indeed, just 
now completing his history of Peter the Great. 
This history had been undertaken at the request 
of Elizabeth, on the advice of Ivan Shuvalov, a 
nephew of Peter and Alexander. The latter, but 
especially Peter, had been, amid political activi- 
ties, enthusiastic for learning. Their nephew was 
even more so. 

Having thus given up his time to a study of 
Peter the Great, even while he had been observing 
what was going on in Russia, it was in the natural 
course of events that Voltaire's interest sl/ould 

93 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

have been roused by the account he received of 
Catherine. The time was ripe for him to add 
yet another crowned head to his other royal 
correspondents. The ground had been no less 
well prepared on the side of Catherine. Reading 
Voltaire during the years past, absorbing his 
teaching, he had already become to her the 
master, at whose feet she was prepared to sit. An 
instrument of liaison between the two was ready 
to hand. One of Catherine's secretaries, Picton, 
was a native of Geneva; and a disciple of this 
historian-philosopher who had taken up his abode 
on the shores of the lake. When all Europe had 
been buzzing with stories as to what had happened 
at Oranienbaum, in St. Petersburg and atRopsha, 
Picton had sent a long despatch to Ferney. Its 
contents had been designed to explain to Voltaire 
the nature of the intolerable position in which 
Catherine had found herself, forcing her to take 
action against her husband. Catherine must, in 
short, be vindicated in the eyes of Voltaire. And 
vindicated she had been. Within the next few 
months Empress and philosopher plunged into an 
exchange of letters which were to continue to pass 
to and fro between them until the end of Voltaire's 
life. Neither this correspondence nor that with 
Frederick the Great was unique. In a letter- 
writing age Catherine was a prolific letter- 
i^riter. And if her style did not place her in the 
ra&k of a Madame de S6vign6, the letters are an 
admijrable expression of what she observed and of 

94 



THE EMPRESS 

her ideas. Each section of her correspondence has 
its significance. That with Voltaire, added to that 
conducted with his fellow-philosophers the let- 
ters to Grimm are often said to be the best example 
of Catherine's thought and her epistolary style 
has been seen, especially in conjunction with her 
reading, as of particular importance. 

Catherine was a natural autocrat of that there 
was never any doubt and at the back of her 
autocracy, fortifying it, lay her interpretation of 
philosophic ideas and ideals. In this she was not 
unique. The age of reason, the age of rulers 
instructed by the philosophers, nourished the 
autocrat-ruler who was described as benevolent 
or enlightened. Such rulers, and among them 
Catherine was conspicuous, had no doubt but 
that their will must be supreme ; and they were 
the more autocrats, because of their conviction 
that this will was guided by the right principles. 
The natural corollary was the demand, conscious 
or unconscious, that others should recognize how 
wise, how beneficial, how intrinsically good, 
were the foundations of their rule, the decisions 
they took. Herein Catherine received ample 
support from such letters as those of Voltaire and 
Grimm. She had, moreover, attained the throne 
of a country, the theory and structure of whose 
government offered peculiar scope for the exercise 
of benevolent despotism. 

The position of the crown in Russia in relation 
to the nation at large assumed and provided 

c G. 4* 95, 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

for the wielding of absolute power by a ruler who 
was regarded as the head of a family. The title 
of Little Father, as applied to that ruler, had a 
real meaning. But the Little Father was like- 
wise, as Peter had emphasized in his adoption of 
the imperial title, the emperor-autocrat. The 
form that the government had assumed meant 
that the country was administered by a body of 
men responsible to the crown alone. 

Closest to the sovereign, since at least the days 
of Peter the Great, was a small shifting body of 
ministers of no recognized status or composition, 
and called into being solely by the will of the 
sovereign. In the course of her reign Catherine 
contemplated creating out of this body a perman- 
ent Council of State. But although steps were 
taken to that end, it was not fully accomplished 
in her time. As had been the practice of her 
predecessors, she also made considerable 
use of commissions summoned for particular 
purposes. 

The permanent and principal instrument of 
government was the senate, established by Peter 
the Great Its members had been from the first 
the nominees of the crown, and owed no responsi- 
bility elsewhere. Their original number had been 
nine, with a small secretariat. But even in the time 
of the founder, that number had been aug- 
mented. After his death there had been steady 
expansion of both senate and secretariat. With 
certain alterations, among which were a number 



THE EMPRESS 

made by Catherine, the senate continued to 
function until imperial Russia itself disappeared, 
controlling the administration, both central and 
provincial, as well as the judiciary. 

Up to the accession of Peter the Great the 
administrative business of the country had been 
carried on by a number of departments, origi- 
nating from many different sources. These 
departments had been reconstructed by Peter 
on the collegiate principle. Eight colleges were 
named at first, with an additional three later; 
each having as its head a small board or council ; 
and all designed to work one with another. 
That hope was disappointed. By the time that 
Catherine took up Peter's sceptre, the collegiate 
principle was very largely a thing of the past. 
Three of the so-called colleges, that of the army; 
of the navy; and of foreign affairs, were well on 
the way to become three independent ministries ; 
a process that was completed under Catherine. 

Lastly, for the purposes of local administration, 
Peter had divided Russia into eight provinces, 
each with its own governor and each again sub- 
divided. 

Peter had, as he thought, provided for the 
functioning of the various administrative bodies 
by the decrees; which exacted universal service. 
And, even when this conception was, in 1762, 
finally shattered, a very large number of the upper 
classes did, as a matter of course, remain in the 
civil administration, even as in the army and in 

97 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

the navy. Nor, as before, was any insuperable 
barrier imposed to the advancement of anyone, 
whatever his social status and at whatever level 
he had begun. A further characteristic was the 
number of foreigners to be found in the adminis- 
trative, the naval and the military services. These 
men came from all over Europe, not excluding 
the British Isles; often invited and always en- 
couraged by Peter and his successors. So coming, 
many of them remained and in a number of cases 
received, as the father of Nikita Panin had done, 
a Russian title. 

The machinery with which the government thus 
outlined worked, both at the centre and in the 
provincial districts, was, despite the efforts at 
simplification made by Peter the Great, slow, 
awkward and complex ; dependent upon customs 
rooted in the past, differing one from another 
according to where they were found ; and upon a 
mass of laws which was not inaccurately described 
by a contemporary ambassador as a perfect fchaos. 
Not infrequently the sovereign, in whom the legis- 
lative power alone rested, or a minister to whom 
that power was delegated, had issued a law which 
contradicted one of an earlier date without the 
latter being annulled. 

The more enlightened officials had long since 
seen the necessity for reducing the confusion to 
some sort of order. In this view Catherine com- 
pletely concurred. She saw, too, as others had 
seen, that the remedy should be the drawing up 

98 



THE EMPRESS 

of a new code. The idea that thus presented itself 
was peculiarly agreeable to her. 

The first step was to summon an assembly whose 
duty should be to consider what was required ; and, 
it was hoped, what might be done. Before that as- 
sembly was called Catherine determined to provide 
the members for their guidance with a set of rules 
which should embody the principles upon which, 
in her view, at least, laws should be founded. 

Upon this document, which was subsequently 
known, from the purpose for which it was intended, 
as the Instructions^ she worked for nearly two years. 
For her the exercise, linked up with her past 
reading and thought, must have been pleasurable ; 
all her references to the work convey as much. No 
less pleasurable must have been the discussions 
which she permitted and even encouraged to take 
place with those to whom she chose to communi- 
cate the results of her labours. The exchange of 
ideas, whether in writing or in speech, was a feature 
of the age ; and Catherine was not the least eager 
of its exponents. Nor were the discussions purely 
academic. Catherine accepted many emendations 
and alterations. Much of what she had first put 
down was, she wrote to D'Alembert, torn up or 
burnt. The whole, as it finally appeared, was, she 
told him, a compromise. That compromise was 
between Catherine's theories and the opinions of 
those who saw in the practical application of the 
theories the complete upheaval of the social 
system they knew. 

99 



CATHERINE TH GREAT 

The ideas which Catherine set down were, as she 
herself again said, derived from her past reading. 
When the document was made public, no student 
of political thought could fail to perceive that 
the greater part thereof was taken either from 
Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws, the book 
Catherine had so eagerly read in the days when 
her vigorous, active mind had found its outlet in 
reading; or from Beccaria's book entitled Crime 
and Punishment, which had appeared in 1764. 
Something had been added by Catherine herself. 
And there were modifications advised by others. 

The general line of thought was illustrated by 
the opening pronouncements : that the Christian 
law teaches people to do good one to another as 
much as possibly can be done ; that every honest 
man in the community will wish to see his 
country happy, glorious, safe* and tranquil; and 
himself to live under a law which protects, but 
does not oppress. In the sections dealing with 
that law it is laid down that only what is pre- 
judicial to either the community or the individual 
should be forbidden; that all should be equal in 
the sight of the law; that all must obey the law; 
but also that all must be free to do all that the 
law does not forbid. 

And so with crime and punishment. More 
consideration should be given to the prevention 
of crime than to the infliction of punishment. 
Careful distinction should be drawn between 
crimes of different natures, and differing in 

100 



THE EMPfcfi&S 

significance. Capital punishment should be 
resorted to as seldom as might be. Torture should 
be completely prohibited. 

In these and in such sections as those dealing 
with police and justice can be observed the 
influence of the humanitarian school of thought, 
the school whose ideal was the freedom of the 
individual within an ordered society; the school 
which accepted the view of Locke that law and 
freedom were necessary to one another, since the 
one could not exist without the other. It waa 
the school to which Catherine would have claimed, 
and in some respects would have been justified 
in claiming, that she gave her allegiance. Never- 
theless, in the document appeared two features 
which in reality vitiated all the principles thus 
set forth. 

The first of these was the doctrine of the abso- 
lutism of the crown. So far from retreating from 
this doctrine, Catherine emphasized it. Un- 
equivocally it was stated that the sovereign is 
supreme; is the sole source of all civil and 
political power ; is subject to no check. True, the 
sovereign is there tp serve the people. But that 
service is seen to be solely dependent on his or 
her will to good. Diderot, reading the document, 
summed up the position ; the Empress of Russia, 
he wrote, is certainly a despot, since, whatever 
the true end of her government, it makes all 
liberty and property depend on one person. 

For the other contradictory feature Catherine 

101 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

was not herself entirely responsible. It lay in the 
treatment of serfdom. On the evidence available, 
there is something to be said for believing that 
Catherine was quite sincere in the views which, 
in the early years, she expressed on the subject. 
Her study of philosophy had taught her that 
serfdom was an affront to the individual. Her 
own acumen helped her to see it also as a festering 
sore, which sooner or later would poison the 
whole community. A reflection of these views, 
by no means in an extreme form, appeared in her 
original draft, and about the time when that 
draft was being drawn up she founded a society 
known as the Imperial Free Economic Society, 
one of whose objects was to be discussion of the 
problem of the peasant. But it was just here 
that Catherine had to capitulate. Even an 
absolute sovereign, and Catherine was no ex- 
ception, rather the contrary, cannot entirely 
disregard the views of those upon whom he or 
she must rely to keep him or her in power ; those 
who are necessary to maintain what in the 
Instructions was termed the safety of the institution 
of monarchy. In the opinion of many of those 
whom Catherine consulted, her approach to the 
alleviation, if not the abolition of serfdom, struck 
at the very foundations of society; as at the eco- 
nomic welfare of the country. They protested. As 
a result, in their final form, the Instructions com- 
mitted themselves only to the general statements 
that serfdom should exist only in the interests of 

102 



THE EMPRESS 

the state; that it ought to be a rare condition; 
that it would, however, be extremely dangerous 
to free all serfs at once. The Free Economic 
Society itself, having offered a prize for an essay 
on the condition of the peasant, forbade the 
publication of that of the winner, since he had 
advocated peasant proprietors. 

The Instructions were drawn up for a specific 
purpose in the Russian language for Russia. 
But cognizance of them was taken outside Russia; 
translations were made, and the interest excited 
was considerable. In ministerial circles in Eng- 
land, according to the correspondence with the 
embassy in St. Petersburg, there was something 
of a tendency to treat the whole as an example 
of rhetorical theory which would not have, and, 
according to some, was not intended to have, 
any practical results. Some hasty judgment was 
based on a lack of comprehension that what 
Catherine had in mind bore no relation to the 
English parliamentary system, and had but little 
indeed in common with the English constitution 
as a whole. In France the document, or rather 
what might come of it, was viewed much more 
seriously. So dangerous did the authorities find 
the liberal views expressed therein that publica- 
tion was strictly forbidden. But Catherine had 
her full meed of praise from others. Among 
them, Frederick of Prussia, to whom she had 
sent a translation in German made especially for 
him, overwhelmed her with flattery, and made 

103 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

her a member of the Berlin Academy. With 
Voltaire there had been correspondence during 
the making of the Instructions. It was not until 
the December of 1768 that Catherine was able 
to despatch to Ferney a complete version in 
French, written, not printed, since, as she 
explained, there had been no time to get this done. 
She received a more than favourable verdict. 
Lycurgus and Solon, wrote the philosopher, 
might have put their name to the work; they 
could not have composed it. 

The date appended to the Instructions was 
30 July (10 August, N.S.), 1767. This was the 
day for the first meeting of the assembly for 
whose benefit they had been prepared. 

That assembly consisted, according to one set 
of official figures, of five hundred and sixty-four 
members; and those members were drawn from 
a very wide field. It was, in fact, intended that 
they should represent all the classes who made 
up the people of Russia; and to a very large 
extent they did so. The total number was made 
up of two hundred and eight representatives of 
the towns; one hundred and sixty-one of the 
nobility ; and seventy-four of the peasants, with 
twenty-eight of government officials. The re- 
maining eighty-eight were drawn from the 
Cossack communities, and from those outlying 
districts referred to as foreign, since their 
inhabitants were not, strictly speaking, racially 
Russian. Only the clergy, who had their own 

104 



THE EMPRESS 

synod, with which Peter the Great had replaced 
their ancient patriarchate, had, as a body, no 
representative. A number, however, were present 
in the assembly in various capacities. In the 
gathering as a whole, the figure given for the 
official delegates may well have been doubled 
by the presence of other persons of all ranks in 
a variety of capacities. 

All these members were in theory to have 
been chosen by the communities whom they 
were to represent; and in practice this had been 
done to a certain extent. It was probably 
inevitable that in many cases those who had to 
choose were bewildered as to what was this new 
thing that was required of them. On the whole, 
opinion saw in the gathering a fairly accurate 
cross-section of the Russian people. 

The place of assembly was the Kremlin ; and 
there the members continued to meet until the 
beginning of the next year, when they moved to 
St. Petersburg. The president was the Marshal 
Bibikov, a prominent soldier and statesman. 
He had been nominated by Catherine; and she 
herself was almost continuously in Moscow 
during the months when the Assembly was 
sitting there. Gregori Orlov, who had been one 
of those to whom the early drafts of the 
Instructions had been shown, and who had 
approved them, was one of the elected members, 
and appears to have played a prominent part 
throughout. Of those closest to Catherine, he 

105 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

probably held the most Slavophil opinions, and 
it seems certain that he was also one of the more 
enlightened of the nobility in his desire for an 
improvement in the conditions of serfdom, and 
possibly even for its abolition. 

The discussions of the Assembly were based 
on the mandates, or reports which each group 
had been required to bring with them. It was 
intended that these reports should set forth the 
needs of each particular class represented ; and, 
as such, they afforded a valuable, if not com- 
prehensive, picture of social conditions. In that 
picture two subjects were in the foreground. Of 
these the one, as already foreshadowed in the 
discussions on the 1 preliminary draft, was pre- 
cisely the key question of serfdom. In the 
Assembly the fundamental cleavage of opinion 
was apparent. There appeared to be no bridge 
which could span the gulf between those who 
said that serfdom must continue, some out of 
self-interest pure and simple, but some because 
they held it to be absolutely necessary in the 
interests of agriculture and of the country at 
large; and the others, those who represented the 
peasants, together with the more enlightened and 
humanitarian members, who spoke of the evils 
of serfdom and the human misery engendered by 
the condition. 

The second subject which forced its way to 
the front was that of the relation between the 
central and local administration. Much of the 

1 06 



THE EMPRESS 

discussion was devoted to the conflicting claims 
of the two authorities, with no definite conclusion 
reached. Nevertheless, it was in the field of 
provincial government that the most serious, if 
not the only serious attempt at reorganization 
was to be made. By a series of edicts, including 
further and extensive divisions of the country as 
begun by Peter ; new appointments of governors 
and other officials ; and the establishment of new 
courts, including courts of justice, something was 
accomplished in the way of systematizing what 
had hitherto, in spite of Peter the Great, 
remained inchoate and largely inefficient. Yet 
the success was only partial ; and the new order 
placed ultimately more and more power in the 
hands of the landowners, on whom the crown 
had to depend for its working. 

Another debate in the Assembly revealed a 
further gulf between two sections of society. 
Long since, Peter the Great had seen the 
importance for Russia of trade, both at home 
and abroad, and hence the importance of the 
merchant class. Catherine once more followed 
his lead. One of the not least interesting sections 
of her Instructions had dealt with the question of 
the merchants. When, however, the latter 
presented their report to the Assembly, what 
ensued was very largely a wrangle between them 
and the landowners. The merchants charged the 
latter with selfish consideration for their own 
interests alone; whereby they abducted or 

107 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

persuaded labour away from the towns, and ate 
up the resources of the state. To that the land- 
owners retorted that it was the merchants who 
lived a purely self-centred existence, in that they 
pursued trade for their own benefit, rather than 
for the benefit of the state, adding that they had 
certainly never fulfilled the hopes of Peter the 
Great. So again the arguments, as set forth, 
brought no concrete result. 

Save only for the partial and, to some extent, 
dubious reforms in provincial administration, the 
same was true of the Assembly as a whole. No 
new code, nor even an approach to a new code, 
emerged from its labours. Even if the problem 
of the government of Russia had not been so 
vast a one, like the country itself, there had been 
no real preparation for an expedient that held 
so much that was so new and so strange. The 
true importance of the Assembly derived from 
the fact that it was ever called at all; and even 
more from the drawing up and the presentation 
of the mandates, although some of these had not 
been read when the meeting, after some eighteen 
months, broke up, and the members returned to 
their homes. 



108 



Chapter Five 

Russia and Poland 

closing of the commission which it had 
been hoped would have laid the foundations 
for a new legislative code for Russia coincided 
with the intensification of another phase in 
Catherine's career as a rider Catherine was of 
those of whom it may be said that to wear a 
crown was to have a career. As she said of her- 
self, her metier was to govern. The vision that it 
might be her function to reform the government 
of Russia never completely faded. But it grew 
dim and was relegated to the background as 
other projects claimed her attention, and, of 
these, that to which she had now turned was to 
absorb the greater part of her energies to the 
end of her life. It was that of the frontiers of 
Russia ; thought of in terms in which the aim of 
security on the one hand was closely intertwined 
with that of expansion on the other. Her energy, 
her political acumen, her grandiose imagination, 
carried her forward on a path already in part 
trodden out by those who had gone before her. 

The Mongol invasions of the thirteenth century 
had left only a core of Muscovite land, surround- 
ing the city of Moscow, whose princes made 

109 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

their city the capital, as Kiev had been the 
capital of the earlier Russia. 

From the fifteenth century onwards had come 
the slow pushing out from this core, here a thick 
wedge and there a narrow tongue, "to the north 
an3 to the south, to the east and to the west. 
And each of these forward movements, while it 
strengthened the country that was to be the new 
great Russia, had brought its own peculiar 
problems. Each movement, too, had its own 
characteristics. That to the west in particular 
had differed markedly in one respect from all 
the others. Elsewhere the thrust had been in 
the main directed against nomad peoples beyond 
whom, to the east and to the south, lay another 
continent, another civilization, Asia and her 
peoples. But the frontier line of the west, from 
the Baltic almost to the Black Sea, where the 
nomadic began again, was that of organized 
states. 

There, with their Baltic coastline were Livonia 
and Esthonia; and, beyond them, the Duchy of 
Courland, also with its long Baltic shore. Beyond 
the Duchy again, with more Baltic coastline, a 
coastline which was broken up by the Branden- 
burg possession, known as East Prussia, was the 
kingdom of Poland ; stretching southward to the 
river Dniester and the Carpathians. And, there, 
southwards once more, lay the Balkan peninsula, 
the territory of the Turks in Europe. 

Already, before Catherine's day, there had 

no 



RUSSIA AND POLAND 

been an advance along the Baltic shore. Even 
before Peter the Great had opened his window to 
die west, the rulers of sixteenth-century Muscovy 
had perceived the need, if they were to carry on 
a successful trade, of free access to that sea. 
True, after Richard Chancellor had made his 
memorable voyage, the White Sea route, with 
its port at Archangel, had been developed. But 
it was a dangerous, difficult and long route in 
comparison with that by way of the Baltic, and 
was, too, ice-bound for a much longer period of 
the year. Hence, the constant attempts to push 
through to the Baltic coast, until Peter, having 
overcome Sweden with her claims to supremacy 
in that sea, and having forced his way ttf 
those shores, gained by treaty Livonia and 
Esthonia, with their harbours of Revel and Riga. 
There remained the Duchy of Courland. That 
country had long owed allegiance to Poland. It 
continued to do so. But with the absorption of 
its two neighbours, the Duchy itself became ever 
more subject to Russian influence. 

As part of his western policy, Peter had 
encouraged the immigration of Germans into all 
three of the Baltic countries. Known as Baltic 
Germans, many of these settlers began to play 
an important part in the countries of their 
adoption; and, in the days of the Empress Anne, 
one of them, Biron, became ruler of the Duchy 
of Courland. He proved an unpopular ruler, and 
was intimately removed and sent to Siberia. 

in 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

Then, in 1758, with Elizabeth on the throne of 
Russia, four years from the end of her reign, a 
request reached the Russian court. The King 
of Poland at the time was Augustus III, who was 
also Elector of Saxony. Augustus now requested 
the Empress Elizabeth of Russia to sanction the 
succession of his son, Charles, to the Dukedom of 
Courland. Elizabeth had seen no objection and 
bad consented. Among many who disagreed 
with her had been the Grand-duchess Catherine. 
But her opinion carried no weight with the 
Empress. The young man was installed as Duke of 
Courland. 

So matters had stood when Catherine became 
Empress. Then, in 1763, she had acted. Deter- 
mined that this royal house of Saxony in Poland 
should not obtain hereditary rights in Courland, 
through the person of the young man who was 
now duke, she proceeded to get him out. Her 
appeal was to the Polish Diet, as usual at logger- 
heads with their elected king. To the Diet, she 
pointed out that their rights were threatened by 
their monarch, a foreigner, having obtained an 
hereditary dukedom for his son. Those rights, 
she declared, she was ready to defend. She had 
gone on to reinforce these arguments by herself 
providing a ruler for Courland. Biron was 
recalled from Siberia and -ordered to take over 
the Duchy, a scheme which was supported by 
the sending thither of Russian troops. In April 
I 76s, Charles of Saxony left Courland. The 

112 



RUSSIA AND POLAND 

incident, for this in relation to future events it 
was, ended thus in triumph for Catherine. The 
whole occurrence was the logical outcome of 
the frontier policy of Peter the Great. It also 
proved to be the logical beginning of that of 
Catherine. She turned, the same year, to Poland 
itself; and with Poland the Grand-duchy of 
Lithuania, united to the former country in a 
kind of federal union. The history of this 
Duchy contained the seeds of much of the 
trouble. 

When a century after their occupation of the 
greater part of the country that was afterwards 
to be United Russia, the power of the Mongols 
had begun to weaken, other invading forces 
under a series of remarkable leaders had appeared 
on the Dnieper and in the district between that 
river and the Dniester. They had come from 
Lithuania, the narrow strip of country by the 
Baltic, a country whose people in the fourteenth 
century were still heathen. They had come, they 
had conquered, they had fought the Mongols, 
they had fought the Russians; they had taken 
Kiev and had created the great fortress town of 
Brest-Litovsk. Twenty years and more before 
the fourteenth century had run out, Lithuanian 
rule had extended from the Baltic to the Black 
Sea; and in 1386 had come the event of signifi- 
cance, even of portent, for the future. In that 
year, Jagellon, Duke of Lithuania, had married 
Hedwig, heiress to the Polish throne; and, 

"3 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

perhaps as the price of that marriage, he and his 
people had accepted Christianity, and were 
baptized in the Roman communion. Henceforth 
Poland and Lithuania, together forming a great 
kingdom to the west of Russia, had been united, 
first by a dynasty in common, and after 1569 in 
a kind of federal union. Had matters gone 
otherwise, had Lithuania looked east and not 
west, had her ruler accepted the Orthodox form 
of Christianity instead of the Roman ; had there 
come about, as well might have been the case, 
union not with Poland, but with Russia, the 
course of history might have run differently. 

Always Russia had resented the creation of 
this kingdom of Lithuania-Poland. There was 
the offence to the sense of history. To whatever 
power and dignity first Moscow, and then St. 
Petersburg had risen, Kiev had been the mother 
city of Russia, the soil from which Russia had 
sprung. Next, the kingdom, with its western 
associations, was seen as a political menace to 
Russia. Lastly, there were the questions of race 
and religion. There continued in Lithuania 
many Russians, in the main those known as 
White Russians, one of the many races of which 
Russia was ethnologically made up. They were, 
and remained, distinct from the Lithuanians, 
who had swept in from the north. Here, too, was 
a dividing line in religion. The Russian dwellers 
in Lithuania were either adherents of the Orthodox 
Church, or had become Uniats, members of the 

114 



RUSSIA AND POLAND 

church which at the end of the sixteenth century 
had evolved a sort of halfway house between 
the Orthodox and the Roman communions. 

On every ground seeds of trouble had thus, 
from the first, existed as between Russia and 
Lithuania-Poland. They had come to fruition. 

The federal union of 1569 had been the work 
f of a congress held at Lublin. This congress had 
done two other things. It had made the crown of 
Poland elective. It had given Poland increased 
authority over Kiev and the Dniester lands. It 
marked the climax of Poland's great period under 
the house of Jagellon. It was also a pointer to the 
beginning of the end. 

During the following century, Poland, under 
elected kings the house of Jagellon became 
extinct had suffered pressure on all sides, and in 
spite of some brilliant interludes had grown ever 
weaker. Her geographical alignment, the spread- 
ing plains with no effective barriers between her 
and her neighbours, rendered her vulnerable. 
Gradually Russia had begun to advance into 
Lithuania, until in 1667 the rich prize of Kiev 
with the district known as Little Russia had been 
ceded by truce to Russia, a truce confirmed 
twenty-two years later. 

There had followed more or less peace, with 
a frontier more or less stable, until, in 1763, 
Catherine had begun a series of new moves. 

In spite of the recovery by Russia of a great part 
of Lithuania, that which remained of the kingdom 

"5 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

of Lithuania-Poland was still looked on by Russia 
as a hindrance, if not a danger, to the growth of 
the Russian state. Poland, on its side, as repre- 
sented by its aristocracy, its landed gentry and its 
church, thought in terms of the defence of western 
culture and of Catholicism against the approach 
of another civilisation; another church. Since 
the magnates, acting with the church, controlled , 
both the legislature and the executive later one 
single member of the Diet could veto any reform 
they, in actuality if not in theory, controlled the 
crown also. As for the peasants, they, early in the 
seventeenth century, had been disfranchised and 
reduced to serfdom. 

In making the crown elective the congress of 
Lublin had created a system which held many 
threatening features, not the least of which was 
that any foreign candidate, whether he were 
a crowned head or no, might be elected. Thus 
foreign intervention, on the demise of the crown, 
was not only possible but positively invited. And 
foreign candidates had from the first lost no time 
in making their appearance. When, in 1696, 
the Elector of Saxony had been elected as 
Augustus II, it had been from among eighteen 
candidates of many nationalities, each backed 
by foreign powers ; and by parties within Poland 
itself. An endeavour by Polish patriots to elect 
a Pole as his successor on his death in 1733 had 
been frustrated by Austria and Russia. He had 
been succeeded after what can only be described 

116 



RUSSIA AND POLAND 

as a bitterly fought election, by his son, who 
ruled as Augustus III. 

The thirty years* reign of this monarch had been 
marked by the Courland incident. But on the 
whole, he had shown himself mild and easy- 
going, disinclined for any kind - of conflict. 
His death, in the autumn of 1763, was, as it 
proved, to be more important than had been 
his life. Catherine, to the east of Poland, Frederick 
to the west, had laid their plans. Each of the two 
saw those plans as the more urgent because the 
death of the Polish king coincided with the emer- 
gence in Poland of a strong national movement. 

Amid all the chances and changes which had 
befallen the crown and the country, Poland had 
always retained a fundamental national feeling. 
No less had she thrown up at intervals men of 
outstanding character and ability. It had long 
been her tragedy and was now, that such leaders 
remained brilliant individuals, unable to weld 
together a state divided among itself, even 
in the periods when ideas of reform came to 
the fore. 

A strong party among the magnates was at the 
moment acutely aware of the dangers to which 
the system of election to the crown exposed the 
country. They brought forward a plan to abolish 
the elective kingship and to replace it by an 
hereditary dynasty. Under this scheme Charles, 
son of the late king, was to succeed his father, and, 
as that father had planned long since, was to 

117 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

become Duke of Coin-land also ; driving out Biron 
and the Russians. 

There was to be likewise a reform of the 
legislature and executive. 

The plans were good, even admirable, as far as 
they went. Only too soon they were seen to have 
their foundations on sand. On the one hand there 
was soon evident what appeared to be fundamental 
differences of opinion amounting to antagonism 
towards each other among the various groups 
within the country itself. At the same time, beyond 
the frontiers, neither Catherine nor Frederick had 
any intention of permitting the development of a 
strong, independent Poland. The correspond- 
ence between the two sovereigns, no less than 
the political testament drawn up by Frederick, 
which appeared after his death, leaves little 
doubt what was in the mind of each. 

Catherine, at all events, at first appears to 
have visualized a Poland which should retain 
its entity, as it was after the incorporation, a 
century earlier, of the main part of Lithuania- 
Poland which historically and racially could be 
claimed as Russian. But it was to be a Poland 
subject to the guidance and influence of Russia ; 
in short, dominated by that country. Here 
Catherine parted company with Nikita Panin. 

That minister's policy was influenced by his 
desire to create a system of northern alliances and 
so strengthen the position of Russia in the Baltic. 
It was an idea that to some extent derived from 

118 



RUSSIA AND POLAND 

his earlier diplomatic connection with Denmark; 
and with Sweden; with the latter country in 
particular. His scheme would have included pro- 
posed subsidies for Sweden at least. Intent upon 
this plan he personally would not have objected 
to a strong, independent and reformed Poland, 
who would be willing to act in alliance with 
Russia. 

The attitude of Frederick was, on the other 
hand, from the first, predatory. He desired to 
annex the western part of Poland in order to 
round off his kingdom, even as he had desired 
Silesia which he had gained, and Saxony which 
he had not. 

Under these circumstances, both sovereigns 
were well aware how delicate was the situation 
between them, how easily it might become 
critical. But two astute minds understood each 
other very well. This was to be no occasion for 
war, nor even for an acute diplomatic crisis. 
Presently affairs were put into train. 

At first sight, the early moves of the political 
game, with Poland as the pawn, appeared to give 
the advantage to Catherine. She had a candidate 
for the vacant throne in Stanislas Poniatowski, 
the young Polish nobleman who nine years 
before had come to St. Petersburg in the train 
of Sir Charles Hanbury- Williams ; and had 
replaced Sergei Saltikov as Catherine's lover. 
He, in his turn, had had to give place to Gregori 
Orlov. But he had never been lost sight of and 

C.G. s 119 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

now Catherine had a part ready for him to play. 
Here, she pointed out to Frederick, was a suit- 
able king for Poland. And Frederick, biding his 
time, acquiesced. In April 1764, six months 
after the death of Augustus, a compact was 
signed between Catherine and Frederick whereby 
the two agreed to bring pressure to bear on the 
Polish Diet in favour of Stanislas. 

In many respects the young man was not an 
unacceptable candidate. His father's family, if 
not particularly distinguished, could claim long 
descent and some royal connections. More import- 
ant, his mother had been a Czartoryski, a member 
of the family which, by tradition strongly inclined 
to Russia in their Sympathies, played a powerful 
part in Polish politics. In his person, too, the 
young man had much to recommend him. To the 
good looks and the charm which, those years since 
in St. Petersburg, the Grand-duchess had been 
quick to perceive, were added a vivid intelligence 
and an appreciation of art and literature. He had 
been a conspicuous figure on a prolonged visit to 
England, where he had taken much interest in the 
English political system. He was equally well 
known in Paris. But amid all his graces those who 
knew him were well aware of a fatal defect. He 
lacked strength of character and purpose. 

On 7 September according to the western 
dating 1764, Stanislas was formally elected 
King of Poland. Catherine wrote a self-con- 
gratulatory letter to Panin, in which she referred 

1 20 



RUSSIA AND POLAND 

to the king which they had made. She might 
have added, what she knew perfectly well, that 
this was the king whom she would be able to 
direct; and, no less might she have pointed out 
that the king had been made without the inter- 
ference that might, under different conditions, 
have been expected. In particular Austria and 
France had both been observing Catherine and 
Frederick with suspicion. But, exhausted by the 
Seven Years War, neither was ready to oppose 
the election, nor to take any action whatsoever. 

As had so often been the case the discord pre- 
vailing among the Polish magnates and the landed 
gentry had weakened their power to act effect- 
ively. That weakness had given Catherine, and 
Frederick acting with her, the opportunity to put 
in their puppet king, admirably suited for the part 
he was required to play. In Catherine's view this 
part would be played by the acceptance of direc- 
tion from St. Petersburg. What was in Frederick's 
mind was apparent later. 

The ground was prepared for direction from 
St. Petersburg by the presence in Warsaw, as 
Russian representative, of Prince Anakita Rapnin, 
nephew to Nikita Panin. The latter had as 
collaborators that section of Polish officials who 
were prepared to act with Russia. As backing he 
and they had Russian gold and Russian troops. 
The king, now known as Stanislas Augustus, for 
one, sorely needed that Russian gold, since he was 
always in debt. His supporters knew, even if he 

121 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

did not, that at any moment Russian troops might 
be necessary if he were to remain on the throne. 

But the subordination to Russia was not really 
complete. Almost immediately disaffection, not 
confined to any one group, began to-raise its head. 
It was to be found among those more enlightened 
nobles and magnates who had been planning 
reforms. There were also those who, whether 
belonging to the former group or not, were expon- 
ents of a passionate nationalism which bitterly 
resented all direction from Russia; lastly, the 
Church of Rome had to be reckoned with. 

That church had the allegiance of the major- 
ity of the population of Poland. There remained, 
in what was left of Lithuania and elsewhere, a 
certain number of communities whose members 
professed the Orthodox faith, while in the west 
Lutheranism was a strong influence. Originally 
both Orthodox and Lutheran congregations had 
enjoyed a considerable measure of freedom of 
worship. As, however, the movement of the 
counter-reformation grew in strength so did the 
zeal and power of the Church of Rome within 
Poland prove too much for the dissenting groups. 
The toleration extended to them was gradually 
whittled down until by the time Stanislas ascended 
the throne it might be said to have completely 
disappeared ; and something very like persecution 
to have begun. 

From the point of view of Rome the situation 
justified drastic measures. Ecclesiastical authority 

122 



RUSSIA AND POLAND 

saw itself threatened everywhere by the teaching 
and influence of the encyclopaedists and philoso- 
phers. Both Frederick and Catherine, one on 
either side of Poland, were disciples of Voltaire. 
They were more than this. The one was the head 
of a Lutheran state. The other ruled a country of 
huge territories and teeming population whose 
church was not of the West, but of the East. Rome 
saw clearly the danger to its church and to 
Poland. 

The keynote of Catherine's policy had been 
sounded as early as October, 1762, when, within 
a month of her coronation, she had impressed on 
the Russian envoy in Warsaw the necessity for the 
protection of all Poles professing the Orthodox 
faith. With the accession of her puppet king she 
was prepared to push matters further. 

The advent of Stanislas had encouraged the 
Orthodox and Lutheran communities, commonly 
known as Dissendents, who had been working for 
the renewal of the right to worship, without inter- 
ference, in their own buildings. But the repre- 
sentatives of the Roman communion, ecclesias- 
tical and lay alike, stood firm. The hope of the 
Dissendents rested upon the possibility of support 
from without, in particular from Russia. 

That Catherine would be ready to follow up the 
instructions sent to the Russian envoy in 1762 was 
a foregone conclusion. Her turn of mind, nour- 
ished on her reading, informed her, as she revealed 
in her comments on ecclesiastical ceremonies and 

123 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

customs, that there was much in all churches that 
was unacceptable to the philosophic spirit. The 
same line of thought gave her a genuine feeling 
for toleration, provided that did not threaten the 
political structure she believed to be beneficent 
for those over whom she had been called to rule. 
But, politically, first and foremost she had identi- 
fied herself with the Orthodox Church into which 
she had been received as a girl of fifteen, even as 
she had identified herself with Russia. Frederick, 
who knew his Catherine, remarked of her that she 
had really no religion, but that she simulated 
devotion. The remark was very true. Catherine 
the realist saw clearly the importance of the part 
played by the Church in Russia, and no less 
clearly, the part it must play in the expansion of 
Russian influence. 

Yet it was Frederick rather than Catherine who, 
in the case of Poland, was the first to bring matters 
to a head. That monarch was impatient for any 
development which would give him an oppor- 
tunity to secure the lands upon which his gaze 
was fixed. Insistence upon the rights of the 
Lutherans within Poland rights in which he 
probably quite genuinely believed, but the belief 
was cover for much else was to him an obvious 
course of action. 

Backed then both by Prussia and by Russia the 
Dissendents stated their case and put forward their 
demands. Stanislas Augustus, as ever in need of 
Russian gold and of Russian support in general, 

124 



RUSSIA AND POLAND 

hesitated. The Diet, overwhelmingly Catholic, 
showed no such hesitation. Once more they stated 
there was to be no toleration. And the threat of 
conflict loomed ever more menacing. In 1767 the 
meeting of an extraordinary Diet called to consider 
the situation was marked by the highly ihflamma- 
tory speeches of speakers who included among 
them Polish ecclesiastics as well as the Papal 
Nuncio. Catherine moved. Three of the most 
aggressive speakers, two of them bishops, were 
escorted to Russia. The following year another 
Diet was called and bullied by Rapnin into promis- 
ing the Dissendents not only freedom of belief and 
worship, but of equal rights in every respect with 
members of the Church of Rome. The inevitable 
repercussions followed. In the years which had 
elapsed since the election of Stanislas Augustus 
the Catholic national and anti-Russian party had 
increased its membership and strengthened its 
influence. Nor had they, in their turn, been with- 
out encouragement from outside, particularly from 
France and Austria ; on grounds of religion ; and 
on grounds of politics since the rulers of both 
countries desired nothing more earnestly than to 
curb the growing and alarming power of both 
Russia and Prussia. For four years the opposi- 
tion had smouldered. Now, in the spring of 
1768, the conflagration burst forth. 

The movement among the opposition party had 
largely taken the form of groups or confederations. 
The most formidable of these became known as 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

the Confederation of Bar. The name derived from 
a meeting of representatives of the Catholic 
national party which had taken place at the little 
town of Bar or Barrow, near the Turkish frontier, 
between February and April. At that meeting 
they had declared the deposition of Stanislas 
Augustus ; and had announced the formation of a 
national federation for which they invited national 
support. Within a few weeks civil war broke out. 
On the one side was the Confederation of Bar, 
with all those who had rallied to their cause ; on 
the other were the intermingled groups, repre- 
senting those who were prepared to stand by the 
king, as well as the morfc extreme who were ready 
to go to any length in support of Russia. This 
latter side had the advantage of support from a 
Russian force. That force shortly had, as its 
second-in-command, a soldier who was to go down 
in Russian history as one of their outstanding 
military leaders. 

Alexander Suvorov had been destined for a 
civil career, mainly because his father had 
believed that his health was too poor to withstand 
the rigours of a soldier's life, but the boy, from his 
earliest days, had showed, to the surprise of his 
family, something which amounted to a passion 
for military history and military technique. The 
father had to consent to his entering the army. 
Under the regulations drawn up in the days of 
Peter the Great, he was forced to begin as a 
private, as he was over the age when it was per- 

126 



RUSSIA AND POLAND 

missible to join as an officer. It was more than six 
years later, in 1754, that he attained that rank. 
Serving as an officer, on the Prussian front, during 
the Seven Years War, he had added to the 
experience already gained by study and in prac- 
tice as private and non-commissioned officer. 
When Russia had withdrawn from the war in 1762 
he had been set to work at training. Now, in 
1768, he reappeared in the field, to act against 
the Polish troops as brigadier and second-in- 
command. 

Suvorov had the disadvantage of comparatively 
small forces against much more numerous forces 
of the confederation. He also had to act in what 
was to him a strange country, whereas it was 
familiar ground to his opponents. But in the fight- 
ing of the following two years, fighting that was 
in the nature of skirmishes rather than of pitched 
battles, he showed his quality as a commander, 
breaking up and smashing the groups in which the 
Poles were combating, whenever opportunity 
offered. It was, however, evident that the struggle 
would be a prolonged one. Before the end came 
the story of Poland was to become intermingled 
with, and in the end, disastrously affected by, 
that of her southern neighbour, Turkey. 



127 



Chapter Six 

Russia and Turkey 

AS the course of events in Poland had unfolded 
both France and Austria had been watching 
the progress of Catherine with no less alarm than 
they had been watching that of Frederick. They 
had had to acquiesce in the election of Catherine's 
candidate to the Polish throne. Now, five years 
later, both were somewhat recovered from their 
war exhaustion ; and France, in particular, under 
the guidance of her able Foreign Minister, 
Choiseul, thought the time had come to endeavour 
to check the westward advance of Russia. A 
method founded on tradition lay to hand. 

An important factor in French foreign policy 
had long been support of Turkey in Europe, a 
weapon to be used against other powers when, and 
if, necessary. In the past that weapon had been 
employed mainly against Austria. Choiseul was 
now persuaded that it could be turned against 
Russia. His diplomatic activities to that end were 
facilitated by the uneasiness amounting to alarm 
with which the Sultan, Mustapha HI, a man of 
warlike disposition, and his advisers, had likewise 
been watching the advance of Russia. Political 
considerations loomed large, but the appeal for 

128 



RUSSIA AND TURKEY 

opposition to Russia was founded on something 
more. It was an appeal to Islam against the 
Orthodox Church ; bringing once more to the fore 
ancient enmities and ancient passions. 

Three events, far back in the past, were links 
in a chain which, in the eighteenth century, was 
leading to other events of much import. 

Nearly 800 years earlier, in 988, Vladimir, 
Prince of Kiev, had accepted Christianity. The 
church into which he and his people had been 
baptized had been the Greek, otherwise the 
Orthodox Church. Nearly five centuries later 
again, the tide of Ottoman invaders of Europe, 
who had succeeded the Mongol invaders, had 
swept up to the gates of Constantinople itself. 
The city had fallen; the last emperor had died 
fighting on the walls; St. Sofia had been trans- 
formed into a Moslem mosque. Another four- 
teen years had passed. There had come a 
marriage. The emperor had left, as his heiress, 
his niece Zoe Paleologus. After the catastrophe 
the girl had become a ward of the Pope. In 
1472, that Pope's successor, Sixtus IV, had 
offered her hand to Ivan the Great believing 
that so might the Orthodox Church be reconciled 
to Rome; and the old schism closed. The result 
was exactly the contrary. On her marriage Zoe 
had been received into the Orthodox Church 
and had been re-baptized Sophia. Her husband 
had adopted the double-headed eagle of Byzan- 
tium as the royal crest and had become in his 

129 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

own eyes successor of the line of Paleologus, 
the natural champion of the church for which 
that line stood. 

Apart from the question of the church, the 
capital of the Greek emperors, with all its splen- 
dour and colour, with its great tradition of art, 
had always been a magnet for the eager eyes of 
the princes of Kiev and after them those of the 
princes of Moscow. It was an attraction backed 
up by the material considerations of the trade, 
which, ever and anon interrupted by merciless 
warfare, had passed between Kiev and Constan- 
tinople; and over and beyond this, it was the 
latter city, which guarded the straits through 
which Russian ships must pass if they were to 
reach the Mediterranean and the world beyond. 

At the same time the path of the Turks into 
Europe as they had followed their Mongol prede- 
cessors had created another and more immediate 
vital problem for Russia. That path had lain 
along the shores of the Sea of Azov and of the 
Black Sea. Into those seas three of the great rivers 
of Russia emptied themselves : there lay the penin- 
sula of the Crimea, joined to the mainland by its 
narrow isthmus called the Perekop; and at the 
western end the opening known as the Bosphorus 
on which stood Constantinople. North and south 
of the Black Sea and in the Crimea the Turks 
had established themselves, with the earlier 
Mongol settlers as their vassals. 

The story of the Turks on the Black Sea had 

130 



RUSSIA AND TURKEY 

followed that of the Turks elsewhere in Europe. 
From the time of Peter the Great onwards Russia 
had sought to push back the alien occupants of 
the land, even as the more westerly powers had 
sought to press them back to the countries 
into which they had penetrated beyond 
Constantinople. 

By 1768 progress had been made; but much 
remained to be accomplished. The particular aim 
of the successive rulers of Russia had been to reach 
the two seas, but despite some successes, and 
although the Sea of Azov had been reached and 
the river Don, emptying itself into that sea, had 
been freed or nearly so from Turkish rule, that 
rule, in the year when the struggle was about to 
recommence, was still supreme all around the 
Black Sea, and in its peninsula. And, since the 
Turks controlled the northern shore, they con- 
trolled likewise the lower reaches and the mouths 
of the three rivers, the Dnieper, the Bug, and the 
Dniester, which from east to west found their way 
to the Black Sea. To control the mouths of these 
rivers was to control the river trade. On every 
ground Turkey was the enemy, and experienced 
diplomats had long foreseen that sooner or later 
Russia would once more move against her. As 
far back as 1736 Horace Walpole had received a 
new map of the Crimea from Paris, with the 
remark that it had been drawn by a Russian. 
Walpole's comment had been that the eyes of the 
world were fixed on the line of the Perekop. 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

Yet, as it happened, it was Turkey, urged on 
by France in consequence of the happenings in 
Poland, who challenged Russia. Not that the 
challenge was a surprise either to Russia or to her 
fellow belligerent, Prussia. Both Catherine and 
Frederick had foreseen the possibility of Turkey's 
intervention in the matter of Poland, and some 
years earlier they had agreed that common action 
must be taken in Constantinople to avert such 
intervention, or if it could not be averted, then 
to turn it to account. As far as Catherine was 
concerned her method had been to set Russian 
agents at work not only in Constantinople, but 
in the Slavonic countries of the Balkans still occu- 
pied by Turkey. The work of those agents was 
to preach deliverance for the Slav people from 
their oppressors by the hand of Russia. 

It was from the peninsula in the Black Sea, that, 
in the autumn of 1768, Turkey struck at Russia. 
The peninsula, known alternatively as the Crimea 
or Taurida or the Chersonese, had long been one 
of the best organized of the Mongol settlements, 
owning the Sultan of Turkey as its overlord. It 
was also one of the most prosperous ; a prosperity 
based upon the wealth of the district in agriculture, 
in industry and in commerce. As the climate was 
favourable for agriculture, so the peninsula was 
geographically admirably suited as a trading 
centre, provided that the shores of the Black Sea 
with the river mouths were under the same 
control. 

132 



RUSSIA AND TURKEY 

But if the Mongols of the Crimea were a well- 
organized settlement, they also retained much of 
their earlier character as raiders. With their 
fellows on the northern shore of the Black Sea 
they spent the winter of 1768 and the early spring 
of 1769 conducting a series of inroads into Russian 
territory. The inroads were of the kind which had 
long been terrifyingly familiar to the people among 
whom they came. Suddenly the invaders would 
appear in a district, riding, as they have been 
pictured, crouched like monkeys on their horses, 
moving with the swiftness of greyhounds, creating 
terror and confusion, killing, looting, taking 
prisoners, whose fate would be to feed the great 
slave markets on the far side of the Mediter- 
ranean; and then retiring as quickly as they 
had come, across the Perekop. That winter 
was an appalling one for the Russian dwellers 
on the frontier. The prisoners carried off 
numbered thousands ; and the amount of booty 
taken matched the numbers of the prisoners. 
Little if any help came from St. Petersburg. The 
declaration of war by Turkey, although foreseen, 
had come before Catherine and her advisers were 
in complete readiness. Some of the best Russian 
regiments were with Suvorov in Poland. A good 
deal had to be done before the rest of the army 
should be ready for serious warfare. Help was, 
however, available in the immediate neighbour- 
hood. Russia had her Cossacks, dwellers in the 
steppes beyond the Mongol-occupied territory. 

'33 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

Cossack was not a racial name. Rather it 
designated a manner of life. The call of the 
steppes had ever attracted men whose deliberate 
choice was for a free existence in the wilds. To 
such men were joined others, poverty-stricken 
gentry, runaway peasants and workmen and men 
of all classes who sought refuge from retribution 
for misdeeds; with the element of free-booting 
always present. The Cossack numbers, which 
were very large, were made up in the main 
of Russians; but also included were Poles and 
their kin as well as Swedes and Scots from the 
north ; and even a proportion of Mongolians who 
sought other allegiance than that to the Sultan of 
Turkey. Together they formed a number of 
communities, of whom the three principal were 
the Cossacks of the Dnieper ; those of the Don ; 
and beyond, further yet to the east, those of the 
Ural river. At all times they were recruited in the 
capacity of irregular but most efficient cavalry 
soldiers. Their greater importance was, perhaps, 
the service they did Russia on the frontier. As 
good horsemen, as ardent fighters, and as skilled 
in guerilla and predatory tactics as were the 
Mongols themselves, the Cossacks conducted the 
border warfare in 1768 and 1769 as they had long 
conducted it, and the advantage was by no means 
always with the subjects of the Sultan. 

So passed the winter. In the spring of 1769 
Catherine was ready. She did not, however, move 
in the direction of the Crimea. That frontier 

134 



RUSSIA AND TURKEY 

fighting for the moment could be taken care of 
by the Cossacks. Her first blow was aimed at 
Turkey in the Balkan peninsula. Through that 
peninsula, the greater part of which had been 
occupied by the Turks since the early sixteenth 
century, ran the great water highway, the Danube 
with its tributaries, to empty itself, in its turn, into 
the Black Sea. Now Catherine made two bold 
strokes. The first was by land. In the spring of 
1769 a Russian army, under a good leader, Prince 
Golitsyn, reached the river Dniester; defeated a 
Turkish army on its banks ; and went on to occupy, 
first, Jassy, the capital of the Turkish province 
of Moldavia, and, then, Bucharest, the capital of 
their province of Wallachia. 

This was sufficiently startling to Europe. The 
following year was to unfold a still more startling 
event. A Russian fleet appeared in the 
Mediterranean. 

The work done during the past winter, and 
before, had not been confined to the army. There 
is evidence that the efficiency of the Russian 
navy had been much weakened since the great 
days of Peter the Great. Catherine herself had 
written to Panin that while Russia had ships 
and men, she did not, it would appear, possess a 
navy. That there must be reorganization had 
long been clear to her; and, in fact, some work 
had been done comparatively early in her reign. 
It was then that the Earl of Buckinghamshire 
had visited Cronstadt with her in order to 

135 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

survey the fleet lying in that harbour. His story 
is that on that occasion Catherine disputed with 
him as to which end of a man-of-war went out 
of the harbour first. The story may be true, 
revealing Catherine's self-confidence even when 
she had no knowledge of technical matters. But 
her powers of conception on broad lines were 
great ; and she seldom failed to seize on the ideas 
of others and to make them her own. 

In the navy, re-equipped, re-fortified and 
extended, three commanders were conspicuous. 
The one was Alexis Orlov. Neither of the other 
two were of Russian birth. Admiral John 
Elphinstone was one of the branch of that 
family who had settled in Russia. His colleague, 
Admiral Samuel Greig, had taken service in the 
Russian navy about the year 1763. Grieg has 
been called the creator of the Russian navy. 
The parts played by the three respectively in 
the ensuing naval war have been diversely 
interpreted. That Orlov showed himself not 
unable is not disputed, nor that Elphinstone and 
Greig were sailors of experience. 

Two contingents of the navy, one fleet under 
Elphinstone and the other under a Russian 
commander not Orlov, who was to join them 
presently left their bases, sailed through the 
Baltic and reached the North Sea. Authorities 
in France, hearing of the sailing, were both angry 
and alarmed. Had they been able to interfere 
they would have done so. They were not able; 

136 



RUSSIA AND TURKEY 

and their opposing power, England, had no 
intention of putting any obstacle in the way of the 
passage of the ships. England did more than this. 
She permitted the vessels to revictual and to some 
extent refurnish at divers English ports. Thence 
the two fleets traversed the Atlantic to pass 
through the Straits of Gibraltar into the Mediter- 
ranean; making towards the Aegean Sea, with 
the Balkan peninsula jutting into it. 

Here a project had been planned. Pursuant 
to the successes of the Russian army on land, an 
insurrection in Greece had been thought to be 
hopeful ; and had been largely organized by Orlov, 
who, already in the Mediterranean, now joined 
the fleet. But the result was a complete fiasco; 
and for the Greeks a tragedy. Between February 
and May the latter were cruelly crushed by a 
united army of Turks and Albanians. The 
Russians could do nothing for them; and had 
every need to make ready to meet the Turkish 
fleet, whose sailors were experienced in every 
characteristic of the inland sea, so long the scene 
of their many exploits, including slave raids. It 
was a sea to which the Russians now came for 
the first time. 

The great clash did not come until the month 
of July. In the first week of that month the two 
fleets met in a battle which was short and sharp. 
The Turkish fleet was not merely scattered ; it was, 
by a final blow delivered off Chios, to all intents 
and purposes destroyed. The Russian fleet lay 

137 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

triumphantly at the eastern end of the Mediter- 
ranean. At the same time the Russian armies 
were in full occupation of Moldavia and WaUaphia 
and had been hailed by the Orthodox population 
as an army of liberation. 

During these two years of victories Catherine 
had never lacked the stimulus of admiration from 
at least one of her correspondents. From the 
moment when the great enterprises on land and 
afterwards at sea had begun, the old sage of 
Ferney had permitted himself to go into ecstasies; 
ecstasies which moved him to verses in which he 
saluted Catherine's coming triumph over Moham- 
med. Catherine was, so she was assured by 
Voltaire, i greater even than Hannibal had been. 
The philosopher imagined himself, so he wrote, 
no longer to be living in the eighteenth century, 
but to be back in the heroic age. Surely, he con- 
tinued, her fleet, watched over and blessed by 
Hero and Leander, must triumph in the Helles- 
pont. For to Voltaire, as to Catherine herself, 
the end of all was to be Constantinople. 

The alarm, however, felt elsewhere than at St. 
Petersburg and on the shore of the lake of Geneva 
was profound. France, in using Turkey against 
Russia, had laid the match to a train of events, 
of which the consequences had now to be faced. 
All Europe had to ask the question whether 
they really desired to see Turkey driven out of 
Europe; leaving in its place Russia holding 
Constantinople and established on the Danube. 
138 



RUSSIA AND TURKEY 

France had no choice but to continue her 
support of Turkey, even if she wished otherwise, 
which Choiseul was far from doing. French 
engineers, to whose skill the defences of Constan- 
tinople already owed much, were again working 
on the fortifications. Austria, for her part, had 
begun to re-arm. Maria Theresa now had a co- 
ruler in her son, who, as Joseph II, had succeeded 
his father in 1765 as Emperor. To both, and to 
their ministers, the penetration of Russia into the 
Balkans was even more disconcerting than had 
been the Turkish rule there. Of the great powers 
there remained England and Prussia. 

England had not played a great part in contin- 
ental diplomacy since the close of the Seven 
Years War. Nor did she, at this time, view the 
question of the eastern end of the Mediterranean 
as vital to her interests. Russia was not seen as a 
threat to India, where the East India Company 
now ruled triumphant after the conflict with 
France. Rather it was the latter country who was 
still England's rival and potential enemy. At 
any moment France might try to regain what had 
been lost ; and it was France who was England's 
trade rival in the Mediterranean. Pitt, now Earl 
of Chatham, remarked for his part that as against 
Turkey he was quite a 'Russ 5 , and expressed the 
hope that the fall of the Ottoman Empire would 
bring down with it the House of Bourbon. Eng- 
land further now had a great and important 
trade with Russia as is shown by the records 

139 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

of the merchant vessels entering and leaving the 
mouth of the Neva. Economically she desired to 
keep that trade at all hazards. On her side, 
Catherine, frankly disliking the English parlia- 
mentary system and the constitution generally, 
valued her connections, both economic and 
political, with England ; and was prepared to go 
some lengths including on the one hand flattery 
and on the other the use of skilful Russian agents 
to retain some sort of an understanding. She 
did, it is true, express the opinion that alliance 
with a parliamentary government was never 
likely to be of a durable nature. Durable alli- 
ances were not, however, she might have 
reflected, a feature of the day, whatever the 
nature of the government or governments in- 
volved. But neither England nor Russia was 
inclined to come into opposition one with 
the other. 

There remained Prussia; and Frederick of 
Prussia proposed a solution of the situation. 
Frederick, by his own showing in his memoirs, did 
not in the least want to see Turkey wiped off the 
map of Europe. Austria had been his ancient 
enemy ; and who could say whether Turkey might 
not at some future date be of service as against 
Austria? More than this. She could be similarly 
used as a check on Russia. He and Catherine were 
writing regularly one to the other; and the two 
countries had been acting together. But this was 
far from meaning that Frederick was prepared to 

140 



RUSSIA AND TURKEY 

take any risks in respect of the schemes of his 
correspondent, and the vast potentialities of the 
country over which she ruled. Strictly speaking 
he had been bound by treaty to assist Catherine 
in the war which had now broken out ; but to see 
Turkey replaced by Russia at Constantinople was 
no part of his plans ; nor had he any intention of 
being drawn into the conflict. There was another 
way out. 

Already in the year 1768, the year of the forma- 
tion of the Confederation of Bar and the beginning 
of war in Poland, he had written in what was to 
be his political testament, that the main object of 
policy for his successor should be to secure that 
part of Poland known as ducal Prussia, which had 
long been the subject of claims by the latter 
country. He added that the chief obstacle in the 
way was likely to be Russia ; and that on the whole 
it would probably be advisable to attempt to 
annex the district bit by bit, by negotiations, 
rather than by war. As the course of affairs 
in Europe progressed he had not been slow to 
perceive that an opportunity now offered to carry 
out the desired plan himself, instead of leaving it 
to his successor ; provided that it was made in the 
first place worth Russia's while ; and in the next, 
Austria's, to acquiesce. Early in 1769 the Prussian 
Ambassador in St. Petersburg had been ordered 
to approach the Empress and also Count Panin. 
The Ambassador was to ascertain whether they 
would be inclined, in return for a slice of Poland, 

141 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

to allow Frederick to take his slice and, as a 
further consideration, to conclude a negotiated 
peace with Turkey. 

Panin, even though he had long been in the 
pay of the Prussian King, had not been favour- 
ably impressed. He continued to hold the opinion 
that a strong Poland, well-affected to Russia, 
would best serve the latter's purpose. Catherine, 
on the other hand, had arrived at the point of 
being ready to go beyond her original policy 
with regard to Poland and had definitely been 
thinking, as had some among her advisers, in 
terms of an advance of the western frontier. She 
had showed herself, therefore, willing to consider 
what to her was a tempting and also practical 
proposition, the more so because she had not 
yet been in the full tide of the victories over 
Turkey, and had been alarmed at the war-like 
preparations in Austria. 

Then Frederick, that 'honest broker', had 
turned to Austria ; to Maria Theresa, in her early 
fifties a tired woman; to Joseph II; to the Chan- 
cellor Kaunitz. It was the two latter who, with 
the King of Prussia, brought pressure to bear on 
the former and her conscience, a conscience which, 
as she wrote to Kaunitz, told her what was being 
proposed was contrary to all justice. But, she had 
continued, as she saw she stood alone, and was 
lacking in her old strength, she must give in. 

So the scheme progressed. In 1770, an envoy 
Qrom Frederick, his brother Henry of Prussia, 

142 



RUSSIA AND TURKEY 

arrived in St, Petersburg, to leave for posterity 
a book of memoirs on his experiences there. 

Catherine, since the first mooting of the 
matter, had had her triumphs on land and on sea. 
Yet, in this year, her conquests appeared to 
be static. Despite Voltaire's invocation of Hero 
and Leander, her navy had not penetrated the 
straits. Constantinople still stood. Nor had 
her army made any further really substantial 
advances on land. Moreover, news had come 
from Poland that the French had sent thither 
the general Dumouriez, known as a first-class 
soldier, who was to reorganize the forces of the 
Confederation. It was time to come to an agree- 
ment ; and both the Empress and Panin were pre- 
pared to listen to Prince Henry, even though the 
minister never ceased to have his doubts urging 
always, as before, the desirability of a strong, a 
free, a friendly Poland, as a buffer state. 

The negotiations continued over another two 
years. During that time Poland, as so often in her 
history, experienced all the emotions of success and 
of failure. In April, 1771, Dumouriez led the 
forces of the Confederation he had only a few 
French troops with him to victory on the banks 
of the Vistula, when a Russian army was routed. 
Had he been able to follow up this triumph much 
might have been done, but the French general 
had found the Polish troops under his command 
difficult to deal with, nor was he on good terms 
with the leaders of the Confederation. After a 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

defeat at the hands of Suvorov and his men, 
Dumouriez withdrew to his own country. The 
struggle then centred round Cracow, which fell 
to Suvorov in the spring of 1 772. At the same time 
an Austrian as well as a Prussian army had 
assembled on their respective frontiers, ready to 
invade a country which now lay at their mercy. It 
was time to act. In August, 1772, the documents 
effecting what was to be known as the first Par- 
tition of Poland were signed. As the price of 
putting an end to the Russian-Turkish conflict, 
and, more particularly, of averting a general 
conflagration, Poland was to be stripped of about 
one-fourth of her territory. That fourth was now 
divided into three more or less equal divisions, 
taking population as well as territory into consid- 
eration. To Russia fell the portion east of the 
rivers Dwina and Dnieper: to Austria parts of 
Galicia, Podolia and Little Poland, with the city 
of Cracow. Frederick secured his coveted ducal 
Prussia but was forced, in spite of all efforts to the 
contrary, to acknowledge Dantzig and Thorn as 
independent. 

In the truncated kingdom Stanislas Augustus 
remained king. And, since the Confederation of 
Bar was now, after the fall of Cracow, beaten to its 
knees, the Russian troops were, by agreement, 
withdrawn. The Russian agents, however, 
remained. 

Since this partition, profoundly shocking such 
tender consciences as existed in the Europe of the 

144 



RUSSIA AND TURKEY 

day, a deed which was to be the subject of lofty 
invective by future writers, was intended to end 
the Turkish war, Gregori Orlov was despatched by 
Catherine to meet the Turks as her plenipoten- 
tiary. Orlov, she opined, since without exaggera- 
tion he was the most handsome man of the day, 
would appear to these barbarians in the guise of 
an angel. But the 'barbarians', perceiving that 
they held some useful cards, proposed to bargain 
with the angel. The discussions dragged on. 
Another meeting, in 1773, at Bucharest, brought 
equally poor results. Catherine lost patience. 
Against the advice of her commander in Wallachia 
she ordered the immediate reopening of hostilities 
and advance of the Russian forces. In face of the 
strongly entrenched Turkish positions, and the 
nature of the ground, the plan was, as her generals 
told her, extremely dangerous. In the event 
it was the incompetence of a Turkish commander 
who paid for that incompetence with his head 
which saved the Russian army from defeat, and 
perhaps from annihilation. There was some fur- 
ther fighting. But the Turks had had enough. 
Catherine too had warnings, which could not be 
ignored, of trouble within Russia itself. On 21 
July, 1774, the treaty of peace was signed at 
Kuchuk-Kainardji. 

The territorial clauses of this treaty seemed at 
first sight to offer Russia inadequate reward for 
the penetration of her armies westward beyond 
the Dniester, not to speak of her naval triumph 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

in the Aegean, although this had not had the 
hoped-for results. The agreement now was that the 
Russian armies should withdraw completely from 
Moldavia and Wallachia. Acquisition of territory 
at the expense of Turkey was, however, provided 
for elsewhere : on the shores of the Black Sea where 
the Cossack forces, augmented by some regular 
troops, had fought with considerable success ; and 
around the Sea of Azov. On the latter the much- 
disputed port of the same name passed finally into 
Russian hands; and so, too, to the south-east, 
beyond the Sea of Azov, did a part of the province 
of Kuban. More important, the town and fortress 
of Kerch guarding the narrow straits between the 
two seas was, with the adjacent district, a second- 
ary peninsula, handed over to Russia. Westward, 
although the Crimea remained under its Khan 
and the tributaries of Turkey along the northern 
shore of the Black Sea were merely declared 
independent, the great estuary formed by the 
Dnieper and the Bug as they entered the sea, with 
the town of Kinburn at the mouth of the former 
river, was declared Russian. Russia had obtained a 
firm footing on the northern shore of the Pontus 
Euxinus of the ancient world, the sea towards 
which so many of her rulers before Catherine had 
turned longing eyes. The footing was strengthened 
by further concessions which gave Russia rights 
of free passage for purposes of trade both on sea 
and on land with the Turkish dominions. It was 
a signal triumph. Yet jurists and diplomats of a 

146 



RUSSIA AND TURKEY 

later day were inclined to attach as much, if not 
more, importance to certain further clauses in the 
treaty. These latter concerned neither territory, 
nor trade, but the church for which Russia stood. 
Nor did they form one complete section of the 
document. On the contrary, they were scattered 
throughout various sections in a disorder which, 
as the French historian Sorel was afterwards to 
remark, did a great deal of credit to the diplomatic 
dexterity of Catherine's plenipotentiaries. 

By these clauses the Turkish government prom- 
ised that in future and in perpetuity all Christians 
living in the lands over which they held sway 
should be allowed freedom of worship; old 
churches might be repaired ; new churches might 
be built. One such edifice was specifically men- 
tioned. An Orthodox church was to be built 
in the Galata suburb of Constantinople for public 
worship as distinct from the private chapel of the 
Russian Ambassador, but also under his protec- 
tion. Incidentally, the Russian embassy was now 
to be permanent at the Porte, which had not been 
the case hitherto. Lastly, the Turkish authorities 
undertook to receive in a friendly spirit all or any 
representations made in future by Russia on 
behalf of the Orthodox congregations. 

Whatever the meaning the signatories of the 
treaty had intended should be attached to these 
stipulations, as to those dealing with trade, all 
very quickly acquired a wide interpretation. By 
virtue of them Russia was to put forward her 

'47 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

claim to become the instrument of civilization 
within the Turkish dominions, and in so doing to 
claim also the right to intervene in the domestic 
affairs of that empire. 

Catherine might be held to be justified when, 
in 1773, the year before the signing of the treaty, 
she had celebrated the Russian victories, not in 
St. Petersburg, but in Moscow, driving in the 
evening in a gilded coach to the Kremlin, where, 
in the Chapel of the Annunciation, lit up by what 
an English traveller described as myriads of tapers, 
was held a solemn service of thanksgiving. 

Nevertheless, in this same year of 1773, 
Catherine had been faced by a grave disturbance 
within Russia itself. 



148 



Chapter Seven 

Pugachev 

THHE disturbance within Russia which occurred 
A in the moment of triumph over Turkey had, 
at first, been regarded by the Empress and her 
ministers as tiresome, but of small import. It was 
some little time before they realized its gravity, 
and even so, only here and there a keen-eyed 
observer suspected the full significance of a rebel- 
lion which was to stand out among the many 
which had punctuated the course of Russian 
history. 

It was no palace revolution. It was trouble in 
the vast territories of that Russia which lay beyond 
St. Petersburg; beyond Moscow. And it con- 
cerned the workers on the land and in industry. 

Neither the establishment of the Free Econom- 
ical Society nor the discussions of the Commission 
had brought any advantage to the peasants. On 
the contrary, the year 1765 had seen the land- 
owners secure authority to send a recalcitrant serf 
to Siberia without either reference to the law or 
right of appeal. That latter right had once been 
possessed by the worker, even if only in theory. 
Now it had been completely wiped out. At the 
same time while some of the more enlightened 

149 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

landowners were inclined to do their best in 
easing general conditions for their peasants ; under 
others, many of them alarmed at the talk of free- 
dom, those conditions were growing worse. And 
there was revolt. Since the beginning of Cather- 
ine's reign disturbances had, it was reckoned, 
broken out on different occasions in at least fifty 
separate districts; and on at least two occasions 
had reached considerable dimensions. 

Those disturbances had not been confined to 
workers on the land. Another class was as much 
in bondage as they; and was working under as 
bad, if not worse, conditions. Such were those who 
laboured in the factories, and in the mines ; and to 
these must be added the woodmen and charcoal 
burners of the forests, not strictly speaking peasants. 
In all these cases the perennial shortage of labour 
had ended in the debasement of those who laboured, 
for the difficulty had been met, as in agriculture, 
by the creation of a system that was, in effect, 
forced labour, in mines, factories and forests, 
whether these were worked directly by the state, 
or were leased by the state to private owners; 
or were the property of the latter. 

In the beginning, again, as had also been the 
case with the peasants, a certain number of free 
or unbonded men had worked side by side with 
others, who were unfree. Some of these latter 
belonged by status to the state or to private 
owners; others were bonded peasants of land- 
owners who had been compulsorily transferred 

150 



PUOACHEV 

from agriculture ; and yet others were conscripted 
convicts or deportees. All received fixed wages, 
with travelling allowances for those living away 
from their employment. All were liable for taxes ; 
and here was an additional grievance ; for the tax- 
ation was based on the individual only in theory. 
In practice it was based on the group ; so that all 
payments due from absentees, whether these were 
runaways, or had been taken away by the 
authorities for military service, had to be made up 
by those who remained. 

As time went on, the lot of these workers in 
industry ran parallel to that of the workers on the 
land. The free or partially free were gradually 
debased to the condition of their bound fellows, 
until an edict of 1736 took away all liberty of 
action, in providing that all workmen should 
remain each in his factory or mine, with his 
family, for ever. Whether their circumstances 
were even moderately tolerable depended upon 
the administration, and that administration 
differed widely from place to place. But travellers 
and observers during the last three decades of the 
eighteenth century seldom failed to record the 
often miserable condition of the workers, nor to 
note the inexpediency of obligatory labour ; and 
the use made of it by the all too often unscrupulous 
employer, whether he were a private individual 
or some official. 

Voices had been raised on behalf of those 
workers. Petitions had reached the authorities. 



C.G. 6 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

Catherine herself was as aware of the importance 
of the problem as she was aware of that of the 
workers on the land. She had had enquiries made. 
In 1769 she had decreed a rise of wages. The 
former had come to nothing. The latter had 
immediately been followed by a disconcerting rise 
in prices. Catherine was not averse to proposing 
reforms and some such reforms might have been 
effective had she been able to carry them through. 

She was not so able. Her own dependence on 
the prejudices of those who had helped her to 
attain the throne and now were keeping her there ; 
the very vastness of Russia, the unwieldy yet 
ancient machinery which the commission had 
done little or nothing to improve ; the many con- 
flicting interests ; all were obstacles in the path of 
possible change. It was easier, almost necessary 
for even an autocrat Empress to leave things as 
they were. So, punctuated by outbursts, some 
light, some more ominous, among the peasants, 
and other workers, matters had continued. Then 
came serious trouble. 

The area of disturbance was in that section of 
the steppes which lay south of a line drawn from 
east to west through Moscow; between the Don 
and the Ural rivers, and intersected by the Volga 
river. It was a land which was partly wooded and 
partly grass grown, the grass of the steppes, grow- 
ing freely in the rich black soil. It was the land of 
great estates, their houses and their dependents. 
But the vast stretches of country, watered by the 

15* 



PUGACHEV 

three great rivers, were also the background for 
other communities. On the western edge of the 
district were the Cossacks of the Don. While they 
retained many of their original characteristics, 
this particular community had, during the past 
century, gradually evolved from a completely wild 
life into a more settled one. Still sending many 
recruits to the army, they had also developed both 
agricultural and trading interests; and in these 
they had prospered to a remarkable degree; 
having many contacts with the world outside. 
Therein they were in marked contrast to the 
communities of the two rivers to the east, the 
Volga and the Ural. The district of the Volga, 
with its trading fortified posts, had a population 
which was a mixture of Mongol and Russian. That 
population, unlike those of the other two rivers, 
had never organized itself, or part of itself, into 
a regular Cossack host or community. But in the 
seventeen-seventies, the district was still, as it had 
long been, a happy hunting-ground for adven- 
turers, vagrants, bands of marauders and river 
pirates. And, to the east, were Cossacks again, the 
Cossacks of the Ural river, who clung to the old 
wild life of the steppes ; and who represented a far 
stronger Mongol element and a far more lawless 
one than did the Cossacks of the Don. Between 
the Volga and the Ural rivers was combustible 
material in plenty. And that combustible material 
was, comparatively speaking, in dangerously close 
proximity to a set of workers among whom 

153 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

discontent had been, and was, particularly rife. 

To the north of the Ural river as it flowed 
westward from the Ural range before turning 
sharply southward towards the Caspian Sea, was 
the province of Orenburg. The principal town 
of the same name stood at the confluence of the 
Orel river with the Ural river. It was of great 
importance as a fortress; as a trading post with 
the Asiatic frontier ; and as a centre for the many 
industrial settlements which had been founded in 
proximity to the Ural mountains, since that range 
had been reached by Russia early in the fifteenth 
century. Salt mines had been worked throughout 
the district, particularly in the neighbourhood 
of Orenburg, from the earliest days. Under 
Peter the Great had come a development of the 
iron and copper industries. At the same time the 
forests, in which the district also abounded, had 
offered opportunities, which had been taken, for 
fur trading ; for the lumber industry which was so 
essential ; and the charcoal making which was as 
essential to almost every other industry. The 
Urals had, too, an almost inexhaustible supply of 
salt, a monopoly of the crown, both rock salt 
and that drawn from salt lakes. Lastly there was 
a flourishing silk trade, which had derived from 
Persia whence came silkworms and the mulberry 
trees which supplied their food. 

All these industries were either in the hands of 
the crown or had been given over for development 
to various great merchant families. The lot of 

154 



PUGACHEV 

those who worked in them, particularly in respect 
of the mining district of the Urals, a lot of slavery, 
was probably as bad as, if not worse than, could 
be found anywhere else in Russia. Taken in 
conjunction with the grievances of the peasants 
on the great estates to the south and the south- 
east, there existed every potentiality for a 
conflagration. In 1771, the industrial workers and 
peasants alike were approached by an adroit 
agitator; and the smouldering material began to 
blaze up. 

The agitator in question was Emilian Pugachev, 
a Cossack, not however of the Ural river but of the 
Don ; not one of the more law-abiding kind of that 
community. Interested neither in agriculture nor 
trade, Pugachev had early become one of the 
irregular horsemen attached to the regular army; 
and had fought in Poland and in Turkey. As a 
soldier his career had been punctuated by a series 
of conflicts with authority ; followed by spells of 
imprisonment. From the last of these he had 
escaped ; had made his way back to the steppes, 
but not to his own community on the Don. He 
had appeared instead, in the year 1771, among 
the Cossacks of the Ural. In that community, 
always more or less in antagonism to authority, 
he had quickly made himself a figure round whom 
all who had grievances, all who were disposed to 
rebellion, rallied. Thence the flame of revolt 
spread to the workers and peasants whose 
grievances in their turn were fanned by clever 

'55 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

manifestos sent forth by Pugachev, although 
probably not composed by him. 

Catherine and her advisers in St. Petersburg, 
and in Moscow, were not at first unduly perturbed 
by the news of what was happening; although 
Moscow may well have felt more acutely on the 
subject than did the northern capital. The older 
capital had experienced much in the past of 
which Peter's city knew nothing. But Catherine, 
writing to Voltaire, even in January, 1773, 
referred to the disturbances as one of the only too 
familiar Cossack revolts. This impudent Puga- 
chev was, she wrote, merely a common highway- 
man ; and the population of the district in which 
he had appeared consisted for the most part of 
Tartars, whom everyone knew to have been 
pillagers ever since the world was created; and 
joined with these every rascal, of whom the more 
civilized part of Russia had seen fit to rid itself 
during the last forty years. She personally did not 
intend that the news of the rising should disturb 
the intercourse, in which she was taking so much 
pleasure, with Diderot, who was at that moment 
on his second visit to St. Petersburg. Voltaire in 
reply agreed that the conversation between 
Catherine and one of the princes of the encyclo- 
paedists ought in no wise to be impeded by the 
exploits of a brigand. 

It was not long before Catherine at least was 
to perceive that something more than brigandage 
was in question; and in that same letter to 

156 



PUGAGHEV 

Voltaire, she had already mentioned a fact of some 
significance. The impertinent fellow was, she 
wrote, actually calling himself by the name of, 
and claiming to be, the late Emperor, her one- 
time husband, Peter III. 

So Pugachev had indeed given forth. The 
Emperor, it was explained, had not been killed 
after all. On the contrary, he had escaped, and 
gone on his travels in Poland, in Egypt, or, 
according to one version, had even reached 
Jerusalem. 

The path of pretender has always been open 
to all adventurers in all lands; and this resur- 
rection of Peter in particular was not in itself a 
new idea. Four previous pretenders at least, 
also calling themselves by Peter's name, had 
already appeared, and had been dealt with. 
But under Pugachev the play was made much 
more elaborate. The sumptuous background 
included a court, a secretary of state, a queen, 
and an heir. It all partook of the nature of 
fantasy ; by a further touch of which an Orlov 
and a Vorontsov were included among the staff. 

Pugachev's more intelligent supporters could 
never have had any doubt that the man who 
claimed to be Emperor was, in fact, a typical 
Cossack, of striking character, but almost illiterate, 
and many years younger than the man he claimed 
to be ; and that his so-called queen was a Cossack 
girl from the Urals. Incidentally, the latter was 
not even Pugachev's legal wife, for he had left 

'57 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

another, with a family of children, in the district of 
the Don. But the appeal was a subtle one, for it 
was made to something even over and above that 
in human nature which is called forth by a pre- 
tender, any pretender. It was an appeal to the 
feeling, half filial, half mystical, entertained by 
the average Russian towards his Tsar. Their 
Little Father, could he but hear them, would 
redress their grievances. That this particular 
Little Father, having been said to have been 
dead and many may not have heard of the 
death should thus reappear as their saviour, 
was not astonishing. The dweller in the great 
forests or in the steppes was essentially one 
who could accept strange happenings, since 
in his experience of nature such did occur. All 
this was backed by something more solid. What 
had never been forgotten was that when Peter III 
had issued his edict which had released the 
gentry from their obligation of service, it had 
been spread abroad that this edict had been 
intended to be the forerunner of another. And 
that this other would emancipate the serfs. 
Many had even said that the second edict had 
actually been drawn up and had then been 
suppressed. Now Pugachev, whether of his own 
volition, or as advised by some of those around 
him, made good use of this lost edict; and 
appealing thus in the name of Peter III, the 
Cossack called for support from all who wished 
to redeem their lot. 

158 



PUGACHEV 

By November in 1773 he had got together a 
considerable force. His own Cossack troops 
might be irregulars, but they were also in many 
cases men of considerable trained military 
experience ; not to speak of their own aptitude 
for guerilla warfare. These men were ready 
and willing to train for service the workers from 
the mines, the factories, the forests, and the land 
generally who flocked to join the host. One 
weak point, however, was the almost complete 
abstention of the Cossacks of the Don, the 
district from which Pugachev had originally come ; 
and moreover, the district which had for many 
years supplied the best fighting men to the 
Russian armies. The abstention marked clearly 
the difference which had grown up between this 
community and the Cossacks of the Ural and 
their neighbours. 

Towards the end of the month Pugachev 
made his first move. He proceeded to invest 
the town of Orenburg and at the same time his 
men spread themselves over the surrounding 
district; inviting everywhere co-operation from 
all workers. 

In the meantime, the authorities in St. Peters- 
burg and Moscow had become aware of the new 
activities of this highwayman; and, although 
still not at the moment disposed to take it as 
anything more than one of the disturbances 
with which they were already familiar, they saw 
that something must be done. A general named 

159 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

Karr was instructed to proceed with a body of 
troops towards Orenburg, and to quell the revolt. 
Karr was the Russian version of Ker or Carr. 
'The general was one of the numerous Scotsmen 
who during the past two centuries, and even 
before, had been exercising many professions, 
civil as well as military, in Russia. In Russian 
records he was usually referred to as having 
come from North Britain. He may well have 
been a descendant of that Robert Ker, a Scottish 
soldier of fortune, who had been prominent in 
Russia during the early part of the seventeenth 
century. If of the Scottish border family, the 
general might have been supposed to be par- 
ticularly suited to deal with such an insurrection 
as that of Pugachev appeared to be. But St. 
Petersburg had entirely underrated the strength 
of the movement which he was sent to face. 
Karr and his troops reached the Orenburg district 
to find Pugachev's men far more numerous, far 
better trained and far better armed than had 
been imagined could be the case; and daily 
they were being reinforced by workers, peasants 
and others, continuing to arrive in a regular 
stream. At the same time rebels had the supreme 
advantage of being in many cases native to the 
district in which they were fighting. And at 
their back another movement was taking place, 
which, if it only helped them to a lesser degree, 
was considerable additional trouble to Karr's 
army. This was the emergence of a number of 
160 



PUGACHEV 

bands of robbers, and river pirates from the 
Volga, whom the news of the insurrection had 
released from the very light restrictions that they 
had ever put upon themselves. 

It was small wonder that in the district around 
Orenburg all should have been tumult and 
affright among the gentry who saw the threat to 
their property, and as they knew well, to their 
own lives. Something very like a mass retreat 
to Moscow began among them. 

Into the turmoil came Karr and his men ; only 
to find that they were quite insufficient to attack 
Pugachev's forces; or even to hold their own. 
Karr returned to Moscow; made a report; and 
was dismissed by Catherine for having left his post 
without leave. But the month was now January ; 
and enough had been learnt for Catherine and 
her ministers to see that the situation could not 
be played with. It was decided to replace Karr by 
General Bibikov, he who had presided over the 
commission. So that no time should be wasted 
large numbers of infantry were sent off in post 
carts as a preliminary instead of being marched. 

Before Bibikov himself left for the front, 
Catherine summoned a council. One purpose of 
the meeting was to have the instructions to the 
general read aloud, himself present. But the mani- 
festo which embodied those instructions contained 
something more; and that something was credit- 
ably said to have been the inspiration of Catherine 
herself. It was her answer to the claim of Pugachev 

161 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

to be no Cossack rebel, but to be Peter III, 
returned from exile. In her reply, she, who had 
taken Peter's place, bade those assembled to look 
back to the d'ays, the terrible days as she called 
them, of Boris Godonov. Then, too, the throne, 
she declared, had been threatened as it was being 
threatened today, by a pretender, who had claimed 
to be the late Tsarevitch Demetrius ; one who had 
plunged Russia into civil war, the blood of Russia 
shed by Russians, and set towns and villages all 
aflame. 

It is noteworthy that Gregori Orlov and others 
as well are said to have asked for the deletion of the 
reference to the man who two hundred years before 
had seized the throne of Russia, without a vestige 
of hereditary claim, the true heir having suppos- 
edly been murdered with or without his cogniz- 
ance. That Catherine should so have used the 
story throws, perhaps, some light upon the mind 
of the woman who had convinced herself of the 
righteousness of her destiny. Her correspondent 
at Ferney looked at the matter from yet another 
angle. Catherine received a letter from him in 
February ; an answer to hers which had informed 
him of the revolt. In his he thanked her for 
transporting him in spirit to Orenburg, and for 
making him acquainted with Monsieur Pugachev. 
He added that hitherto he had always believed, 
from his reading of Persian history, that the 
district in which the highwayman was operating 
was a most favoured land. Now he learned from 
162 



PUGAGHEV 

the letter of the Empress that it was on the con- 
trary a barbarous country filled with vagabonds 
and criminals. Catherine, however, must remem- 
ber that her rays, although as of the sun, could not 
penetrate everywhere at the same time; and the 
furthest confines of an empire that extended over 
2,000 miles in longitude could only be dealt with 
from a distance. As for Pugachev calling him- 
self by the name of the late Emperor ; and the 
analogy of Demetrius; that kind of theatrical 
performance, wrote Voltaire, might have been 
successful two hundred years ago, but surely 
today it could be whistled away. So spoke the 
authoritative voice of the age of reason. 

In the meantime Bibikov, having received his 
instructions, had left. A not unimportant clause 
in those instructions had told him to attack with 
that superiority which always belongs to a discip- 
lined army against a mob moved only by emotion 
and fanaticism. This was sound enough. But 
Bibikov had no delusions about the difficulty of 
his task. His early contacts with the situation as 
he found it on his arrival at the Orenburg front 
made him take an even more serious view of what 
was going on. He sent a report to St. Petersburg. 
That report stated that Pugachev himself really 
mattered very little. But, added Bibikov flatly, 
the universal discontent mattered very much. The 
importance of the Cossack was that he had now 
become a symbol; and the revolt which he was 
leading had become a widespread peasant move- 

163 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

ment. It was, wrote the general, a revolt of the 
poor against the rich. 

Bibikov had, indeed, summed up the situation 
correctly. Further, it now became evident that 
Pugachev was getting more support from some- 
what unexpected quarters. Many of the regular 
troops had their own grievances, which spurred 
them on to make common cause with the rebels. 
Also, to the surprise of many onlookers, it became 
clear that the movement had the sympathy of the 
clergy, that is of those priests who were most 
closely in touch with the peasantry, and remote 
from the hierarchy of Moscow and St. Petersburg. 
That hierarchy, on the whole, stood by the crown, 
and so did, as a rule, the monastic orders. 

Throughout the spring months the campaign 
continued. In spite of more than one defeat at 
the hands of Bibikov's men the Cossack held his 
own; and more than his own. Not only was he 
successful in the field, but his influence and conse- 
quently the movement of revolt continued to 
spread northward through the provinces of Ufa 
and Perm and north-westward through Samara. 
Workers from the further off salt and copper mines 
came into the capital of the province of Perm to 
listen eagerly to the manifestos which promised 
redress of all their grievancs. Abandoning their 
employment they thronged with others to join 
Pugachev. They looted and they sacked wherever 
they went; while Pugachev as guerilla leader 
deployed his troops so as wherever possible to 

164 



PUGACHEV 

avoid giving battle to his more experienced oppon- 
ents ; but fighting whenever he had to fight. 

By the end of June the movement to the north- 
west, the most ominous line taken by the insur- 
gents, for it pointed straight at the heart of Russia, 
had approached the city of Kazan. On 12 July 
the rebel forces stormed the town, reducing it to 
a mass of blazing ruins. Standing on the Volga 
some fifty miles above the junction of that river 
with its tributary the Kama, Kazan had been a 
Mongol city until it had been seized in 1552 by 
Ivan the Terrible and incorporated in Russia, 
although the population had remained for the 
most part eastern and non-Russian. But, as 
Russia had pushed eastward, so had the economic 
importance of Kazan grown, in its connections 
with the Ural district, and in its comparative 
proximity to the Kama river which was the 
water-highway leading to Siberia. Now once more 
it suffered the fire and slaughter not unknown 
in its past history. Small wonder that Moscow, 
receiving panic-stricken refugees day after day, 
was terrified. At any moment it was felt Pugachev 
might appear at its gates. He, continuing to 
announce himself as Peter III, had declared his 
intention of disposing of the Empress, when he 
could get her, not by murder but by sending her 
to a convent, that time-honoured expedient for 
disposing of unwanted women. It was an 
expedient to which the regent Anne had been 
forced to submit by Elizabeth and other royal 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

ladies before her, for the same fate had overtaken 
a too strong-minded sister of Peter the Great 
himself. 

But there was to be no convent for Catherine 
and Pugachev never reached Moscow. General 
Bibikov died. But he was replaced by a good 
soldier, Peter Panin, a brother of the minister ; 
and Panin had with him an excellent general, 
Mikhelson. On 15 July the latter caught up with 
and defeated Pugachev's forces just outside Kazan, 
where they had encamped. The defeat might have 
been fatal to the Cossacks then and there, had 
Mikhelson but had an efficient body of cavalry 
with him. His forces, however, consisted for the 
most part of infantry. Pugachev and many of his 
men, with their horses, got away. They even 
partially re-formed, to attempt a last desperate 
move to reach Moscow. But that move was a 
failure. The getting together of the men again was 
very far from complete. And now the essen- 
tial weakness of the guerilla troops against a 
disciplined army became evident. More and more 
the former tended to break up into small bands ; 
and more and more was the central authority 
over them weakened. At no time perhaps had 
Pugachev ever had full control over all who called 
themselves his followers. In August another 
notable regular general appeared on the scene. 
It was Suvorov, released from his service on the 
Polish and Turkish fronts. But when Suvorov 
came the rebellion was nearly over. On 22 Octo- 

166 



PUGACHEV 

her (2 November, N.S.), Catherine wrote to 
Voltaire that the Cossack had been captured a 
month since in the plain between the Volga and 
the Jaick rivers. 

He had, she told her correspondent, admitted 
that he was in reality a Cossack of the Don, and 
had given his birthplace and the story of his 
marriages. There was, she further reported, no 
sign of his having been the instrument of any out- 
side power. This supposition had been mentioned 
by Voltaire ; and, in point of fact, there appears 
to be little doubt that Pugachev had been used 
by abler men than himself. In this letter Catherine 
insisted that he was merely a bold, brave and 
determined, but illiterate man, a master bandit 
whom, however, in his excesses and cruelties she 
likened to that great figure, Tamerlane. To this 
Voltaire replied that this devil of a man had then 
this in common with Genghis-Khan and Tamer- 
lane, that none of the three could write. But, he 
continued, it was always said that there were 
persons who, without even being able to sign their 
own name, had founded religions. This, wrote 
the sage, was not to the honour of human nature. 
It was the magnanimity of Catherine which now 
did that nature honour. Voltaire was referring 
to Catherine's refusal, after Pugachev, described 
as a beaten, an abject, a timorous figure, had been 
brought to Moscow in a kind of cage, to allow 
torture to be used on him. 

To have used torture would have been, for 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

those of her ministers who proposed it, the normal 
and natural proceeding. But even as her prede- 
cessor, Elizabeth, in her day, had objected to the 
employment of torture, so also did Catherine, and 
there is no reason but to believe that the senti- 
ments she, not once but frequently, expressed on 
the subject were genuine. Long since, when she 
had heard of the tortures inflicted upon Robert 
Damien after his attempt on the life of Louis XV, 
she had written to Sir Charles Hanbury- Williams 
that the treatment of that wretched man was so 
horrible that it had made her hair stand on end. 
She had expressed something of the same feeling 
in her memoirs when speaking of the function of 
Peter Shuvalov as torturer general, he being head 
of the secret chancellery. And she had been as 
vehement as Voltaire in the indignation they had 
expressed to one another at the cruelties inflicted 
upon La Barre and Juan Galas when they had 
flouted the church. Something must be allowed 
for Catherine's perpetual insistence, particularly 
in her correspondence with Voltaire and others, 
upon her elevation of thought. But it is at least 
probable she really disliked torture. She was also 
too shrewd not to be aware of its effect upon public 
opinion. 

There was, in fact, no need for drastic measures. 
Pugachev had had his hour. But the rebellion 
had failed ; and in defeat, awaiting execution, he 
was a pitiful figure. He had never been of the 
stature of a Genghis or a Tamerlane, to whom 

168 



PUGAGHEV 

Catherine and Voltaire had likened him; nor had 
he attained that of a great national leader. It was 
General Bibikov who had seen his true importance. 
Pugachev had appeared as a flaming symbol ; and 
was to go down in history as one; a symbol of 
forces that would eventually bring about the 
collapse of the Russian social system of the days of 
Catherine. 

But those incipient forces were, for the time 
being, driven underground. The terror excited 
by the news of the movements of Pugachev's men, 
particularly in the districts east and south of 
Moscow, with their traditional memories of the 
coming of Mongol hordes, was very real ; while 
government and landowners, horrified at the 
political implication of the rebellion, hardened 
their hearts and drew together in defence of both 
against serfdom. Almost everywhere, in the subse- 
quent years, the lot of the worker grew harder. 



Chapter Eight 

Potemkin The Crimea Turkey 

IN 1776 there arrived in St. Petersburg, as 
English Ambassador, Sir James Harris, after- 
wards Earl of Malmesbury. Sir James had 
previously been envoy in Berlin and his despatches 
from that capital had revealed his capacity for 
receiving and conveying impressions of persons 
and situations. His reports from Russia were of 
equal or even greater value in the pen pictures 
given of Catherine, the court and the policies 
pursued. In the Empress he saw much of what his 
predecessors had seen : the impressive bearing of 
a woman who had no claims to real beauty; the 
dignity and yet ease of manner; the power of 
pleasing ; and the ability behind the determination 
to govern. But, arriving in Russia at a time when 
Catherine had reached her late forties, Harris 
perceived, and implied that others had perceived, 
deterioration in the Empress. Vanity and arro- 
gance, fed by constant flattery and adulation, 
often taking the subtle form of homage offered 
to her intellect and her character, had been 
doing their work. And to these had been added 
the intoxication of success. Harris saw, in the 
triumph of the Polish adventure, something which 

170 



POTEMKIN THE CRIMEA TURKEY 

had wrought damage in Catherine, for which he 
also blamed the influence of Frederick of Prussia. 
Lastly, in his analysis, the English Ambassador 
remarked on the coarsening which had come 
about as the result of immorality. Here he did 
not altogether agree with his predecessor, the 
Earl of Buckinghamshire, who had had no high 
opinion of Orlov and had expressed his disap- 
proval of the submission of the Empress, when 
the affair was over, to what he called the ill-bred 
inattention of her former lover. Sir James, on 
the other hand, believed that on the whole the 
influence of Orlov had been for good. He reserved 
his condemnation for that of the extraordinary 
man who, in the years immediately before his 
own arrival in St. Petersburg, had become 
the principal figure at court and in the 
life of Catherine. The influence of Potemkin 
was, wrote Harris to England, a bad influence. 
Gregori Potemkin was a Lithuanian, born in 
1 739, near Smolensk. After being educated at the 
university of Moscow he had entered a regiment 
of the guards, and, as one of them, had helped 
to ensure Catherine's safety on 28 June, 1762. 
For his services, he, like others, had been given 
a small estate. In 1768 he had become a 
gentleman of the household. But he was still a 
quite inconspicuous figure when, the following 
year, he quitted the court to take his 
part in the fighting on the Turkish front. 
Two years later he was once more at the court, 

171 



CATHERINE THE OREAT 

and established as favourite of the Empress. 
Of all those who won that favour, Potemkin, 
whether or no Sir James Harris was right in his 
conclusions, has been seen as the most romantic, 
the most outstanding figure. It was he around 
whom, more than any other man at Catherine's 
court, legends were to gather. A man of huge 
build, he was to go down into history as a cyclops 
the story that he lost the eye in a duel with 
Orlov has probably no foundation in fact. He 
was thirty-four years of age when his connection 
with Catherine began. She was forty-four. As 
she had done before, she had chosen a lover 
younger than herself. Of the abilities of that lover, 
estimates varied. Some saw him as a good 
soldier and an even better administrator. Others 
judged him to be a man of medium attainments 
carried to fame by his personality. Indubitably 
the glamour of that personality was to continue 
down the ages, even as it had exercised its fascina- 
tion over the Empress of Russia, not an inex- 
perienced woman when she took him as her lover. 
In her and his softer moments he was addressed 
in the letters she sent him, letters written some- 
times in Russian, sometimes in French, as her 
pigeon, her little one, her darling : all the array of 
affectionate diminutives used with particular 
effect in the Russian as in the French tongue. 
But, were he angry, he became her muscovite, 
her cossack, her ghiaour. And in his splendour 
he was her golden pheasant. The letters, intimate, 

172 



POTEMKIN THE CRIMEA' TURKEY 

revealing, were by no means confined to the times 
when the two were absent from one another. On 
the contrary, notes were sent to him daily, and 
sometimes more than once a day, when both were 
at TsarskoeSelo, where only the ground saloon, later 
known from its decoration as the Chinese room, 
separated their apartments ; or in the Winter Palace, 
where it is thought Potemkin occupied the suite of 
rooms immediately behind those of the Empress. 

This same period of the seventeen-seventies saw 
other developments in Catherine's domestic circle. 
They, too, had their significance, even though not 
shot through with the changing fiery colours 
which lit up her intercourse with the lover. 
Catherine's son, the Grand-duke Paul, had reached 
years of maturity. 

The boyhood of the Grand-duke can hardly 
have held much happiness. The attitude of his 
mother towards him was ever conditioned by 
recollections of the past : the talk of a regency ; 
the shouts for the boy at her coronation. Here 
was something which might, in moments of crisis, 
spring to life again. On his side, always kept in 
the background, the Grand-duke had justification 
for resentment against the masterful Empress- 
mother to whom he was heir when he should 
have been Emperor. It seems clear that there 
was no affection between the two to soften 
the situation; and certainly Paul himself was 
hardly, according to all accounts, a pleasing per- 
son. But he was there. He was the heir. And the 

173 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

line must be carried on. In 1 773, the Grand-duke, 
being then seventeen years of age, was married to 
a Princess of Hesse-Darmstadt. The wedding had 
a particular interest of its own in that Grimm came 
to Russia in the train of the bride, thus, like 
Diderot, making the personal contact with Cather- 
ine which Voltaire never made. But the marriage 
in itself proved none too successful. In 1776 the 
unhappy little Grand-duchess died in childbirth, 
leaving no son. Within five months Catherine had 
arranged a second marriage. Again a German 
Princess was chosen, this time from Wurtemberg, 
and this union gave Paul perhaps happiness he 
had not hitherto known. For his mother the 
events of supreme importance were the births of 
her grandsons. The elder, born in 1777, was 
named Alexander. Following on her years of 
triumph, the name had significance enough. When 
on 27 April (8 May, N.S.), 1779, a second son 
followed, the name bestowed upon him was even 
more significant. He was christened Constantine, a 
child, so the Empress told the English Ambassador, 
destined to a brilliant future. The medal struck 
to commemorate the birth showed on the one 
side the church of St. Sophia in Constantinople, 
on the other the Black Sea, and over the sea, a 
star. The eyes of the Empress-grandmother were 
indeed turning, more eagerly even than before, 
towards the Bosphorus. 

It was in December, 1777, that Voltaire, an 
old man of eighty-three, had closed a letter to 



POTEMKIN THE CRIMEA TURKEY 

Catherine with the cry: allah, allah, Catherine 
rezoul, allah ! Six months later he lay dead in Paris. 
Participation in the fantasy which hung about the 
cradle of Constantine had not been for him. But 
that fantasy had emanated from something that 
was solid. Catherine had no longer the stimulus 
of Voltaire's letters, his visions of Hero and Lean- 
der. She had, however, by her side, a most eager 
coadjutator. By 1779 Potemkin, ceasing to be 
the lover, had stepped into the part of complaisant 
friend, and more than complaisant, for he not only 
tolerated but chose Catherine's lovers, her very 
young lovers, for her. His influence he was always 
to retain. That same year Sir James Harris 
reported that Count Potemkin was supreme in the 
court circle and entirely directed it. He, himself, 
he wrote in another letter, judged it best to try 
to work through him. As for Catherine's personal 
feeling for him, she appeared, when he was 
seriously ill in 1780, like a deranged creature. 
Potemkin was the all-important friend and adviser, 
who there seems to be no doubt on this point 
was not merely supporting the imperial plans out 
of policy, but was himself swept away by the 
vision of a new Empire for Russia, an Empire 
whose capital should be either Constantinople or 
Athens. 

The vision found little or no favour with Panin. 
But that minister was fast ceasing to be of conse- 
quence. Potemkin, reported Harris, hated him; 
he was growing old; and apart from Potemkin, 

175 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

he had a rival in Alexander Bezborodko, who had 
become one of Catherine's personal secretaries 
in 1775. Bezborodko, who had been educated at 
Kiev, was an able administrator, a good historian 
and the friend of Potemkin. The best Panin could 
do was to keep in close touch with Frederick, 
by whom he was still being paid. But Catherine, 
again reported Harris, was growing tired of the 
King of Prussia. This was hardly a surprise to 
Frederick. His own remark had been that he never 
expected fidelity from Catherine, since that virtue 
was not her strong point. But in these last years 
of his reign he still thought of an alliance with 
Russia as necessary. Catherine was by no means 
so sure that it was necessary for her. It was 
Austria, not Prussia, whose lands were adjacent 
to Turkey in Europe ; she perceived that if she 
were to accomplish her plans, she must come to 
terms with Austria. 

One happening, which had occurred two years 
earlier, helped her much. A dispute had arisen 
concerning the succession to Bavaria. One claim- 
ant was Joseph of Austria, by reason of his 
marriage with the sister of the late Elector. His 
claim was opposed by Frederick, who had long 
since remarked that that young man's actions 
would bear watching and who in any case had 
no desire to see Austria united with Bavaria under 
one crown. When France refused help to 
Austria, it seemed as if Joseph must yield. Maria 
Theresa appealed to Catherine. The latter, 



POTEMKIN THE CRIMEA TURKEY 

jointly with France, secured for Austria by the 
Arbitration of Teschen in May, 1779, that part 
of Bavaria known as the Quarter of the Inn. It 
was not all Joseph had claimed and desired, but 
it was an important, even if small, accretion 
to Austrian territory. 

For Catherine, Teschen was a notable event; 
a recognition of the position to which she and the 
country over which she ruled had attained in 
the politics of Europe. It had further shown her 
as supporting Austria against Prussia. When, 
therefore, in pursuit of her own plans she made an 
approach to Joseph, she found him ready to listen. 
There was other common ground between the two. 
The Emperor, like the Empress of Russia, had 
sat at the feet of the philosophers and encyclo- 
paedists. As an enlightened despot, he had declared 
that philosophy must be the legislator of his empire. 

In the late autumn of the same year Catherine 
was writing a series of letters to Joseph in which 
there was dangled before him the prospect of a 
visit to Russia. The idea gave Joseph, interested 
in and even fascinated by Catherine and her 
Russia, pleasure. It gave considerably less pleasure 
.to Maria Theresa. That Empress was more than 
doubtful what might be the consequences to 
Austria of the visit. But 'the Mama', to use the 
title by which reference was made to her, was a 
failing woman, with only a year to live : and her 
son was gradually asserting hi$ mastery of the 
situation and of her. 

177 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

In the last week of May, 1780, Catherine, with 
Potemkin and Bezborodko in her train, went to 
Molihev in Lithuania, a town which had passed 
to Russia in the partition of 1772. Thither came 
the Emperor, travelling as Count Falkenstein. 
After five days the two imperial personages pro- 
ceeded to Smolensk. Thence Catherine returned 
to the capital, while Joseph went to Moscow. 
A few days later he was received in state in St. 
Petersburg. He had no reason to complain of the 
reception. Catherine had made great prepara- 
tions and the visitor, greeted with a profusion of 
illuminated emblems always pleasing to the 
populace as well as to the visitor was entertained 
as the court of Russia knew how to entertain an 
honoured guest. Lodged at Tsarskoe Selo, this 
guest was enchanted with everything, and found 
that the city of St. Petersburg, but more particu- 
larly the Winter Palace and the Hermitage, far 
surpassed his expectations. On his side he had 
already made a favourable impression. Catherine 
wrote to Grimm that she found her visitor both 
cultured and intelligent, and, she was pleased to 
say, a great reader of whatever he would, whether 
it were free-thinking literature or not. The book 
especially mentioned was that volume of Buffon's 
natural history, the Epoques de la Nature, which had 
appeared the previous year. But of what had 
passed between the pair Grimm received no more 
than hints. Nor had anything been made public 
when, at the end of July, the Emperor took his 



POTEMKIN THE CRIMEA TURKEY 

leave. It was, however, well known that the 
Turks were thoroughly alarmed and were making 
great military preparations; while Harris, who 
conveyed this information to England, also wrote 
that he personally believed that the coming 
together of Catherine and Joseph had struck a 
blow at the influence of the King of Prussia from 
which there would be no recovery. Frederick 
himself, although Prussia attempted reassurance, 
had already become sufficiently uneasy to ask 
Catherine to receive his heir, the Prince Frederick 
William, in St. Petersburg. The visit took place 
in September, and was not a success. 

In the meantime, Catherine and Joseph 
were once more engaged in correspondence. 
Maria Theresa was still doubtful of the wisdom 
of Austria becoming involved in what she saw 
were the far-reaching plans of Russia. But for 
her the end was now very near. She died in 
November, and her death left Joseph completely 
free to do what he would. It was not, however, 
until the following June that an understanding 
concerning Turkey was arrived at by letter 
between him and Catherine ; and it was more than 
a year later again, in September, 1782, that 
Catherine finally formulated and put forward the 
plan for the expulsion of the Turks from Europe 
and the disposal of Turkey in Europe. On her 
side it was a threefold plan. The frontier of 
Russia was to be advanced from the estuary of 
the rivers Dnieper and Bug, to which it had been 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

brought by the treaty of Kuchuk-Kainardji, 
as far westward as the river Dniester. Beyond 
the Dniester the provinces of Moldavia, Bessara- 
bia and Wallachia were to be erected into a 
kingdom to be called, harking back to imperial 
Rome, the kingdom of Dacia ; with Potemkin as 
Prince-ruler. The third and final demand was 
for an empire for Constantine, of which the capital 
should be Constantinople and which should 
include Thrace, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania 
and Northern Greece. Guarantees that this empire 
should never be united with Russia under one 
crown were promised. Austria, for her share, was 
to receive Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Dal- 
matia. The latter province was not part of 
Turkish territory but was held by the republic 
of Venice, which was to be asked for its cession 
in return for the Morea and either Cyprus or 
Crete. 

As Joseph could not but perceive, the scheme 
offered Austria much. Here was the opportunity, 
with the aid of a powerful ally, to push the 
Turks back once and for all from the lands into 
which their hordes had penetrated; to extend 
the Austrian Empire* into those provinces ; and to 
replace the Moslem mosques by churches of the 
Roman communion. But he also did not fail to 
see that, though the actual territory to be acquired 
by Russia was, comparatively speaking, modest in 
extent, there was no modesty at all about the 
creation of the kingdom for Potemkin and the 

1 80 



POtfEMKIN THE CRIMEA TURKEY 

Empire for Constantine. And who could say 
what would be the course of future events were 
these projects fulfilled, or what would be the con- 
sequences to Austria? Joseph, out of reach of the 
personal influence of Catherine, saw with regard 
to Austria what Frederick had seen with regard 
to Prussia : that the interests of his country were 
not in all circumstances identical with those of 
Russia. Negotiations were begun. But no treaty 
was signed. Apart from Joseph's hesitancy over 
some of the provisions, there also intervened the 
difficulty, a difficulty which had occurred before 
in the history of Europe, of the matter of preced- 
ence. Joseph was not in the least inclined to abate 
his claim to be the only Emperor in Europe, he 
who stood for the Holy Roman Empire. Cather- 
ine, with the imperial title still comparatively 
new in Russia, but a title the meaning of which 
was as significant to her as to the man who had 
adopted it, was not prepared to take second place, 
even in a document. Nevertheless, to quote Mr. 
Holland Rose, the two most daring rulers in 
Europe had come to an understanding which 
foreboded a general upheaval. 

That that general upheaval was momentarily 
delayed was due to Catherine's insistence on a 
breathing space. In this she may well have had 
to combat the impetuosity of her lieutenant. In 
many quarters it was thought that Potemkin had 
had the principal hand in drawing up the plan, 
which, by reason of its third and most significant 

181 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

proposal, was known as the Greek Project. Whether 
this were so or not, it was such as to meet with 
his ardent approval ; and an equally ardent wish 
that it should be at once implemented. Catherine 
knew that there was much to be done in the way 
of preparation, military and naval within Russia 
and diplomatic without, before an effective move 
could be made. 

But she and Potemkin had long had another 
plan, a supplementary plan, in mind; and this 
could be, and was, proceeded with. The treaty of 
Kuchuk-Kainardji had left the Crimean penin- 
sula in the ambiguous position of being under 
Turkish rule, yet with a kind of nominal inde- 
pendence. Russia, however, had taken care that 
there should be infiltration of a great deal of 
Russian influence. By 1 782 the Khan had become 
little more than a weak puppet of that country. 
Sometime early in 1783 complete annexation of 
the peninsula had been decided upon, and Potem- 
kin had probably already had his secret instruc- 
tions. He did not, however, immediately proceed 
south. It is possible that Panin had uttered some 
remonstrances. But on n April (22 April, N.S.), 
Harris wrote to England that Panin had, that 
same morning, died of apoplexy ; and added that 
it was now said that Prince Potemkin would 
certainly leave a* once for the Crimea, This was 
so. Potemkin, with his men, began operations 
around the Black Sea and across the Perekop early 
in May. The ground had been well prepared; 

182 



POTEMKIN THE CRIMEA TURKEY 

and there was little serious opposition. On 2 1 July, 
1783, an official proclamation announced that the 
Tauride Peninsula was now part of the Russian 
Empire. In the next year the cession was acknow- 
ledged by Turkey. 

Potemkin entered on his great epoch. He may 
already have been given estates within the 
recently acquired district known as the Ukraine. 
It is certain that he now became one of the great 
landowners in that fertile region of the good black 
earth; with gardens laid out by a gardener 
brought from England surrounding his house 
that even after his death were to be quoted as 
the wonder of southern Russia. 

From these estates he directed what was 
nothing more nor less than a reconstruction of the 
surrounding regions, and of the peninsula of the 
Crimea itself. The exact personal responsibility 
for that work must always remain a matter of 
surmise, depending on the view of Potemkin's 
ability. That he was a conspicuous figure through- 
out is evident. He also, however, had the help of 
experts. Among them was Professor Pallas of 
Berlin, learned in the natural sciences, who some 
years earlier had been invited to St. Petersburg 
by Catherine, and who now, with estates of his 
own in the Ukraine, was established as scientific 
adviser in the reorganization that was taking 
place. 

Both in the Ukraine and in the Crimea the 
nature of the soil and the geographical situation 

C.G. ? 183 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

offered great possibilities for the development on 
the one hand of agriculture, and on the other of 
trade and commerce. Both branches of work were 
fostered; and two hindrances which might have 
stood in the way were overcome. The more law- 
less of the Cossacks had been partly but by no 
means completely subdued after the rebellion of 
Pugachev;* they still remained a threat to law 
and order. As far as possible settlement was 
encouraged on the lines that had already been 
adopted, of their own free will, by the Cossacks 
of the Don; the Cossack regiments were also 
encouraged ; and if the discipline became stricter, 
the men composing those regiments retained much 
of their individuality, as did also those who settled 
on the land. Punitive expeditions dealt with the 
wilder elements, of whom the survivors largely fled 
into and across the Caucasus, and the adjacent 
regions. But for effective development much 
labour, both agricultural and industrial, was re- 
quired ; and that labour was in great part lacking. 
To remedy this in the first instance a system of 
colonization, both free and forced, was pursued. 
Groups, mainly of the Slavonic race, were brought 
from Austria and elsewhere. A number of German 
colonies were also founded. After this, ordinary 
labour was supplied by the introduction of serf- 
dom, as it prevailed elsewhere but to which the 
Ukraine had hitherto been a stranger. 

But no one knew better than Catherine and her 
advisers that defence against enemies from without 

184 



POTEMKIN THE CRIMEA TURKEY 

had to be provided. The southern shore of the 
Black Sea was still held by the Turks ; even as they 
held at the western end the narrow strait that was 
the Bosphorus ; and Constantinople. The western 
shore too, was the frontier of Turkey in Europe ; 
and, on the northern shore, that frontier still 
extended as far as the river Dnieper. But on the 
estuary of that river and the Bug, being in Russian 
hands, a fortress had .been in building since 1779. 
This fortress, known as Kherson, and the town 
which sprung up on the site of the village where 
it stood, were completed under Potemkin. In 
the Crimea an even greater fortress and port 
were planned. Shortly after the annexation a 
survey of the coast had been ordered, mainly 
with a view to the erection of defences. It is said 
that the selection of the bay of Aktier, with its 
tiny town, in the extreme south-west corner of the 
peninsula, was made by Catherine herself. It 
may well be one of those cases in which she took 
what the experts had told her and made it her 
own. The transformation of the bay into a port, 
and the building of the fortress town proceeded 
apace. Here Potemkin had the services of Rear- 
Admiral Mackenzie, a Scotsman who, like his 
fellows Greig and Elphinstone, had been long in 
service in the Russian navy; and Colonel Upton, 
a military expert. But ranking above either was 
the naval architect and engineer, Sir Samuel 
Bentham, who had already been in Russia for two 
or three years ; and now came to superintend the 

185 



CATHERINE THE OREAT 

new works of harbour and fortress that were, in 
1 784, to be given by Catherine's express command 
the name compounded from the Russian version 
of the words augustus and polis, which resolved 
itself into Sevastopol. There, while this great 
work was rising on its foundations, Sir Samuel 
received a visit from his more famous brother, 
Jeremy, who, while enjoying many conversations 
with Potemkin the enjoyment is said to have 
been mutual wrote the greater part of his 
Defence of Usury and planned his Panopticon. 

The naval experts, who included Greig, had more 
to do than to superintend the construction of 
fortresses and harbours at Kherson and Sevastopol. 
The building of battleships was also proceeded 
with, and keels were laid down at both 
places. 

AD this in no wise assuaged the anger of the 
Turks at what had been done and their suspicion 
and alarm at what might be intended to be done. 
Neither anger nor alarm had been lessened when 
Heraclius, the ruler of Georgia, had placed him- 
self and his country under the protection of 
Russia, an action which the Turks interpreted, 
not without justification, as a threat to the whole 
of the Caucasus. Nor were the Turks, whose 
interests were immediately threatened, the only 
nation to experience perturbation. The seizure of 
the Crimea was probably acquiesced in by Europe 
generally, and in many cases approved, as a 
necessary course of action for the safety and wel- 

186 



POTEMKIN THE CRIMEA TURKEY 

fare, particularly the trading welfare, of Russia. 
The question of further advances, of what had 
been planned between Catherine and Joseph, was 
another matter. Europe had once again to con- 
sider the situation in the eastern Mediterranean. 
In the meantime, while the diplomatic pot 
was nearly at the boiling-point, Catherine and 
Potemkin planned the show that was to set the seal 
on the triumph in the Crimea and to be remem- 
bered in history when much else was forgotten. 
The Empress of Russia would make a triumphal 
progress to the Crimea ; and would take with her, 
besides the train of ministers, including Bezbor- 
odko, nobles and attendants, both the French 
Ambassador, S6gur, who had taken up his 
appointment in 1785, and the English envoy, 
Alleyne Fitzherbert, afterwards Lord St. Helens, 
who had come to replace Sir James Harris. More 
than this, Stanislas Augustus had been invited to 
journey from Poland, and Joseph himself from 
Austria, to meet the company as they drew near 
the Black Sea. It was to be at once a political tour, 
a pleasure trip, and a diplomatic congress. Certain 
figures, however, who might have been expected 
to be among those who accompanied Catherine 
were conspicuously absent. She had wished to have 
with her the two grandsons* Alexander and Con- 
stantine. She had not proposed to invite their 
parents. For once the Grand-duke Paul and the 
duchess triumphed over the Empress-mother. 
It was, they said, impossible for the grandsons to 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

go with her, as both were suffering from a slight 
attack of smallpox. 

New Year's Day of 1 787 was spent at the Winter 
Palace, after which the court went to Tsarskoe Selo, 
where the final preparations for the journey were 
made, and whither came S6gur and Fitzherbert. 
The former, who kept a full diary of all the happen- 
ings, found the days before the departure trying, 
partly on account of various mishaps, which much 
annoyed Catherine and so those around her : and 
partly because he had to struggle with his 
colleague, Fitzherbert, who, always a delicate man 
prone to melancholy, was sunk in despair at 
having to leave behind a lady of St. Petersburg 
upon whom he had set his affections. But at length, 
on 1 8 January, fourteen great sleighs, with 
between one and two hundred lesser sleighs 
following, left Tsarskoe Selo. 

The imperial sleigh, drawn by thirty horses, was 
sufficiently large to be divided into three com- 
partments. With the Empress were her ladies-in- 
waiting, her equerries and the Grand-chancellor, 
a Shuvalov, nephew to Ivan of that name. In the 
second sleigh were S6gur and Fitzherbert. The 
remaining sleighs followed close behind and, wrote 
Sgur, all appeared to bound through the icy 
air. Daylight at this time of year lasted no more 
than six hours but as the procession sped on the 
darkness was illuminated by the blaze of beacons. 
The halt for sleeping was usually at a house, 
although sometimes the sleighs may have served 

1 88 



POTEMKIN THE CRIMEA TURKEY 

as bed-chambers. All went, as Sgur recorded, 
with exactitude. At six in the morning the 
Empress rose she was always an early riser 
transacted business and received her travelling 
companions. The start for the day was made at 
nine o'clock; at two o'clock came the halt for 
dinner and at seven in the evening for supper; 
after which no more travelling was done, but the 
Empress either worked or called on some of her 
companions to join in games such as charades or 
bout rimes, the popular amusements of the day. 
The food, the wine, the fruit provided, recorded 
the French Ambassador, left nothing to be desired, 
but he grumbled at what were, in his opinion, 
overheated houses, and much disliked the long 
hours of darkness. 

Kiev was reached on 9 February, and here or a 
little earlier, Potemkin made his appearance. He 
did not, however, find a lodging in the palace 
which had been prepared for Catherine. To the 
astonishment of many, including the French 
Ambassador, he had chosen to establish himself 
in the Lavra or monastery by the cathedral, to 
which Catherine in her youth had paid her visit. 
Further details aver that instead of wearing 
uniform Potemkin also chose to appear on several 
occasions in a loose robe and unshaven. The 
interest of the episode is in the light it throws upon 
one aspect of the man. Sir James Harris had 
remarked earlier upon his fondness for visiting 
churches. In certain moods he would speak of 

189 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

becoming a monk. The temperament that, from 
a mundane existence lived to the fall, even to 
excess, swung over with equal violence to the 
cloister, and then, changing its purpose, swung 
back again, was commoner in earlier centuries 
then it was in the eighteenth. But Segur was right 
when he summed up this Lithuanian who may, it 
is sometimes said, have had eastern blood in him 
and who had identified himself with a Byzantine 
enterprise, as a mass of contradictions. 

The stay at Kiev extended over six weeks, for 
it was necessary to wait until the ice of the Dnieper 
broke up, since when the journey was resumed it 
was to be by galleys. It was not until i May that 
the procession went on its way, in gaily decked 
vessels with watching and cheering crowds on the 
river banks. Travel by the great waterways was 
common in Russia; but nothing, as S^gur drily 
remarked, could have been less like ordinary 
travel than this. Potemkin would hardly have 
needed to import crowds by force to survey the 
imperial progress ; and the tales subsequently told 
of the simulated villages may reflect nothing more 
than that the preparations of all kinds that 
were normally made for the benefit of royalty 
even as booths had been set up along the road 
from St. Petersburg to Moscow when Catherine 
and her mother had arrived in Russia were, in 
this case, unusually elaborate and even exotic. 

At Kaniev, six days' journey down the Dnieper 
from Kiev, Stanislas Augustus was waiting to 

190 



POTEMKIN THE CRIMEA TURKEY 

greet the Empress. Somewhat further on, came 
the meeting with Joseph who, with his own 
accompanying ministers and attendants, joined 
the procession, which proceeded to Kherson. That 
town was entered under an arch bearing the 
inscription, not in Russian, but in Greek : the way 
to Byzantium. In the newly constructed harbour 
three battleships were launched. All might well 
have given Joseph food for thought. But Catherine 
as well as he were now rudely reminded that that 
way was not yet open by the appearance outside 
the harbour, in Turkish waters, of a Turkish 
flotilla. The intention to cross the estuary had to 
be abandoned. The climax of the journey was, 
however, at hand. The Perekop was traversed and 
the Crimea attained. After five days during 
which Segur and Fitzherbert were lodged in the 
same tent, lived together, as the former wrote, in 
perfect unity; and wrote for their respective 
countries reports which were entirely contradic- 
tory one of the other came the state drive to the 
Theodora of the Greeks, which was Inkerman, and 
so to survey the harbour of Sevastopol, with forty 
ships of war lying in the bay. This now fortified 
harbour was, the Empress of Russia is reported 
to have said to the Emperor, only two days' 
sail from Constantinople. Joseph was not pleased. 
Nevertheless, it is pointed out by his biographers 
that, as in his earlier visit, Catherine was again 
able to sway his opinions by the force of her 
personality, when his judgment would have held 

C.G. 7 IQI 



CATHERINE, THE GREAT 

him back. That she had revivified his promise of 
support in any Turkish expedition she undertook 
there is little doubt. 

Returning from the Crimea, the Emperor took 
his leave. Catherine proceeded towards Moscow. 
It was intended that the triumph should continue, 
and at first it was so. At Poltava a splendid show 
was staged by Potemkin in commemoration of 
the victory of Peter the Great; at Kharkov, where 
he left the Empress, he presented her with a rope of 
pearls and she, with many gifts, gave him also the 
title of Prince of Tauris. Already, since 1783, the 
palace identified with that name had been rising 
in Smolny, to the east of St. Petersburg, an 
offering, as witnessed the inscription over the 
entrance, from the Empress to Potemkin in 
gratitude. The medal struck in commemoration 
of the journey showed, on one side, the bust of 
Potemkin wearing Roman armour; on the 
other, a map of the route followed. 

At Orel another ceremony was arranged and 
swords were presented to the leading personages 
in the train of the Empress. But the brightness of 
the day was passing and clouds were on the 
horizon. The huge extent of Russia, the lack of 
organization and co-ordination, rendered the coun- 
try peculiarly vulnerable to catastrophe by disease 
or famine. In this case it was famine. The har- 
vests of the previous year had not been good. As 
the Empress and her retinue moved north it was 
now July evidence of shortage of grain and conse- 

192 



POTEMKIN THE CRIMEA TURKEY 

qucntly of bread was everywhere. Worse than this, 
reports were received that the prospects for the 
coming harvest were very bad indeed. Catherine 
reached Moscow to find the city in the grip of 
famine prices and part, at least, of the populace 
on the verge of starvation. Celebrations which 
had been planned to take place in the Kremlin 
were abandoned. The imperial procession moved 
on to reach Tsarskoe Selo on 22 July. 



193 



Chapter Nine 

Turkey and Poland Again 

HPHE French Ambassador had been of the 
* opinion that the progress to the Crimea 
had been intended by Potemkin to quicken 
Catherine's desire to spread her conquests further 
in the direction of Constantinople. But even had 
she not been contemplating a further period for 
preparation, the famine may well have forced on 
her the conviction that the moment for a military 
onslaught was not yet. Challenged the Turks,* 
however, she had. An envoy had beeti sent to 
Constantinople to demand that the action of the 
ruler of Georgia should be endorsed by the 
cession of that country to Russia; that Bessarabia 
should likewise be handed over ; and that Russia 
should be permitted to establish hereditary 
governors in Wallachia and Moldavia. 

These demands were, for the Turks, the 
culminating threat in a series of attacks upon 
their empire by Russia under Catherine; a 
series in which there stood out first and foremost 
the provisions of Kuchuk-Kainardji ; then the 
seizure of the Crimea, followed by the imperial 
journey, the symbolism of which the Turks were 
fully able to interpret; the question of Georgia; 

194 



TURKEY AND POLAND AGAIN 

and, not least, the presence of Russian agents 
through the Moslem realm, even in Egypt. 
Turkey believed the time for action had come. In 
recent years that country had been experiencing 
one of their periodic revivals in strength under a 
vigorous sultan, revivals which had so often had 
a disconcerting effect upon Europe. Even as 
Catherine had neared St. Petersburg the Sultan 
Abdul Hamid had, on 15 July (26 July, N.S.), 
1787, informed the Russian envoy in Constantin- 
ople that the Russian consuls in Jassy, in 
Bucharest and in Alexandria must be recalled; 
that Heraclius of Georgia must again become a 
vassal of Turkey ; that the Turks must have right 
of search over all Russian ships on the Black Sea. 
*Three weeks later a manifesto to the Turkish 
people had added the annexation of the Crimea 
must be avenged and the peninsula restored to 
Turkey. In those three weeks war had been 
decided upon. On 5 August (13 August, N.S.) 
the Russian envoy had been summoned into the 
presence of the Grand Vizier and thence removed 
to the prison of the Seven Towers. On 12 Septem- 
ber (23 September, N.S.) a manifesto announcing 
a state of war with Turkey was read in the 
Russian churches. 

Whether or no the Turks were thus wise in 
forcing events was the subject of much controversy 
among diplomatists at the time ; and among diplo- 
matic historians later. They would have to carry 
on the fight alone. True, the old order in France 

195 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

still stood for the traditional policy of support of 
the Porte; and, in St. Petersburg, S6gur never 
ceased to urge upon Catherine she was fond of 
the French Ambassador and would take a good 
deal from him that the fall of the empire she 
called barbaric, an adjective the use of which in 
that connection he did not dispute, would disinte- 
grate all Europe. But the year was 1 787. The old 
order in France was about to disappear for ever ; 
and the government whom S6gur represented was 
in no position to do anything except to keep a 
certain number of officers and a few men in 
Constantinople. A contemporary pamphlet accus- 
ing the Turks of lack of military judgment 
pointed out that they, even if successful, could 
never reach St. Petersburg, whereas Russia had 
but to win two battles and then would appear in 
Constantinople. On the other hand that Turkey 
should have acted thus promptly shook the Russian 
authorities. That Catherine herself was perturbed 
was undeniable. A Russian diarist recorded that 
when the manifesto was read on 12 September she 
was seen to weep. But he added that the immed- 
iate cause of her tears was the absence of Potemkin, 
upon whose advice, he said, she had depended for 
thirteen years. She had no fear of the outcome of 
the struggle, for she was confident of victory. 
What she had wished was postponement. 

Potemkin was in the south, where he was in 
command of one of the two Russian armies, and 
with Potemkin was Suvorov. 

196 



TURKEY AND POLAND AGAIN 

The first event was a disaster to the Russian 
fleet which had been built at Sevastopol. In the 
third week of September, having come out of 
harbour, at the command of Potemkin, to seek 
and engage the Turkish fleet, it was scattered and 
in part destroyed by a terrible gale, one vessel 
falling into the hands of the Turks. Potemkin 
was once more true to himself as a man of moods. 
He who had urged on war in a kind of intoxication 
now wrote to Catherine in deep depression, 
and even referred to the possible necessity, since 
protection by water had gone, for evacuating 
the Crimea. To which Catherine, as cool in 
pressing forward, now that the die was cast, 
as she had been in holding back, Bringing her 
own energy to bear on the despondent general, 
replied with exhortations to rouse himself and 
proceed with the campaign. Even as the first 
letters passed from one to the other, the campaign 
was proceeding. Within a week of the catastrophe 
to the Russian fleet the Turks had struck at 
Kinburn. 

At Kinburn was Suvorov, who, since August, 
had been looking to the defences of that frontier 
fortress. The skill with which he allowed the 
Turks to land on the promontory from small boats, 
protected by the Turkish fleet, and invest the 
fortress; the desperate triple bayonet charge of 
his men, aided by Cossack horsemen who harassed 
the enemy from without ; the final destruction of 
the Turkish army ; became a matter of history. 

197 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

Catherine was overjoyed, as she might well be. 
The guard to the Crimea held. Now the Turks 
must be attacked in their own Turkish waters 
and in their own formidable frontier fortress of 
Ozchakov, which commanded the estuary of the 
Bug and the Dnieper from the west. Once, for a 
short time, Ozchakov had been in Russian hands, 
when, in 1738, it had fallen to assault; only to be 
evacuated and restored to Turkey by treaty the 
following year. 

The attack could not be made at once and 
in the interval the correspondence between the 
Empress and Potemkin shows him, as Bruckner 
points out, again and again sinking into lethargy. 
He chose, it was said, to spend most of his time 
studying the works of Fleury, the French historian 
and divine who had been confessor to Louis XV 
Potemkin's library ultimately formed the basis 
of the library of the University of Kazan. However 
sympathetic to the pursuit of reading, Catherine 
had once more to urge her lieutenant to action ; 
and, presently Potemkin, whether deservedly or 
not, recovered much of his standing when early 
in June, 1788, the restored Russian fleet was 
victorious over the Turkish fleet in the waters off 
Ozchakov. As July drew to a close all was ready 
for the assault on the fortress. It proved to be a 
long-drawn-out assault, interspersed on the 
Russian side by bitter and often violent disputes 
between Potemkin and Suvorov, always antagon- 
istic one to the other. The Turkish forces held 

198 



TURKEY AND POLAND AGAIN 

out until 6 December (17 December N.S.) when 
the fortress fell at last amid scenes of fearful 
carnage. Suvorov had now been removed and 
Potemkin had the honours of the victory; 
Catherine among other rewards invested him 
with the Grand Order of St. George, always 
coveted and heretofore denied him. 

In the meantime Joseph of Austria, true to his 
promise, had in February, 1 788, declared war on 
Turkey. An Austrian army, not as well equipped 
as it might have been, had advanced with some 
slight success into Bosnia. During the next year 
further advances were made: and siege laid to 
Belgrade. In this year of 1789 Abdul Hamid died. 
The war, however, continued. A Russian army 
had some successes on the line of the river 
Pruth. Potemkin besieged and took the fortress 
of Akkerman at the mouth of the Dniester. The 
outstanding event was the fall to Russia of Ismail 
on the northern bank of the Danube ; whiqh was 
followed by the seizure of the little coastal fortress 
called Hadchibei. 

All seemed to be going well for Russia, and 
for her ally. Yet the successes could hardly be 
described as sweeping. Progress had been very 
slow and had not been quickened by the want of 
agreement between the Russian and Austrian 
generals. Moreover, Russia had had to direct part 
of her forces elsewhere, to the north, to meet 
invasion from Sweden. 

Gustavus III, King of Sweden, nephew through 

199 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

his mother of Frederick the Great, ambitious, 
vigorous and restless, had, since his accession in 
1772, been determined to restore the glories of his 
country. Now, seeing Russia embroiled with 
Turkey, he believed that the moment had come 
to avenge the humiliation that Sweden had 
suffered at the hands of Peter the Great. The 
early summer of 1 788 had seen a sharp interchange 
of notes between the two countries. Gustavus had 
asked for Finland and Karelia to be handed over 
to Sweden; coupling with this the demand that 
the Crimea should be given back to Turkey. On 
the rejection of his notes, the Swedish king 
ordered an attack on Russia by land and by sea, 
towards Finland to the north and along the Baltic 
coastline to the south. During 1 789 these attacks 
had been held; at the cost of weakening the 
Russian front against Turkey. When in the spring 
of 1 790, the Swedish fleet, in spite of a reverse off 
Revel, drew near to Cronstadt and the roar of the 
cannon could be heard in St. Petersburg, there 
was something like a panic in the capital. At one 
juncture Bezborodko was reported to be in tears. 
Catherine on the other hand announced that she 
was finding great consolation in reading Plutarch. 
But salvation was at hand. Penetrating too far 
into one of the inlets of the Russian coastline, the 
Swedish fleet allowed itself to be completely 
hemmed in by the Russian fleet; and in die sea 
fight which followed suffered an overwhelming loss 
in both ships and men. St. Petersburg was saved. 

200 



TURKEY AND POLAND AGAIN 

Gustavus, who now had Denmark, the hereditary 
enemy of Sweden, stirred up by Catherine, on 
his flank, saw his objects could not be attained and 
was ready for peace. So, her gaze fixed elsewhere, 
was Catherine. On 3 August (14 August, N.S.), 
1790, a treaty was signed at Verela which left 
the position as it was before hostilities had 
commenced. 

The war begun by Sweden had thus in, one 
sense been entirely indecisive. But Russia's efforts 
in the south-east had been hampered and before 
the treaty with Gustavus had been signed the 
alliance with Austria had been shattered by death. 
Joseph II had died on 10 February, having, as he 
himself said bitterly on his death-bed, failed in all 
he had tried to do. To Catherine he had been 
consistently true ; and it was to his fidelity to her 
that his family circle attributed most of his misfor- 
tunes. His brother and successor Leopold had no 
intention of treading the same path. Austria did 
little or nothing more against Turkey, although it 
was not until August, 1791, that the two countries 
concluded a peace that gave nothing to either 
side. 

In the meantime events elsewhere in Europe 
were having their repercussions on Russia and 
the Russian-Turkish war. 

Catherine had laid the blame for the onslaught 
on Russia by Sweden not so much upon the 
shoulders of the Swedish king as upon those of 
William Pitt, now in his seventh year as Prime 

20 1 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

Minister of England. "As Mr! Pitt," she said, 
" wishes to chase me from St. Petersburg, I hope 
he will allow me to take refuge in Constantinople." 
This latter was the last thing desired by Pitt. 
The belief of the Empress that he had incited 
Sweden to move against her, was, it was generally 
agreed, without any foundation. Gustavus had 
required no stimulus other than his own ambition. 
But Catherine was not in error in seeing in Pitt 
an opponent to her principal plan. 

Hitherto the attitude of England to the advance 
of Russia towards the eastern end of the , 
Mediterranean and Constantinople had been that 
expressed earlier by William Pitt the elder, 
reinforced by the growing feeling that the Turks 
were a race of decadent barbarians who had no 
place in Europe. But Chatham's son was looking 
at the matter from another angle. He had reached 
the conclusion that the occupation of Constantin- 
ople by Russia ; that country's further advance into 
the Mediterranean; should either or both these 
things come about, might well be prejudicial to the 
political and commercial interests of England. At 
the same time Pitt was inclined towards an alliance 
with Prussia, an alliance strongly urged by Sir 
James Harris, now ambassador at The Hague, as a 
counterpoise to France and to French policy, 
which threatened the independence of Holland. 
Prussia, on her side, where Frederick William had, 
in 1786, succeeded Frederick the Great, was 
resentful of the way in which Catherine had 

202 



TURKEY AND POLAND AGAIN 

transferred her friendship from Prussia to Austria, 
and had no liking for the coming together of the 
latter country and Russia. When therefore, in 
1788 Pitt for England and the Foreign Minister 
Hertsberg for Prussia had concluded the Triple 
Alliance to which the United Provinces were the 
third party, both had had in mind the necessity 
of putting some check upon the ambitions of 
Russia and Austria, although the primary object 
of the alliance had been the safety of the third ad- 
herent. Prussia cherished an additional hope. Her 
king and minister were determined, if possible, 
to obtain for their country the towns of Thorn and 
Dantzig which had been denied to Frederick the 
Great. For this aim Pitt had no sympathy. He 
had no wish to see Prussia aggrandized. Nor, as 
he had told Hertsberg bluntly in 1 790, did he wish 
to precipitate war with Russia ; much less a general 
European war. His object was rather to act with 
Prussia in hindering Russia's advance without the 
break which would, all else apart, damage English 
trade. Ambassadors from England in St. Peters- 
burg had, over years, been instructed to impress 
upon the imperial circle the advisability, particu- 
larly with regard to naval and commercial 
interests, of friendship with the country they 
represented. 

Catherine, however, was of the opinion that 
England needed Russia rather than the reverse. 
The opposition of Pitt was to the great enterprise 
upon which her heart had for years been^ set. 

203 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

She was aware that in his opposition the Prime 
Minister had the support of the King of England 
the view taken by George III of Catherine's 
probable fidelity was that which had been expressed 
by Frederick the Great ; and the royal anger when 
Harris, on her instructions, had put forward a 
request for the Garter for Potemkin was said to 
have been unbridled. But the Empress of Russia 
had also long been aware that in Pitt's opponent, 
Charles Fox, was one who was ready to support 
Russia against Turkey, and to use the issue as a 
cudgel wherewith to belabour his adversary. 
When, in 1788, the king had his second attack of 
insanity, the hopes of Catherine and of Fox had 
risen high. George had recovered and those hopes 
had been dashed. But what came now to be known 
as the eastern question was being more and more 
looked upon as an ethical, as well as a political 
issue. The expulsion from Europe of the 
* Asiatic horde', the savage and inhuman 
infidels, as Edmund Burke called them, seemed 
to many a moral duty. When, on 29 March, 
1791, Pitt moved in the Commons a proposal in 
an address to the King, based on a convention, 
made at Reichenbach between Prussia and 
Austria, now reconciled, that Russia should be 
invited to accede to the peace which Austria 
was about to conclude with Turkey, and that all 
conquests should be restored, he received only 
lukewarm approbation from his own side. Nor 
was the Prime Minister, who dwelt chiefly upon 

204 



TURKEY AND POLAND AGAIN 

the desirability of friendship between England 
and Prussia, the necessity for the withdrawal of 
Russia behind the line terminated by the fortress 
of Ozchakov, and the return of that fortress to 
Turkey, at his best. With the ministerial majority 
that had been given him in 1784, he could carry 
his proposals ; but in this debate, no less than in 
that which followed on 15 April, the force, the 
distinction, the eloquence, were to be found in 
the speeches on the other side; the speeches 
of Coke of Norfolk, of Edmund Burke, above 
all, of Charles Fox; with their appeal for the 
disappearance of the Turk from Europe, and, by 
consequence, for support for Russia. In particular 
the two great orations of Fox moved Catherine to 
enthusiasm. She wrote to the Russian ambassador 
that she wished to have sent out to her the best 
bust obtainable of that statesman. She proposed, 
she said, to give it a place between those of Cicero 
and Demosthenes. 

In spite of the satisfaction the report of the 
debates must have given Catherine, her mind 
was now nevertheless turned towards peace, 
although, as she wrote to Potemkin, the prospect 
was as a stone lying on her heart. England might 
not be prepared to countenance armed inter- 
vention, nor even the sending of a fleet to the 
Mediterranean. Prussia, on the other hand, was 
assuming a threatening attitude; had spoken 
openly of war. And in France, the tide of 
revolution was rising. When Catherine learned 

205 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

of the flight, in June, of the king and queen 
from Paris, their capture at Varennes, and the 
forced return to the capital, she was profoundly 
shocked. The violent laying of hands on royal 
personages by a rabble was an offence to her 
sense of fitness ; an action not to be tolerated by 
an Empress autocrat, from whom all law derived. 
A few months earlier other news had come from 
Poland, which caused her intense disquiet. She 
wanted her hands free. Potemkin was ordered 
to commence negotiations for peace forthwith. 
But fate was about to deal her a personal 
blow. 

Throughout the latter part of 1790, and the 
first months of 1791, Potemkin had chosen to 
abandon the battlefront for St. Petersburg, where 
he had withdrawn into inertia ; out of which he 
emerged at intervals to give great entertainments 
in his Tauride Palace ; until, shortly after one such, 
given on 21 April for his Empress, he, having heard 
of the successes of one of his rivals, had returned to 
the fighting line. He and Catherine never saw 
each other again. In October, travelling in the 
course of the peace negotiations, through Mol- 
davia, he was suffering from the malaria incident 
to that region. The fever rose, the result, it was 
said, of his having in his illness insisted on 
devouring a whole goose; and he expired by the 
wayside. His body was taken to Kherson, the 
town which he had seen rise from its foundations ; 
and there, in the cathedral, his tomb was 

206 



TURKEY AND POLAND AGAIN 

eventually placed. Catherine wrote to Grimm: 
* My pupil, I may say my idol, the Prince 
Potemkin, has died in Moldavia. 9 

The negotiations were continued by Bezborodko; 
and on 29 December (9 January, 1792, N.S.) 
the treaty of peace was signed at Jassy. Under 
the terms of the agreement, the Russian frontier 
was advanced to the river Dniester, with the 
fortress of Ozchakov in Russian hands. The 
Porte recognized the annexation of the Crimea. 
The terms of the treaty of Kuchuk-Kainardji 
were endorsed. On the other hand, Turkey 
took back Moldavia. It was not an outstanding 
triumph for Russia, as had been the earlier 
treaty. Nor did it correspond with the grandiose 
scheme with which the war had begun. Con- 
stantinople, its mosques and its sultan, remained 
remote. The kingdom of Dacia, over which 
Potemkin was to have reigned, was still the 
impalpable dream. Nevertheless, the Russian 
frontier had crept forward from river to river; 
and on the site of Hadchibei a new fortress was 
constructed, with a new town, a seaport springing 
up around the fortifications, a town which by 
1795 was already known as Odessa, named after 
an ancient settlement close by, which in its turn 
had taken its name from Odessus in Thrace. 

And the frontier was now to be advanced in 
another region. Even as the negotiations for the 
treaty with Turkey were being conducted, 
Catherine was thinking of Poland. Once more the 

207 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

fate of that country was to be intertwined with the 
Turkish question; and also to be affected by 
happenings elsewhere, over which it had no 
control. 

In spite of the partition with loss of territory, 
Poland had remained after 1772 a considerable 
state, even though with but a puppet king. For 
the next sixteen years her history had been 
uneventful ; her policy rigidly subordinated to that 
of Russia. At the same time there had been no 
amelioration in the condition of the serfs ; and 
despite Catherine's protection of the Dissendents, 
a great deal of religious intolerance had continued 
to make itself felt. Between 1788 and 1791 
yet another movement for reform had risen 
to the surface. The more progressive thinkers 
were talking in terms of a reconstruction of the 
Diet; of toleration of social improvements. A 
wave of enthusiasm swept over the country; 
and the leaders convinced themselves that the 
future looked bright, the more so because they 
were persuaded that Russia had her hands full 
with Turkey. This they had hoped to turn to 
their advantage, when towards the end of 1790 
they had approached the sultan with a view to 
a compact, by which Poland, in return for 
certain concessions, was to be given rights of 
free trade on the Dniester and on the Black Sea. 
The sultan, however, had been firm in demand- 
ing that the return to be made by Poland should 
be a declaration of war on Russia; and to this 

208 



TURKEY AND POLAND AGAIN 

the leaders had been unwilling to consent. They 
had continued with their own plans. 

On 3 May, 1791, the Diet had met, despite 
the protests of the king, under what, from the 
point of view of Russia, were to all intents and 
purposes revolutionary conditions. In the course 
of the speeches, two subjects were prominent. 
Serfdom must, it was said, be swept away for 
ever. The elective kingship must likewise dis- 
appear. The present ruler might be allowed to 
remain undisturbed during his lifetime. On his 
death the crown was to be offered once more to 
the ruler of Saxony, to pass henceforth from father 
to son. During the impassioned debates, Stanislas 
Augustus was himself won over to the cause of 
the patriots, and it was he who called on the 
Bishop of Cracow to administer the oath to all 
present. 

In England, Burke, who had applauded the 
action of Russia against the ' destructive savages * 
who were the Turks, but who had also, twenty 
years earlier, condemned the first partition of 
Poland, uttered his eulogy of an event which he 
described as embodying probably the purest 
good ever conferred on mankind. In Prussia, 
the news of what had happened was on the 
whole received with approval. Frederick William 
had quite sound reasons for thinking that a 
moderately strong independent buffer state 
between his own country and Russia would not be 
amiss. When, in 1 785, S^gur had stopped in Berlin 

209 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

on his way to St. Petersburg, that diplomatist 
had been impressed by a remark made to him 
by Prince Henry of Prussia. It referred to a 
judgment of Diderot. The philosopher, said the 
prince, had pointed out that Russia was a 
colossus with feet of clay ; but an immense colossus, 
that could not be attacked because it was 
covered with a buckler of ice, and, having very 
long arms, might one day be fatal to Germany. 
The possibility was never lost sight of by Prussia. 

But Catherine, with no thought but deter- 
mination to crush at once this new and dangerous 
movement, which seemed to promise independ- 
ence for Poland, had no intention of coming 
into conflict with Prussia. Her policy was to 
win over Frederick William, and this she 
succeeded in doing. After all, there were spoils 
to be had. 

The end was never really in doubt. Poland 
stood alone. England, whatever many in the 
country might feel, neither could, nor would, 
send a fleet to the Baltic or the Black Sea, the 
only possible method of giving assistance. 
Frederick William came to terms with Catherine, 
and even had he not done so, his concern 
was now, like that of the Emperor, Leopold, 
with the events that were tumbling over one 
another in France, and in particular, with the 
position of the king and queen. Throughout 
1792, when the allied army of Prussia and 
Austria crossed the Rhine to restore, as they 

210 



TURKEY AND POLAND AGAIN 

believed, the Bourbon monarchy; when Louis 
was a prisoner in the Temple; when Danton 
ordered the September massacres; Catherine, 
partly by diplomacy, partly by troops, steadily 
proceeded with the crushing of the reformers 
and reform in Poland. To Grimm, an exile 
from Paris in Gotha, his poverty relieved by 
generous help from Catherine, the latter wrote 
always seeking, consciously or unconsciously, to 
justify her actions to others, and to herself 
that it was not reform she was fighting in Poland, 
but Jacobinism. It was a telling argument. That 
word was already associated in men's minds with 
all that was extreme in revolution. 

The Polish patriot leaders were no match for 
Catherine in diplomacy. Nor could their troops 
withstand hers. In spite of the valiant fighting 
of a little force, in whose ranks Thaddeus 
Kosciuszko, a young Pole who had fought in 
the American War of Independence, was 
conspicuous, the Russian army entered Warsaw 
with little difficulty. 

In August and September, 1 793, a Diet sitting 
at Gradno gave its consent, under duress, to a 
second partition of the country. Russia took 
further and extensive slices of territory in 
Lithuania and White Russia, including part of 
the Polish area of the Ukraine. To Prussia, as a 
reward for the acquiescence of its king, fell 
Dantzig and Thorn, with other territory. But, as 
before, Russia secured far more than mere 

211 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

territorial gains. The Diet was forced to make 
other concessions. They agreed that Polish 
troops should, if asked for, be placed at the 
disposal of Russia. They agreed to make no treaty 
with any power except with Russia's consent. 
They agreed that their government should always 
be approved by Russia. 

Fox was among those who were shocked at 
this second ruthless cutting up of the unhappy 
Poland. But he had already fallen from his 
high estate in Catherine's eyes. His speeches in 
praise of the revolution in France were, to her, 
unforgivable. His bust was removed from the 
gallery in Tsarskoe Selo, where it had been 
placed. 

Poland was a yet more truncated country 
than before; yet more under the control of 
Russia; her king Stanislas had kept his throne 
yet more of a puppet king. But she was 
still a country. To the patriot party, the 
situation was intolerable. They rushed on their 
fate. In March 1 794, Kosciuszko, with a splendid 
gesture, raised his standard in Cracow. His 
special appeal had been to the peasants, to whom 
he had promised freedom from bondage; and 
many of them flocked to join his limited forces. 
A Russian army, taken by surprise, was defeated. 
This was sufficient to alarm Frederick William, 
shaken by the events of the preceding year of 
terror in France, ^nd he immediately offered 
Catherine assistance. Both sent armies into 

212 



TURKEY AND POLAND AGAIN 

Poland. The Prussian army took Cracow, but 
retreated from before Warsaw, to which they 
had laid siege. In the meantime, the Russian 
troops, one of the armies being led by Suvorov, 
swept forward. In a desperate battle Kosciuszko 
was wounded and made prisoner. Suvorov's 
army went on to Warsaw. The fall of the capital, 
which was followed by an appalling massacre, 
was the end for Poland. On 3 January, 1795, 
that country disappeared as a political entity, 
by the terms of what was to be known as the 
Third Partition. Russia took the long-coveted 
Duchy of Gourland, with what was left, after 
the two former partitions, of Lithuania, as well 
as Vilna. Prussia secured Warsaw and the 
surrounding district. To Austria, who had not 
participated in the Second Partition, was given, 
as a reward for non-interference and a security 
for the future, Western Galicia, including Cracow 
and Lublin. Stanislas retired to St. Petersburg. 
He was given, as a dwelling place in that city, 
the palace of Gregori Orlov, dead since 1783. 

Once more the Russian frontier had moved 
forward. Yet, quite apart from the ethical 
aspect of the successive rapes of Poland, pro- 
foundly shocking to many, including such men 
as Charles Fox and Edmund Burke, who had 
whole-heartedly approved Catherine's exploits 
against Turkey, there were those who held that 
she had initially allowed her judgment to be 
led astray by Frederick when he proposed the 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

first act of partition, and that Nikita Panin was 
right when he said that a strong, independent 
Poland, friendly to Russia, and in close touch with 
her, would be in the best interests of the latter 
country. Whether these conditions were com- 
patible one with another is dubious. But, having 
taken the first step, Catherine took the last, and 
Poland was split up among the three powers. 



214 



Chapter Ten 

St. Petersburg and its People 

IN 1790 a German resident in St. Petersburg, 
Dr. Johann Gottlieb Georgi, member of the 
academies of Berlin, of Rome, and of St. 
Petersburg, published a volume which he entitled 
A Description of St. Petersburg. It was a detailed 
description, with a ^generous allowance of 
statistics; and showed the city buildings, 
population, and social and economic life as it 
had developed since, in 1703, its founder had laid 
the foundation stone of the fortress, which, like 
the city itself, was to be named after him, on 
one of the islands which lay in the estuary of 
the Neva. 

Since Peter had determined, in the well-worn 
phrase, to, open a window to the west, he had 
chosen what was, as he saw it, the only possible 
site; the mouth of the river that emptied itself 
into the gulf of Finland, opening in its turn 
into the Baltic. That the delta made by the 
river, a delta with islands, was a swamp, had 
counted for nothing. Peter's city had risen on 
piles driven into the marshy ground. It had been 
built by forced labour, and at the cost of the lives 
of thousands of those who had laboured. And 

c.o,-8 215 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

from the marshes thus covered unhealthy mists 
still rose. Despite the marshes, despite die fact 
that, in that northern latitude, the river was 
icebound from November to March, or even 
April, while the shortest day afforded only five 
and a half hours daylight, despite the terrible 
floods which inundated the city, when, after 
south-westerly winds had piled up the waters at 
the mouth of the estuary, the Neva, as not 
infrequently occurred, broke its banks, the city 
stood, a monument to its founder. And, to what 
Peter had built, his successors had added, 
notably his daughter Elizabeth, and after her, 
Catherine, until, in the last decade of the 
eighteenth century, St. Petersburg was seen 
as a city of glitter, of opulence and luxury, of 
art and elegance. If this aspect of the whole 
overshadowed what was more utilitarian and 
not only this, but also what was dire poverty, it 
did not do away with either. They were there, 
as much a part of St. Petersburg, as was its 
brilliance. 

The utilitarian side had been emphasized in 
the very foundation of the city. Peter had 
intended to create a centre for trade as much as 
a new centre for his government. His foresight 
was amply justified by the number of ships which 
in the days of his successors were sailing from 
and arriving at the quays on the riverside. 
According to Georgi, the number of those 
arriving had risen from between one and two 

216 



ST. PETERSBURG 

hundred in the years before 1750, to between 
nine hundred and a thousand in 1788. The rise, 
however, had not been steady. In some years, 
notably between 1761 and 1764, there had been 
retrogression, to be followed by a leap forward. 
But, seen over the whole period, the figures 
testified to a steady increase in the trade with 
the west; particularly with England, and with 
Holland, and extending, during the later years, 
to America, although the figure for the ships 
arriving from the latter country was, as might 
have been expected, the lowest in the table. 

Of all the buildings on the banks of the river, 
with its ships passing up and down, the Admiralty 
was foremost in recalling Peter's original purpose. 
It had grown in 1790 from Peter's simple ship- 
yard, to a great stone edifice, which was a chan- 
cellery ; a magazine ; a workshop, and by which, 
close at hand, was the yard from which the 
warships were launched. 

The fortress and cathedral of St. Peter and 
St. Paul stood on one of the smallest of the 
islands. A Iittl6" distance away was the small 
house, built in the Dutch style, from which Peter 
had watched the construction of his city. 

Thrice the spire of the cathedral had been 
destroyed by the lightning which accompanied 
the terrible storms that so often visited the 
region. It was Catherine under whom a new 
spire was erected after the third time of des- 
truction; and this new spire was covered by 

217 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

copper and gilt; and it was she who replaced 
the clock, destroyed with the spire, by a Dutch 
chiming clock. 

The island on which fortress, cathedral and 
cottage stood was connected by one of the many 
bridges of boats with what had been known from 
the days of Peter, and continued to be known, as the 
Admiralty quarter, on the left bank of the river, 
divided, in Catherine's days, into three sections. 

To the right of the Admiralty stood the Winter 
Palace; with its rococo front, its fifteen hundred 
rooms, its gardens and its pavilions; a monu- 
ment to the art of Rastrelli ; the residence of the 
rulers of Russia. In her bedroom in that build- 
ing, which she had ordered to be built, but 
which she had not lived to see finished, Elizabeth 
had died. To that building, still incomplete, 
Catherine had come, with her procession of 
guards, after the pronouncement in the Church 
of Our Lady of Kazan. 

But, when, in 1 790, Georgi was describing the 
city, the Winter Palace, as designed by the 
Italian architect, had not only been perfected, 
but had received notable additions, the con- 
ception of Catherine. She had desired to have, 
over and above the royal apartments, a further 
set of rooms of a more private character. In 
1765, therefore, the French architect, Vallin de 
la Mothe, designed for her what was called, 
after its purpose, the Pavilion de Hermitage. In 
these rooms throughout her reign she read, she 

218 



ST. PETERSBURG 

worked, she talked with Grimm on his two 
visits to St. Petersburg, with Diderot on his, 
with the Englishman Harris, and the French- 
man Segur, with Orlov, and with Potemkin. 
But this retreat was not destined to stand alone. 
About 1775, Velton, a Russian, was commissioned 
to draw plans for an additional building in 
which to house the pictures and the many objects 
of art which Catherine had been steadily adding 
to the lesser collections made by her predecessors. 
This new building was connected with the 
pavilion by an arched bridge which was a 
corridor. To it, again, was added, about 1780, 
a theatre, designed, in its turn, by the Italian, 
Quarenghi. In that theatre were played, on 
occasions, more than one comedy written by 
Catherine herself, others by S^gur, who wielded 
an elegant and witty pen. 

The Frenchman, the Russian, the Italian had, 
between them, over a space of some twenty-five 
years, created a group of buildings which was 
one of the glories of Catherine's reign and which, 
largely reconstructed some sixty years after her 
death, this time by a German architect, was to 
continue to be one of the glories of St. Petersburg. 
Theatre and galleries took their name from the 
original pavilion. In the event it was the 
galleries, with their superb collection of pictures, 
and of precious objects of all kinds, with which 
the name came to be especially associated. 

For the enrichment of those galleries, Catherine 

219 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

looked for the most part outside Russia; and 
above all, to Paris, that centre for the con- 
noisseurs and collectors with whom she entered 
into rivalry. Grimm and Diderot, as well as 
others, were not infrequently asked to act as 
her agents; to make a purchase on her behalf, 
or to set an artist or sculptor to work for her. 
It was Grimm who bought for her the sculptor 
Houdon's seated figure of Voltaire, a copy of 
the figure in the Gom6die Frangaise. But one of 
Catherine's greatest triumphs in Paris was over 
that ardent collector, Horace Walpole, when 
she, the slay-czar, or another of his many 
names for her ' Empress Gertrude ', entered 
into competition with him in the matter of a 
purchase, and defeated him. In the summer of 
1771, Walpole was in Paris, looking at antiques, 
attending sales, bespeaking chairs and cabinets 
and all manner of bibelots for his friends in 
England, who often thus enlisted his good ser- 
vices. In the market were the pictures of Crozat, 
Baron de Thiers. These, or some of them, 
Walpole was determined to secure, even though, 
as he wrote to England, his financial ruin were 
to result. But, he added, there had been some 
dispute on the subject with the Empress of 
Russia, who had made a bid for the whole 
collection. Catherine triumphed and the Crozat 
collection ^came, the following year, to the 
galleries in the Hermitage. 

It was seven years later that Walpole suffered 

220 



ST. PETERSBURG 

even greater annoyance and humiliation at 
Catherine's hands. In 1779 his nephew George 
Walpole, of whom neither the uncle nor anyone 
else had much good to say, decided to sell the 
pictures at Houghton House, mainly to meet his 
own and his father's debts. In any case, the 
proceeding would have grieved the uncle, for 
the sake, as he wrote to Sir Horace Maruj, of the 
memory of his own father, so closely associated 
with the collection, as well as on account of the 
pictures themselves. His resentment was doubled 
when he learned that the Empress of Russia was 
negotiating through Mouschkin-Pouschkin, Rus- 
sian minister plenipotentiary in London, for the 
purchase of the entire collection. The negotia- 
tions were protracted, but in the end, the pictures 
went to Catherine for a sum said variously to 
be either 36,000 or 44,500. It was some 
slight alleviation to Walpole to be able to main- 
tain that the Empress had given a price above 
their proper value. But, he wrote, he wished 
that, if they had to be sold at all, they could 
have gone to the crown of England, instead of 
that of Russia, where they would certainly be 
burnt in a wooden palace in the next insurrec- 
tion. Walpole never quite gave up the idea of 
an insurrection that would destroy Catherine, 
any more than he ever quite kept pace with the 
advance of Russia ; and there were, indeed, still 
many wooden buildings, great and small, along- 
side the newer erections in stone; for wood was 

221 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

more easily come by in that country of forests 
than stone, which always had to be brought 
from a distance. 

One other picture at least went from England 
to the Hermitage Galleries; not as part of a 
purchased collection, but as a specially com- 
missioned piece. Catherine asked Sir Joshua 
Reynolds for a painting, giving him liberty of 
choice of a subject, and making no stipulation as 
to price. The picture arrived in St. Petersburg 
in 1 790, one of the artist's last works, for in that 
year his eyesight began to fail. The subject 
chosen was a representation of the infant Hercules 
strangling the serpents, intended as an allegory 
of the young Russia surmounting her difficulties. 
Sir Joshua had judged well. He could hardly 
have chosen to transmute into paint an idea, or 
the treatment of it, which would have been more 
satisfying to Catherine. With the picture were 
sent two sets of the Discourses, in English and in 
French. Catherine, conveying her thanks for 
picture and books through her ambassador in 
London, bade the latter tell Sir Joshua that she 
was reading the Discourses with avidity, and 
found in them, as in the picture, the most 
elevated genius possible. To the fee which had 
been named, 1500 guineas, she added a gold 
snuff-box with a portrait of herself in the lid, 
encircled with diamonds. 

The Hermitage buildings, in their triple aspect, 
represented something of the many-sidedness of 

222 



ST. PETERSBURG 

the Empress. In the open space or square to the 
left of the Admiralty another expression of her 
mind was, while the Hermitage was in building, 
talcing shape. 

Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, had 
had a statue of her father erected in his own city. 
Catherine determined there should be yet another. 
In the choice of an alrtist Diderot had been 
consulted; and that philosopher had recom- 
mended Etienne Falconnet, a sculptor of Paris 
who had produced a good deal of work of 
varying quality. In 1766 Falconnet arrived in 
St. Petersburg and proceeded to the modelling 
of the statue, a work which occupied the space 
of twelve years, during which time letters on 
many subjects, literary and artistic, passed 
between him and the Empress. The sculptor 
also had on his hands a series of quarrels with 
Russian authorities on art. 

Completed and cast in bronze, Peter was 
shown on horseback, reining in his horse on the 
brink of a precipice, his face towards the Neva, 
his outstretched hand seeming to point to the 
city created by his will. It was a huge piece, 
and was mounted on a block of granite huge to 
correspond, brought from across the gulf of 
Finland. On two sides appeared an inscription, 
once in Russian, once in Latin: Petro Priino 
Catherina Secunda. It was an acknowledgment to 
Peter from the stranger who had raised herself 
to Peter's throne. 

223 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

One side of the square in which the statue 
stood, the side furthest from the river, had been 
occupied by a church, called the Isaac church, 
ever since the first small wooden building of 
that dedication had been set up in the early days 
of the city. Catherine planned for a cathedral. 
The work was commenced in 1768. Some twenty 
years later, when Georgi was writing, it had 
progressed sufficiently for him to describe the 
walls 6f granite, faced with marble of many 
-colours, with jasper, with lapis lazuli, and with 
porphyry, brought from Finland, from Siberia, 
and from what were now recognized as the 
treasure caves for stones and minerals, the 
Urals. The site, facing the statue which was to 
be immortalized as the bronze horseman, and, 
beyond the statue, the Neva, was, wrote Georgi, 
perfect for a building which Catherine intended 
should be the greatest of all those of the Orthodox 
<3hurch. It was not until four years after her 
death that the whole was fully complete. It 
stood for eighteen years, and was then destroyed 
by fire ; and was rebuilt once more. 

With the Hermitage and the Isaac Cathedral 
rose, at Catherine's command, yet other build* 
ings; among them some of which Louis Rau, 
one time Director of the French Institute in 
St. Petersburg, which had then become Petrograd, 
said, >vhen writing of art in Russia, that in 
them Catherine offered witness and recognizance 
of her affections. Such was the Tauride Palace. 

224 



ST. PETERSBURG 

Such, too, was another palace, of an earlier 
date, built for Gregori Orlov. 

The latter building, long to be known as 
the Marble Palace, faced the Neva, beyond the 
Hermitage buildings. The design was by Antonio 
Rinaldo, on classical lines, following the 
style of architecture now approved through a 
great part of Europe, a style which modelled 
itself on the architecture of Greece and Rome, 
and which had been greatly stimulated by the 
discoveries at Pompeii where excavations had 
begun in 1763, and were exciting all polite 
scholarly and artistic society. But if the lines of 
the building it was a low two-storied erection 
were simple and severe, the materials used added 
richness and colour, and glitter. Georgi describes 
the roof inlaid with copper, the walls of granite 
faced with marble, many-coloured marble, 
according to him, although Reau lays particular 
stress on the employment of that of a grey hue, 
brought to St. Petersburg for the first time from 
a quarry recently opened up in Siberia. Win- 
dows, continues Georgi, were all set in gilt 
frames and the balconies, always a feature of the 
palaces in St. Petersburg, were likewise gilded. 
Over the entrance, Catherine, as she was later 
to do in the case of the Tauride Palace, caused 
to be placed an inscription. This building, said 
the Russian words, was a thank-offering. But 
the erection was not commenced before 1770, 
and took so many years to complete that Orlov 

225 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

can hardly have seen it finished before his death 
in 1783. It was Stanislas Augustus who benefited. 

Orlov had, however, been given before this 
another palace, a summer palace, outside St. 
Petersburg, in the little village of Gatchina, 
wKose river of the same name was celebrated 
for the trout which appeared on every table of 
importance in the capital. Here, also the work 
of Rinaldo, had risen a palace, again of classical 
design, with its arcade of marble columns 
this time marble from Finland standing amid 
gardens laid out after the English style of the 
day. This palace, too, with its contents, Catherine 
took back on Orlov's death, to give it as a 
residence to her son. It was a convenient spot, 
where his activities could be supervised ; and yet 
a little remote from the capital. 

Thirty miles out of St. Petersburg, and twelve 
distant from Tsarskoe Selo, Gatchina was one 
of the many palaces which, with lesser country 
houses and villas, all with their parks or gardens, 
were to be found to the south of the capital, and 
westward by the gulf of Finland. Many, as 
travellers noted, were at this time newly built, or 
rebuilt. 

The Empress had led the way. Some of the 
finest architectural work accomplished for her 
was that to be found in the palaces outside St. 
Petersburg. Among much else, Quarenghi added 
the so-called English palace to Peterhof. At 
Tsarskoe Selo he later designed the Alexander 

226 



ST. PETERSBURG 

Palace for Catherine's grandson. But the archi- 
tect whose genius found its fullest expression in 
these buildings was James Cameron. Rau says 
that Catherine, growing ever more classically- 
minded in architecture, found that Rinaldo's 
style was not sufficiently pure. Therefore, she 
turned to the Scottish architect, of whom she 
wrote in a letter, dated August 1779* to Grimm, 
that he was a great master of design, nourished 
on antiquities. It was just seven years before 
this that Cameron had published, in London, 
his volume on the Baths of the Romans and their 
Restoration by Palladia, to which he had added a 
preface on Roman Art. Amid the work he 
accomplished in Russia, including some at the 
Winter Palace, some as far afield as in the 
Crimea, the building of a new palace at Pavlousk, 
three miles from Tsarskoe Selo, as a residence for 
the Grand-duke Paul and his wife, that at 
Tsarskoe Selo itself was to stand out. There he 
built for Catherine the arcaded gallery which 
was to be reckoned the greatest monument to 
his genius; and the agate pavilion with its three 
rooms having walls of jasper. And in the palace 
he decorated Catherine's private apartments, 
some of them after the Pompeiian style, and 
designed furniture for the rooms he had 
decorated. 

The parks and gardens, with their formal 
borders and equally formal clumps of bushes 
and trees, their pavilions and temples and 

227 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

statuary, were in accordance with the classical 
lines of the palaces which stood in their midst ; 
and, as elsewhere in Europe, as much attention 
was given to the gardens as to the buildings. 
Gardeners were not infrequently brought from 
England, and Capability Brown had at least one 
St. Petersburg correspondent in Gould, who laid 
out the gardens round the Tauride Palace. Either 
he or another Englishman had laid out the gardens 
round Potemkin's southern home. During the 
seventeen-seventies the head of a celebrated nursery 
garden at Hackney was working at Tsarskoe Selo. 
His name was John Bush, sometimes spelled 
Busch, and he may have been of German origin ; 
he is known to have spoken German fluently. 
His fame extended beyond his own lifetime, for, 
in later years, his skill was greatly praised by that 
eminent authority on gardening, James Loudon. 
Bush had apparently been brought over for some 
particular piece of work, but when he returned 
to England, his son remained as one of the 
imperial gardeners in St. Petersburg. 

The palaces, the country houses, and the 
villas standing thus outside of the capital were 
really part of it, extensions of that imperial city, 
'to which the owners resorted for change of 
scene, especially in the spring and summer, 
seasons whose charm, in those northern latitudes, 
where spring could come in twenty-four hours 
and the long summer day knew no night, was 
all the greater because of contrast with the 

228 



ST. PETERSBURG 

winter cold and darkness. There were many 
gardens, too, within the city; gardens round the 
palaces, gardens round the lesser, but still 
important, houses and public gardens, all as 
attractively laid out, in their degree, as those 
outside the capital. 

The public garden known as the Summer 
Garden, on the bank of the Neva, beyond the 
Marble Palace, the centre of the outdoor life of 
St. Petersburg, had been planned by Peter the 
Great, who had had a small house for himself 
set up in one corner. A lesser Summer Garden, 
also with a small palace attached, had been laid 
out by the Empress Anne. Catherine, always 
said to be genuinely interested in horticulture, 
established, in 1785, the first botanical garden 
in the city, and later added a medical garden, 
for both of which good works she was later much 
praised by Loudon. 

Many pictures have been drawn of the life led 
in the capital by that part of society of which the 
court was the centre entertainments, the theatre, 
the music, all on the most sumptuous scale. The 
splendour of the court banquets and receptions, 
the gold and silver, the crystal and the porcelain 
which ornamented the rooms and tables, as well 
as the luxurious food set forth on the tables, 
became a by-word in Europe. Sir James Harris, 
writing to England in January, 1778, said that 
he had been prepared for magnificence, but that 
which he had found exceeded all expectation. 

229 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

It was the Winter Palace which primarily 
was the scene of the court entertainments, at 
least in the winter. The rooms in the Hermitage 
were for Catherine's more intimate gatherings. 
In the summer Tsarskoe Selo and Peterhof, with 
their parks and gardens, were an amazing 
background for the glitter and the richness of 
the uniforms worn by the men and the ^dresses 
worn by the ladies. 

For the theatre the chief building was the 
new theatre, of stone, standing in the second 
Admiralty quarter and replacing the first wooden 
building which had stood in the Summer Gar- 
den there were two official companies, one 
Russian and one French; besides several free, 
or non-official companies. The Russian company 
was made up of twelve actors, of whom the most 
celebrated was Dnitrewski, and six actresses. 
The recognized opera company was Italian. The 
players were mainly of that nationality, but 
included a few Russians, and, while the majority 
of the operas played were either French or 
German, the appearance of several which were 
the work of native composers marks the birth 
of the true Russian opera. So also with the 
dancing company which wak part of the opera 
company. Set dances or ballets, the place of 
whose origin was France, were performed by 
French exponents of the art. But some Russians 
were also to be found in the company, and that, 
too, may well be regarded as the starting- 

230 



ST. PETERSBURG 

point of what was later to burgeon so grandly. 

That Catherine herself was unmusical did not 
imply the neglect of music. Court concerts were 
given frequently. One orchestra was especially 
attached to the court, others performed in the 
theatres and, during the summer, in the open 
air, particularly in the Summer Garden, often 
in the evening. Music, as well as performers, 
came for the most part from Italy, from France, 
and from Germany. But one orchestra was 
Russian. It was the orchestra of Russian horns, 
playing what Georgi called the royal hunt music ; 
and had been founded in 1751, under the 
particular patronage of Elizabeth. This music 
may perhaps be compared with such a piece as 
the Messe de St. Hubert, the French hunting 
music, and was doubtless based on the ancient 
hunting calls of the forest. But other music was 
also played by the orchestra, which, however, 
in Catherine's time, seems to have lost something 
of its popularity, most of its performances being 
given in Moscow. 

The personal life of nobles and gentry was, as 
far as exteriors were concerned, rich, even 
sumptuous. The clothes worn were superb. 
Georgi gives a list of factories, imperial state 
factories as well as private establishments, which 
manufactured fine brocades, silks, and satins ; all of 
which were frequently interwoven with patterns of 
gold and silver thread. Similar material came from 
France and from Italy; while English doth of 

231 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

the finest texture also arrived in bales at the 
quays. For the making up of their dresses the 
court ladies and those of allied circles took their 
fashions from Paris. Not much difference would 
perhaps have been perceived between the cut 
of the fine clothes worn at the Winter Palace, 
and those to be seen at Versailles. But the 
emeralds, the rubies, the sable and the black fox 
of Russia spoke of the east in its gorgeousness, 
rather than of the more restrained west. And 
as was truly said, the men and women of Russia 
looked far more Russian in their winter out-door 
attire the cloaks, the furs than at any other 
time. 

The jewels and the furs of the Empress herself 
were celebrated throughout^ Europe; and dis- 
tinguished visitors received at her court spoke of 
the grandeur of her attire. Yet that grandeur 
was, it would seem, largely kept for important 
occasions. Many of those who saw her apart 
from festivities commented on her fondness for 
appearing in the long loose garment, a coat held 
by girdle and buttons, with wide sleeves, that 
was the typical Russian coat. S6gur, who said 
that the costume was like that worn by the 
* early Muscovites, 5 added that Catherine donned 
it to disguise the corpulency of age which, he 
pointed out, effaces every charm in a woman. 
Catherine was undoubtedly stout in middle 
age. She may well have worn the dress for its 
comfort there is some evidence that throughout, 

232 



ST. PETERSBURG 

not only in her clothes, she preferred simplicity 
and ease in private life. But it was also remarked 
that the Princess Daschkov followed the fashion 
set by her imperial mistress, with the suggestion 
that both were being deliberately Russian, or, as 
S6gur would have put it, Muscovite. For what- 
ever reason Catherine donned the coat, she liked 
it well enough to allow herself to be shown in it 
in more than one of her portraits. 

The tables of the nobility and gentry were, 
like their clothes, luxurious ; and like their clothes, 
were by no means dependent on native produce. 
The produce of northern Russia, or, rather, 
that part of northern Russia in which the capital 
lay, provided the staple foods of sea and river 
fish; of cabbages, cucumbers, turnips, and 
radishes, which grew freely in the district, other- 
wise not propitious for vegetables, together with 
milk and eggs and butter, coming mostly from 
certain dairy colonies near St. Petersburg; and 
bread made both of rye and of wheat. But in 
addition to the last Georgi gave a list of seven 
bakers in St. Petersburg who supplied kalatches, 
the rolls which supposedly could only be made 
with the water of the Moskva River, said to have 
been brought from Moscow to St. Petersburg 
regularly for the purpose. All round the capital, 
wild berries, particularly, in their respective 
seasons, wood strawberries, and cranberries, were 
abundant. 

But the very wealthy, like the court, had 

233 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

much with which to augment their fare. The 
gardeners who worked in the great gardens in 
and near St. Petersburg were responsible for 
fine fruit and fine vegetables grown under glass. 
It is said, and this is to some extent confirmed 
by both Georgi and Loudon, that the use of 
glass for forcing was introduced into Russia by 
Catherine. Hence, as the reign continued, 
pineapples, peaches, and nectarines were all 
added to the native fruits for the tables of the 
rich; and for these tables again sweets were 
manufactured by confectioners who had learnt 
their art in Paris. From France and from 
Germany came wines to supplement the native 
vodka and beer. 

All these foods and drinks were served for high 
occasions on gold and silver and the finest 
porcelain; brought from Augsburg and Nurem- 
berg ; from Dresden and Sfevres ; but much of both 
also coming from the native factories of which 
Georgi gives a list. 

Georgi, however, even bowing as he did before 
the imperial lady and her imperial city, did not 
fail to note that the life for which the palace^ 
and other great houses were the background 
represented only one aspect of life in that city. 
There was also that of which the ships passing 
up and down the Neva were an integral pan. 

Along the quays on the riverside, towards its 
mouth were the shipyards and warehouses the 
consummation of the dream of Peter the Great 



ST. PETERSBURG 

of a great trading capital. Behind the Admiralty 
and the dwellings on either side stretching 
southward, away from the river, was the busy, 
active quarter which spoke of commerce. Through 
this quarter ran the Nevsky Prospect, with its 
two companion streets; all three cut by the 
architect Le Blond for Peter, and all radiating 
towards the Admiralty. Other principal and 
lesser streets also ran towards the river; and all 
were intersected by others, at right angles ; so that 
Georgi was not the only one who commented 
on the danger to traffic of such sharp turnings. 

Trade and commerce in Russia had indeed, 
with some inevitable setbacks, been steadily 
increasing since the city had first risen from its 
foundations. The figures, and he gives them 
lavishly, set down by Georgi, in addition to 
those given for the ships, are impressive. 

A prosperous trade implied a prosperous 
trading folk. And this was so. Complementary 
to the commercial quarters were the houses and 
villas of the merchants and the upper class of 
tradesmen. S6gur spoke of the solid wealth of 
.these classes, wealth he found amazing. Georgi 
commented on the high degree of comfort in 
which they lived. A German traveller, C. 
Reinbeck, who published, in 1805, a series of 
letters describing his travels in Russia, including 
reminiscences of the last years of Catherine, 
whom he had often seen, was in his turn as 
emphatic in his recognition of merchant pros- 

235 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

perity. Their houses were not palaces, but with 
the gardens attached were extremely comfort- 
able residences. Their tables, all the commen- 
tators agreed, were well spread. Their clothes 
were good, and often rich. It is probable, and 
it is indeed implied by various writers that the 
villas, their contents, and the food found on the 
table were more truly representative of Russia 
than were the palaces and the tables of the 
nobility, in that they owed less to imports from 
the west, and more to the native wealth of their 
own country. Nevertheless, since the merchants 
were themselves the importers, much of what was 
brought in doubtless found a place in their homes. 
In the matter of clothes, however, Reinbeck had 
no doubts. The merchants, he wrote, kept to the 
costumes of their forefathers, a statement which is 
probably true also of the professional classes, at 
least of such as those as did not appear at court. 
Over their shirts, often embroidered and worn 
loose over breeches, the men wore the wide- 
sleeved coat. Their fur hats for the winter might be 
either helmet-shaped, or low with a brim. One 
change, however, was already beginning to be 
remarked. Whereas formerly, and including the 
early years of Catherine, those who wore this 
national dress, wore also the traditional Russian 
high boots, it was observed that in ,the 
seventeen-eighties many, except for the winter, 
were taking to the new low shoes, worn with 
stockings. Always there was, of course, the 

236 



ST. PETERSBURG 

transitional state between old customs and new, 
with now one, and then the other triumphing. 
One old custom continued, in spite of efforts at 
abolition. Seventy-odd years before the publication 
of Georgi's book, Peter the Great had endeav- 
oured, by edict, to make all his people give up 
their beards, which he regarded as being oriental, 
and quite unworthy of a folk looking west. This 
was one of the instances in which his success had 
been far from complete. During Catherine's 
reign a number of the upper classes, many of the 
middle classes, and probably most of the poor, 
were still wearing beards. But, noted Georgi, 
such as did were now considered to be some- 
what old-fashioned in their outlook. 

The wives and daughters of the merchants had, 
for their part, no reason to be ashamed of their 
attire. Reinbeek found the older women wearing 
the fine Russian brocaded jackets, of the old 
fashion, over their skirts, with lace caps that were 
worked with pearls. They wore, too, other jewels, 
set in fine gold and silver work. The younger 
women indulged in more modern touches which 
included fine white lawn petticoats, and as fine 
white lace jackets. In the winter, for young and 
old women alike, there was the loose coat. And 
if those worn by the Empress were of brocade and 
velvet and trimmed with fur, so were those of the 
wives and daughters of her merchants. Reinbeek 
saw ,and admired their fine velvet coats lined 
with sable. 

237 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

perity. Their houses were not palaces, but with 
the gardens attached were extremely comfort- 
able residepces. Their tables, all the commen- 
tators agreed, were well spread. Their clothes 
were good, and often rich. It is probable, and 
it is indeed implied by various writers that the 
villas, their contents, and the food found on the 
table were more truly representative of Russia 
than were the palaces and the tables of the 
nobility, in that they owed less to imports from 
the west, and more to the native wealth of their 
own country. Nevertheless, since the merchants 
were themselves the importers, much of what was 
brought in doubtless found a place in their homes. 
In the matter of clothes, however, Reinbeck had 
no doubts. The merchants, he wrote, kept to the 
costumes of their forefathers, a statement which is 
probably true also of the professional classes, at 
least of such as those as did not appear at court. 
Over their shirts, often embroidered and worn 
loose over breeches, the men wore the wide- 
sleeved coat. Their fur hats for the winter might be 
either helmet-shaped, or low with a brim. One 
change, however, was already beginning to be 
remarked. Whereas formerly, and including the 
early years of Catherine, those who wore this 
national dress, wore also the traditional Russian 
high boots, it was observed that in the 
seventeen-eighties many, except for the winter, 
were taking to the new low shoes, worn with 
stockings. Always there was, of course, the 

236 



ST. PETERSBURG 

transitional state between old customs and new, 
with now one, and then the other triumphing. 
One old custom continued, in spite of efforts at 
abolition. Seventy-odd years before the publication 
of Georgi's book, Peter the Great had endeav- 
oured, by edict, to make all his people give up 
their beards, which he regarded as being oriental, 
and quite unworthy of a folk looking west. This 
was one of the instances in which his success had 
been far from complete. During Catherine's 
reign a number of the upper classes, many of the 
middle classes, and probably most of the poor, 
were still wearing beards. But, noted Georgi, 
such as did were now considered to be some- 
what old-fashioned in their outlook. 

The wives and daughters of the merchants had, 
for their part, no reason to be ashamed of their 
attire. Reinbeek found the older women wearing 
the fine Russian brocaded jackets, of the old 
fashion, over their skirts, with lace caps that were 
worked with pearls. They wore, too, other jewels, 
set in fine gold and silver work. The younger 
women indulged in more modern touches which 
included fine white lawn petticoats, and as fine 
white lace jackets. In the winter, for young and 
old women alike, there was the loose coat. And 
if those worn by the Empress were of brocade and 
velvet and trimmed with fur, so were those of the 
wives and daughters of her merchants. Reinbeek 
saw .and admired their fine velvet coats lined 
with sable. 

237 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

Georgi wrote of these merchants as a free 
people, fulfilling their functions in commerce, 
including sea traffic, under rules laid down by 
the government. They were a class of whose 
importance Catherine was fully aware. But they 
remained, perhaps by their own choice, a class 
apart. The antagonism between them and the 
landowners, so evident during the sitting of the 
commission, continued. 

Of the lesser folk, those who described the 
Russia of Catherine agreed that the more 
prosperous of the workmen were well off, living 
in their degree both as regards housing and 
food what was placed on the table was good, 
says Georgi, and was always accompanied by 
vodka as comfortably as did the merchant 
class, and enjoying, not only the public enter- 
tainments, in the shape of the illuminations and 
so forth, so lavishly provided by the crown on 
all great occasions, but also, pleasures, parti- 
cularly music and dancing, of a style that was 
truly national. Of this folk music, music played 
on instruments of which the balalaika was one, 
and the folk-dancing, with the concomitant 
games, Georgi gives a full account. 

But below these well-to-do workers, in grada- 
tions, were others, of whom the lowest orders, 
even according to the standards of the eighteenth 
century, lived in misery indeed. Georgi speaks 
of their wretched houses, consisting of one room, 
which might or might not be divided by some 



ST, PETERSBURG 

planks, and having outside a small yard; the 
miserable quality of their clothing a long coat 
of linen or of leather, with a sheep's skin 
thrown over for warmth in the winter; and their 
equally wretched diet. These people, he said, 
ate broken meats and fish when they were 
fortunate; usually they subsisted on hard beans, 
cucumbers, and a species of sour-milk cheese, 
poor in quantity as well as in quality. In his 
opinion, there was every excuse for men and 
women living thus to fall back as they did on 
the drink which was cheap, whether it were beer 
or rough wine or coarse vodka. The drinking 
houses, which were more often than not drinking 
cellars, were always full of customers. 

Finally, there was the great tribe of servant 
folk, in the palaces, in the greater houses, work- 
ing in the gardens, some free and living and 
lodging well, some half free, some who were 
serfs, pure and simple. 

The marked division of classes had its effect 
upon the corporate consciousness, or lack thereof, 
of the capital. This again was accentuated by 
a more subtle influence. For many the capital 
was merely a dwelling place for part of the year. 
This did not so much apply, as might have been 
expected, to the court, and with the court the 
court circles and the officials, but rather to others 
of the gentry class, the merchants and to a large 
extent the labouring classes. Behind this lay the 
story of how, in the first instance, the population 

239 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

of St. Petersburg had come to be there at all. 
Even as Peter the Great had built a city by 
force, so he had populated it by force, and force 
had been required. Sir Bernard Pares, writing 
his history of Russia, has pointed out that the 
new city rising from the unhealthy marshes 
had little or nothing to offer the Russian whose 
deepest instinct, whatever his status in society, 
was based on tradition, and that tradition deriving 
from Moscow. 

But, as always, Peter had had his way. In 
1710, he had moved the court and the govern- 
ment departments to his new city. In the same 
year, and during succeeding years, a series of 
edicts had compelled the migrations thither of a 
specified number of noble families ; of merchants 
and traders and artisans, all of whom had been 
required to build themselves houses. And always 
there had been the inflow of forced labour. 
This compulsion had bitten deep into the con- 
sciousness of all, from the highest to the lowest. 
But whereas, after one return to Moscow for a 
short period after Peter's death, the court and 
government had not only accepted the situation, 
but had made the capital truly their capital, 
glorified by the architects employed by the 
sovereigns, and by those sovereigns again made 
the centre of a glittering social life, it was other- 
wise with the more conservative element among 
the lesser gentry and the merchants. Reinbeck 
pointed out that the dwellers in Moscow were 

240 



ST. PETERSBURG 

nearer to the old Russia than were their fellows in 
St. Petersburg, where the influence of the west 
was always seeping in. To that he added that his 
experience informed him that the older capital 
was "the favourite place of residence for all the 
wealthy who were not definitely attached to the 
court. In this he included the upper merchant 
class. Many well-to-do men, he said, merely 
kept apartments in St. Petersburg, and had their 
own palace or substantial house in Moscow. 
This is endorsed by Georgi, who said that a very 
large proportion of merchants, at least, were 
only periodical inhabitants of St. Petersburg. 
They would come to the city for a few months, 
and then remove themselves, not, as did the court, 
to the district of palaces and great houses that 
was really part of St. Petersburg, but going either 
to Moscow or some country district further 
afield. This state of affairs, particularly in the 
case of the merchants and others engaged in 
trade, was not entirely due to the unpopularity 
of St. Petersburg. During the winter months the 
freezing of both sea and river, put an end to 
sea trade. 

The climate had its repercussions upon the 
labouring class also. They were perforce mobile, 
coming, or more often being brought into the 
city, when the spring broke the bonds of winter, 
and returning to their villages, some six months 
later,* when winter resumed its grip again. It 
was, said Georgi, this constant movement which 

241 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

made it so difficult for anyone like himself, who 
approached the business in a scientific spirit, 
and with a passion for statistics, to estimate 
truly what was the actual population of St. 
Petersburg at any given time. But, as he added, 
general deductions can be made. 

In 1789, one of the regular censuses had been 
taken by the police. The result had given the 
total number of dwellers in the city, men, 
women and children, of all classes, and including 
nationalities other than Russian, as just under 
218,000 persons. The figure shows to what 
degree the population had risen during the past 
forty years. The first census mentioned by 
Georgi had been taken in 1750; and the total 
was then no more than a little over 74,000 
persons. In this earlier census, however, no 
children were included. This must have made a 
considerable difference. Also, although the 
register, from the details supplied, appeared on 
the whole to be well done, the salient fact in 
estimating its accuracy was the time of year, 
with the consequent presence or absence of 
many of the inhabitants, in which the figures 
were actually taken. 

Taking the census of 1789 as it stood, some 
estimate was made by Georgi of the numbers 
relating to the various classes found within the 
city. 

Of the entire population something like one- 
fifth was accounted for by the military establish- 

242 



ST. PETERSBURG 

ments; the various regiments, the cadet and 
other training schools; the wives and children of 
military persons. This high ratio of the military 
class to all others might have been expected. 
All accounts illustrate the important part played 
by the military at the court, and in the general 
social life of the capital. 

Men of the navy, whose number naturally 
constantly fluctuated, were reckoned as 10,000 
odd at the moment when the census was taken. 

The remainder of nearly 163,000 persons was 
made up of civilians of all classes, gentry, officials, 
merchants, tradesmen, artisans, and labourers; 
together with the clergy, and something like 
5,000 boys and girls in educational establishments. 

The details of this census reveal, as is amply 
illustrated elsewhere, the number of persons of 
foreign birth resident in St. Petersburg; another 
complication in the social development of the 
city. Here distinctions must be drawn. There 
were those who had come to St. Petersburg, as 
elsewhere in Russia, to become as time went 
on, and often very quickly, completely Russian- 
ized; considered as natives, and frequently, as 
was the case with the minister Panin y as well as 
others, given a Russian title. At the other .end 
of the scale were such men a^ Bush the gardener, 
or Falconnet the sculptor, who came, or who 
were brought for a particular purpose, to remain 
only a few years, or less, and then to return to 
their own country. In between was a great 

243 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

crowd whose status was really indeterminate, 
many of them holding important positions, and 
more or less resident, yet keeping their own 
nationality. 

Without making a strict delineation of these 
various classes of foreigners, Georgi reckoned 
that those whom he called strangers accounted, 
in the years in which he was drawing up his 
guide-book, for as .many as one-sixth of the 
inhabitants of St. Petersburg. 

Of these strangers by far the greater number 
were those of German birth. The preponderance 
of Germans dated, so said the writer, from the 
very first days of the city. Then many Germans 
had arrived, from Moscow and from other 
cities in Russia, and from Germany itself. The 
encouragement of this immigration had been part 
of Peter's deliberate policy. Thereafter had been 
a supplementary flow from Germany into Russia, 
and particularly into the capital. These Germans 
had at all times tended to form themselves into 
colonies, either in the city, or in country districts. 
Under Catherine, who is said to have encouraged, 
if not originated them, several flourishing agri- 
cultural German colonies were to be found in 
the district adjacent to St. Petersburg. They 
it was who largely supplied the city with its 
dairy produce. 

Next in number to the Germans were men 
from the British Isles, men of all sorts and 
conditions. Among them was included the 

244 



ST. PETERSBURG 

important group or colony of merchants, who 
had their own, officially recognized, business 
houses, and place on the quays. At all times a 
considerable number, both of English and Scots, 
were to be found in the service of the Russian 
Admiralty; from men like the admirals, Greig 
and Elphinstone, and the naval engineer Sir 
Samuel Bentham, down to ordinary seamen and 
naval workers of all kinds. English and Scots 
were likewise well represented in the professions and 
trades, apart from those who, like Cameron, have 
left famous names. The engraver James Walker, 
a pupil of Valentine Green, came to St. Peters- 
burg in 1784, to remain at least twenty years, 
and to make some well-known drawings of the 
Empress, and of members of her court. Among 
others mentioned by Georgi was Jackson, an 
Englishman who made musical instruments, and 
Morgan, who sold, and may also have made, 
mathematical instruments. There was at least 
one English tailor, who specialized in riding 
clothes. 

Pre-eminent, however, perhaps among the 
English and Scots, not only in the capital, but 
elsewhere in Russia, were the gardeners, Bush 
and Gould, and others, who laid out so many of 
the great gardens around the palaces ; and above 
all, the medical men and the apothecaries. 

Peter had favoured the immigration of Dutch 
workers and their families no less than he had 
favoured that of Germans; and during his time 

245 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

a large number of Dutch had settled in J 
Petersburg. This immigration had, howeve 
considerably slowed down, or had even stoppe 
In 1789, far fewer names of Dutch residen 
were to be found on the lists than would ha^ 
been the case in earlier years. It is difficult to ss 
whether many of the earlier immigrants had le 
Russia to return to their own country, or whetln 
they had become, in the course of time, Russianizec 
Extensive colonization was typical of < 
Germans in Russia ; partial colonization was nc 
infrequent among the Dutch, and to a certai 
extent, the English, although in the latter instanc 
the numbers of individuals working for themselvc 
was very great. Among the French and th 
Italians was little or no colonization. Men c 
these nationalities appear as individuals, am 
almost entirely in relation to the arts. Amonj 
the architects the names of Rinaldo and Quar 
enghi stood out as that of Rastrelli had don< 
earlier. The names of others, if not as eminen 
as these, at least names of distinction, with 2 
lesser group, are to be found among the musi- 
cians the leader of the imperial choir was more 
often than not an Italian the actors and the 
painters. And at least one well-known Austrian 
was for long resident in St. Petersburg. This 
was a woman. She was Nanette Mahueu, the 
celebrated riding mistress, and teacher of what 
in her native town of Vienna had been elevated 
into an art. 

246 



ST. PETERSBURG 

Lastly came those nationalities drawn from 
the provinces which lay to the east and south of 
Russia, and from Asia. Armenians were to be 
found in the capital; chiefly employed in the 
jewellery trade, but also as shopmen generally, 
and as attendants in bathing establishments. 
Tartars, Kalmucks, and Moors were also men- 
tioned, mainly in menial positions. But in 
numbers they were comparatively few, nor were 
the Armenians really numerous. Here was another 
marked distinction between St. Petersburg and 
Moscow, and yet more between St. Petersburg 
and cities lying to the east and^ to the south-east. 
In Moscow were to be found many more men 
who were racially either completely eastern, or 
who belonged more to the east than to the west. 
In such a city as Kazan the balance was entirely 
in favour of the east. c At last', wrote Catherine 
to Voltaire, when she visited that city in the 
spring of 1767, c I am in Asia'. But St. Peters- 
burg was a city which looked westward. 



247 



Chapter Eleven 

The Arts and the Sciences 

ON the Vasili Ostrov or Basil Island, the 
triangular piece of land enisled by the 
streams of the Great and the Little Neva, with 
its base washed by the Gulf of Finland, stood two 
buildings which, each in its degree, represented 
an important sid$ of Russian life. The one was 
the academy of Science ; the other the academy 
of Fine Arts. 

The latter had originally been a department 
of the former, added in 1755 by the Empress 
Elizabeth, almost certainly at the instigation of 
Peter Shuvalov. In 1764 Catherine separated 
this department from the parent body, and 
bestowed upon it the dignity of a separate 
college, with its own statutes. For what was in 
effect a new foundation, she decreed a new 
building. The site selected faced that arm of 
the river which was called the Gieat Neva. The 
plans were drawn up by Vallin de la Mothe. 
Associated with the Frenchman and largely 
responsible for the construction of what was one 
of the most beautiful buildings in the city was 
the Russian architect, Kokorinov. 
The work was commenced in 1765. Georgi, 

248 



THE ARTS AND THE SCIENCES 

looking at the edifice in 1788, when it was 
nearly finished, described it as a three-storied 
building, standing alone, with a court before, 
and surrounded by gardens, among which could 
be discerned some wooden houses. The front, 
with its severe lines and colonnades, was modelled 
on the French classical form. 

The function of the new academy was to 
undertake a general supervision of all the branches 
of art throughout Russia ; to foster and care for 
these, and to provide instruction in them. The 
classes for the latter purpose included painting 
in all its aspects; etching and engraving, archi- 
tecture, fine gold and silver work, and lastly, 
the making of specialized mechanical instruments 
of all kinds. 

In these and cognate subjects regular courses 
were provided for paying pupils. But the statutes 
also required the admittance every three years 
of sixty boys of six years of age. These boys 
were to be given, at the expense of the academy, 
first a good general education, and then instruc- 
tion in one or more of the arts. At fourteen years 
of age they were to sit for an exanfiination, the 
result of which gave the successful candidates 
travelling scholarships for the study of some 
branch of art. 

The teachers in the academy were at first 
largely foreigners, with Frenchmen perhaps 
predominating. But the impetus given to the 
study of art had much to do with the rise during 

249 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

the century of a native school of painters* The 
most prominent was probably Levitski, who 
portrayed the Empress, her court, and the chief 
personalities of the day. The most interesting in 
his personal history was Shibanov. A serf of 
Potemkin, he was never technically given his 
freedom. None the less, he was a recognized and 
admired portrait painter. His best-known picture 
of Catherine was sent to Kiev. But his work 
included more than the portraits of the great, 
which, interesting and valuable in themselves, 
were produced at the time in St. Petersburg, as 
elsewhere in Europe, in profusion. He painted 
also pictures of peasant life ; a departure to be 
set beside the growing fashion for depicting 
landscape. It was these men, Levitski, Shibanov, 
and others, who re-created native art after the 
long hiatus since the days when the expression 
of that art, to which Byzantine influence had ' 
much to say, had been in murals and ikons; to 
the glory of which the Vladimir ikon in the chapel 
of the Assumption in Moscow, the Kazan 
virgin in its church in St. Petersburg, and many 
another treasure bore witness. 

Architecture was another study in the academy. 
Here, however, a truly native school was slower 
in making its way than was the case with painting. 
Rau always declared that it needed the invasion 
of Napoleon to make the school of Russian 
architecture really effective. But against this must 
be set the subtle influence of Russia upon the 

250 



THE ARTS AND THE SCIENCES 

architects from Italy, from France, and from 
Scotland, who produced their great designs for 
her. It was to be noted that, whether the build- 
ing was baroque or rococo or classical, or, for 
the first years after the death of Catherine, 
empire, in each and every case the style was 
somehow or somewhere Russianized. 

The other sections of the academy, less import- 
ant in themselves than those in which painting 
and architecture were studied, nevertheless 
reveal the lively interest taken in handicraft of 
all kinds, particularly in gold and metal work 
and the making of instruments of all kinds. 

This academy of Fine Arts was, however, in 
one sense subsidiary to its fellow college on the 
island. The academy of Science, from which the 
former had sprung, had been the foundation of 
Peter the Great. For that academy, in the last 
year of his life, statutes had been drawn up at 
his request by Leibnitz. The building was 
opened in the following year by Peter's widow and 
successor, Catherine. 

The scheme, as conceived by Peter, and as 
carried out, included a gymnasium with a pro- 
fessoriate for the instruction of students. The 
statutes show the clear intention that the college 
itself was not only to be a centre of learning for 
the capital, but that its function, resembling 
that of its subsidiary, was also to be to supervise 
and to encourage all branches of learning 
throughout Russia. The institution was of the 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

more importance because the university of 
Moscow, was, when founded in 1757 by 
Elizabeth, not only the earliest university "in 
Russia, but remained the only one until the 
early years of the nineteenth century. 

The academy owed much to the fostering care 
of Elizabeth. And, in her reign, the institution 
had at least one remarkable student in Michael 
Lomonosov. That son of a peasant had made his 
way, by his own energy and gifts, to Moscow, to 
Germany; and then to the academy in St. 
Petersburg, to become eminent not only in history 
and literature, but in the sciences. To what 
Elizabeth had done, her successor added. That 
from the first the institution had been under the 
direct patronage of the reigning sovereign was, 
given the social structure of Russia generally, 
and of St. Petersburg in particular, probably 
highly advantageous to the institution. Given 
Catherine's tastes and temperament, the arrange- 
ment was also most acceptable to her. 

As supreme patron the monarch nominated the 
president of the academy. The danger was that 
this might imply that the president would be an 
honorary figure, more important at the court 
than in the academy itself. This may well have 
been true of one of Catherine's early nominees 
for the office, Waldimir Orlov. On the other 
hand, that family were known to be interested in 
learning. When, however, in 1783, the Empress 
put in as president her friend the Princess 



THE ARTS AND THE SCIENCES 

Daschkov, the former was probably doing more 
service to the academy, and to learning in Russia 
in general, than seemed at the first sight likely. 
The lady who was Horace Walpole's c virago ' 
and Frederick the Great's ' buzzing fly ' had a 
real appreciation and knowledge of learning. 
And, over and above this, the instructions given 
her by the royal patron were of great significance. 
They marked Catherine's comprehension of what 
was evident everywhere, the quickening growth 
of national feeling. The commands to the new 
president were definite. The latter was as far 
as possible to forward the study of Russian, and 
to insist on the use of the Russian tongue in the 
classes and in all the transactions of the college. 
Something was accomplished. Georgi, draw- 
ing up lists of learned works, approved the 
production of a new comprehensive Russian 
grammar; and, significant indeed, after all that 
had happened, an entirely new Russian atlas. 
Of the sixty-six writers, some novelists, but 
mainly literary and scientific authors, whom 
Georgi considered worthy of mention, a -consider- 
able number have Russian names. Lomonosov 
died before Catherine had been very long on 
the throne. But after him, writing in Russian 
as he had done, came Karamzin. The great 
work of the latter, however, the History of the 
Russian State, in which, as has been said, he 
discovered Russia to the Russians, belongs not 
to the reign of Catherine, but to that of her 

253 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

grandson. While thus encouraging the study 
and use of the native language, Catherine 
appointed, in 1768, a special commission to 
supervise translations of foreign works. She 
herself, at various times, rendered some of the 
plays of Shakespeare into Russian. 

All these facts, seen in conjunction with the 
number of both booksellers and printers which 
Georgi gives as flourishing in St. Petersburg 
during the latter years of the reign, reveal a 
vigorous intellectual life within the city, owing 
much to foreign sources, but one in which a 
native literature was pushing its way to the 
light. 

Schools in the capital, over and beyond the 
gymnasium attached to the academy, in particular 
military schools for the sons of officers and for 
other boys intending to follow a military career, 
had received an impetus when Peter the Great 
had decreed compulsory education for the upper 
classes as a part of their obligations to the state. 
This particular obligation had been unpopular 
and was often evaded. But as interest in culture, 
not as an obligation, but for its own sake, had 
progressed, so had the schools. Catherine appears 
to have founded at least one new cadet school. 
Her most famous foundation was not, however, 
for boys, but for girls. In 1772, she sent to 
Voltaire for his inspection a draft of the rules 
she proposed for a school for young ladies after 
the model of the school founded by Madame de 

254 



THE ARTS AND THE SCIENCES 

Maintenon at St. Cyr. The sage replied in terms 
of modified approval. The establishment might, 
he thought, produce a battalion of amazons. 
To that Catherine in her turn replied that the 
intention was neither to turn the young ladies 
into amazons, nor yet into an order of religious. 
Their education, she wrote, was to be designed 
to make them neither prudes nor yet coquettes; 
but rather to fit them to be the delight of any 
family. A home for the school was provided at 
Smolny, on the eastern outskirts of St. Petersburg, 
the corner made by the bend of the Neva as 
it turned to the west and to the sea. There the 
palace was to be built for Potemkin, Prince of 
Tauris. There already stood the convent in 
which Elizabeth had proposed to end her days, 
built around the five-domed cathedral dedicated 
to the Resurrection, convent and cathedral alike 
designed by Rastrelli. Now, adjacent to the 
rococo building which many held to be Rastrelli's 
masterpiece, Catherine added another, to shelter 
her young ladies. The school was to remain the 
most celebrated institution of its kind in St. 
Petersburg, under the particular patronage of the 
sovereign. 

All boys and girls of the upper classes were 
not, however, sent to schools, whether day or 
boarding schools. Georgi mentions the many 
learned tutors engaged to teach in families. Such 
men played a considerable part in the social 
life, and many of them, although their standing 

255 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

varied much, were foreigners of distinction, men 
who in themselves provided a channel for foreign 
influence. 

That influence was also felt in the custom, 
long since approved by Peter the Great, of 
sending boys and young men to western Europe 
for educational purposes. In 1767, the Princess 
Daschkov herself, not yet president of the 
academy, had taken her son to England to place 
him in Westminster School. Thence, in 1772, she 
had proceeded with him to Edinburgh, where 
he had attended the university classes; and the 
princess, given apartments in the palace of Holy- 
rood by the Duke of Hamilton, had revelled in 
the learned society of Edinburgh of the seventeen- 
seventies; the city in which the new town was 
about to be laid out. At HoJyrood the princess 
held receptions, and wrote in her diary that the 
very names of some of her guests, Robertson 
he was then principal of the university Stair, 
Adam Smith and Ferguson, were sufficient to 
denote the privilege and pleasure she enjoyed in 
their society. Adam Smith had not yet published 
his Wealth of Nations. But William Robertson's 
History of the Reign of Charles V had appeared in 
1769, and had won the warm approval of the 
royal mistress of the princess, to whom it had 
been sent. Bearing the sub-title that it was 
intended as a View of the Progress of Society from 
the Subversion of the Roman Empire to the Beginning 
of the Sixteenth Century, and recognized as one of 

256 



THE ARTS AND THE SCIENCES 

the earliest attempts at historical generalization 
based upon an accumulation of facts, it was the 
type of work to appeal to Catherine. To the 
author she wrote that it had become her constant 
companion and added a substantial token of her 
approbation in the form of a gold box set with 
diamonds. 

The education of the boys and girls of the 
upper classes in St. Petersburg was thus well 
provided for, whether at home or abroad. 

Further, Georgi gives details of a number of 
other schools in St. Petersburg, where children 
coming from families of a status below those 
recognized as the upper classes received educa- 
tion. These schools, for boys and for girls, were 
of several different grades ; and some of them, at 
least, were attended by the children of the poor. 
For the year 1789 Georgi gives the total number 
of children in all schools in the capital as 2,607 
boys, and 522 girls. 

Lastly, in 1785, Catherine founded a royal 
school of the theatre. Instruction for the pupils, 
who were to be of Russian nationality, was to 
include the arts of acting, of music, and of the 
dance. It was a step towards the expression of 
the Russian genius for those arts. 

'All these schools belonged to St. Petersburg, 
and it is probable, almost certain, that they 
represented a more advanced system of education 
than was found elsewhere. 

But Moscow had its university and Kiev, with 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

its great traditions, its academy and theological 
college. It was, moreover, in Moscow that 
Catherine set up a girls' school seven years 
before she founded that at Smolny, whose fame 
was so far to exceed that of its sister school. 

There is also evidence that Catherine had plans 
for a system of education that should extend over 
the whole country ; a principle that had been laid 
down in the statutes drawn up for the academy. 
Here, as in so many other matters, Catherine had 
sought inspiration from what was happening 
elsewhere. It was in the first half of the seventeen- 
sixties, those early years of her reign, when she was 
drawing up her instructions, and calling her 
assembly to consider the government of Russia, 
that she had been thinking of education in Russia ; 
and, in 1764, had sent forth a commission to the 
British Isles, to report on the universities and 
schools found there, and from the material thus 
collected, to draw up suggestions for the 
introduction into Russia of a new system of 
education. 

The survey comprehensive indeed covered 
the universities of Great Britain, the public 
schools, the endowed and grammar schools; 
boarding and day schools in country districts, 
and lastly such charity schools as the chartered 
schools in Ireland, founded in 1733 by Royal 
Patent, and what were known as Welsh 
Circulating Schools. 

After the report came the recommendations 



THE ARTS AND THE SCIENCES 

for Russia. Beginning on the lowest rung of 
the ladder, it was suggested that lesser, or 
primary schools should be set up in villages for 
the benefit of .the poorer class of the inhabitants. 
In these schools the subjects of instruction were 
to be chiefly religion and reading, but writing 
and a very little arithmetic might be added, 
'although these may be subject to abuse*. 
T!ie force of the latter remark is seen in the 
additional recommendation that it was primarily 
necessary to accustom the children of the poor 
to industry, to propriety of behaviour, and to 
great economy. 

Schools of the next rank were to be seminaries, 
gymnasiums and colleges, for the children of all 
classes of free persons. The curriculum suggested 
included languages, both living and dead. 

Finally, there was to be an extended scheme 
of universities, academies, military training estab- 
lishments, and so forth. 

No investigation has so far determined to 
what extent any attempt was made to put any 
part of the suggested scheme into practice. 
Catherine, however, was not the only person 
in her realm who was concerned about education. 
Some at least of the nobles and gentry thought 
on the same lines as did their Empress ; and even 
had instructions drawn up for the education of 
the children of peasants on their estates. Such 
instructions were not, it is true, as a rule on the 
generous side. It was usually suggested that the 

259 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

teachers should be the parish clergy, and that 
the cost should be met by a tax on the residents. 
Moreover, reminiscent of the report of Catherine's 
commissioners, these instructions insisted that 
education must not go too far in the case of the 
poor. Even an advanced thinker and humani- 
tarian such as Rychkov, a member of the Free 
Economical Society, thought that only a select 
number of children should be taught to write, 
and these taken from the well-to-do peasant 
class. If, it was said, the peasant learns to write, 
he will be able to forge a passport. Possible 
mobility of the peasant worker was a recurrent 
nightmare, whether the employer owner were the 
state or a private person. 

The opinion of Mr. James Mavor, expressed 
in his Economic History oj Russia, is that while it 
is impossible that any general public system of 
education obtained in the latter years of Catherine, 
there nevertheless existed for the poorer classes 
a number of schools in St. Petersburg, and other 
towns, to which in many cases landowners sent 
the children of their dependents; and in the 
country a certain number of widely scattered 
peasant schools. There was not, he thinks, 
anything like complete illiteracy. That at all 
times an unusually gifted and determined boy 
could rise, in spite of all drawbacks and hind- 
rances, is shown by the careers of such men as 
Lomonosov and Shibanov. 

In yet another direction Catherine stimulated 

260 



THE ARTS AND THE SCIENCES 

the advance of science with considerable success. 
This was the science of medicine. 

Peter the Great had instituted a system of 
hospitals ; considerably expanded by his successor, 
the Empress Anne. Either at the end of the one 
reign or the beginning of the other, a medical 
chancery had been founded. In 1769, Catherine 
turned this chancery into a college with president 
and fellows, and statutes which gave it supreme 
oversight of medical affairs in all Russia. Georgi 
noted the presence, in Catherine's St. Petersburg, 
of a considerable number of both surgeons and 
doctors. He added a not unimpressive list of the 
then existing hospitals, including a certain 
number of state institutions for those unable to 
pay for themselves. Moscow and other towns 
also had their hospitals. There is also evidence 
for the existence of a large number of doctors 
elsewhere than in the capital, including the 
villages. As might be expected, Russia, partic- 
ularly in the more remote districts, differed not 
at all from other countries in having a large 
number of those who were termed quacks. 
The inference can be drawn from the accounts 
of travellers that, as was also the case elsewhere, 
some of these quacks gave treatment by no 
means bad in- itself, others offered something 
approaching witchcraft. 

But an interesting point was the presence in 
Russia, from at least the end of the sixteenth 
century onwards, and continuing throughout the 

261 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

reign of Catherine, of a large number of stranger 
doctors and among these a high proportion drawn 
from England and Scotland. Doctor Dee, the 
doctor son of the astrologer of Elizabeth of 
England, had been only one among several to 
practise in Russia during the early seventeenth 
century. Others had followed in his train, so 
freely, that by the middle of the next century 
there was said to be no town of any size within 
the boundaries of Russia in which a Scots or 
English doctor, or failing that, an apothecary 
of either nation, could not be found. These 
foreigners many of them settled in Russia and 
founded families there were not invariably 
popular. S6gur had little good to say of Dr. 
John Rogerson of Dumfries, who, arriving in 
Russia in 1 766, was highly esteemed by Catherine, 
and was appointed court physician. This gentle- 
man, wrote Sgur sourly, dabbled as much in 
politics as in medicine, and did pretty well out of 
both. The last remark appears to have been 
undeniably true. Rogerson, whose stay in Russia 
extended over twenty years, and who accompanied 
the Empress on the progress to the Crimea and 
received to Sgur's great annoyance a sword in 
commemoration, is known to have returned to 
Dumfries with sufficient wealth to buy a substan- 
tial estate and build himself a fine mansion thereon. 
More interesting than the coming of Dr. Rogerson 
to Russia was the arrival there of the Quaker 
physician, Dr. Thomas Dimsdale; not as an 

262 



THE ARTS AND THE SCIENCES 

adventurer but especially summoned by the 
Empress in 1768, in consequence of his reputation 
in the practice of inoculation for smallpox; on the 
method of which he had, in 1767, published a 
treatise. 

The smallpox had long taken a terrible toll in 
Russia. Catherine had a personal fear of the 
disease, perhaps in consequence of the attack 
sustained by her husband on the visit to Kiev. 
That fear was particularly noted on two occasions 
at least; once when she found one of her personal 
attendants was a victim and another time when 
she believed she herself had taken the infection, 
although the illness proved to be the measles. 
There is also every reason to believe that she 
was genuinely concerned with the epidemics 
which swept the country and genuinely interested 
in what she had learnt of a new method of over- 
coming them. So Dr. Dimsdale was brought over, 
and since example was important the operation 
was performed in semi-public, in a house on the 
island where stood the fortress and cathedral of 
St. Peter and St. Paul. The experiment was 
viewed with no particular favour by many of 
those around Catherine and still less by the 
populace at large. Those who had advocated or 
had undergone inoculation in its early stages in 
England and elsewhere had had the same 
experience. In the case of Dr. Dimsdale, so hostile 
was said to Ipt the feeling against him in St. 
Petersburg, partly doubtless induced by the fact 

263 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

of his being a stranger, that Catherine ordered 
post horses to be ready at any moment in case 
he should have to flee. But all went well. The 
Quaker doctor returned to his native Bucking- 
hamshire by way of Prussia, where he paid a 
visit to Frederick the Great enriched by a 
fee of 10,000 down, an allowance of 2,000 for 
expenses and an annuity of 500. In addition he 
was made a councillor of state in Russia with the 
hereditary title of baron and given the right to 
a new coat of arms. Coming once more to Russia 
in 1784 he inoculated, among others, Catherine's 
two grandsons, who three years later were pro- 
claimed by their parents to be suffering from the 
disease in a slight form when summoned to 
join their grandmother's progress to the Crimea. 
By this time the practice of inoculation seems to 
have spread somewhat and a state hospital, also 
on an island, to which anyone might resort for 
the treatment, had been established. 

It should be added that the scientist, William 
Tooke, a Fellow of the Royal Society in England, 
and a member of the Imperial Academy of Science 
and of the Free Economical Society in St. Peters- 
burg, resident for many years in Russia, remarked, 
in his View of the Russian Empire During the Reign 
of Catherine //, which he published in London in 
1799, that, in his opinion, some form of inocula- 
tion may well have been practised in the further 
parts of Russia before Catherine's time ; introduced 
from the east where it had certainly been utilized 

264 



THE ARTS AND THE SCIENCES 

long before Lady Mary Wortley- Montagu, return- 
ing from Constantinople in 1721, had cried aloud 
its virtues. 

During the seventeen-seventies another 
infectious fever even more alarming than the 
smallpox terrified a great part of Russia. After 
years of quiescence the plague reappeared. It was 
recognized that the infection was brought by the 
soldiers who had served in Turkey. Striking first, 
as might be expected, on the frontiers, it swept 
through the villages, destroying in at least one 
instance all the inhabitants of the place within a 
few days. Penetrating towards the interior, it 
reached Moscow ; and the spring and summer of 
1771 saw one of the most fearful epidemics which 
that city, inured of old to them, had ever experi- 
enced. For some years at least, further outbreaks 
occurred. They were associated, and probably 
rightly so, not only with the Turkish war but 
with Pugachev and his men. They certainly 
helped to intensify the terror excited in Moscow 
and the surrounding districts by that rebel and his 
followers. 

What, apart from epidemics, was the general 
state of health throughout Russia with which 
Catherine's medical college was expected to cope 
is, of course, impossible to estimate. William 
Tooke, for one, declared that, save in one 
particular, the Russians were more healthy than 
other nations with which he was acquainted, and 
gave as the reason for this that both rich and poor 

265 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

trusted very little in doctors, and took but little 
medicine ; while all alike made great use of the 
sweating or vapour baths. The cynical attitude 
towards treatment by doctors can be matched 
anywhere and everywhere. Sir James Harris, 
while in Russia, had the misfortune on one occasion 
to be thrown from his coach and to receive wounds 
in his neck. He wrote to his family that they need 
feel no anxiety since he had cured himself by 
pouring brandy and water into the wounds and 
keeping all surgeons away. 

The vapour baths and hot baths always had 
been, and continued to be, the subject of domment 
by all travellers. Many agreed with William 
Tooke that they were valuable for health reasons ; 
but others said that they did not really make for 
cleanliness in the case of the poor since the 
Russian of the lower classes obstinately kept to one 
set of garments it is likely that many would have 
only possessed one set although these were some- 
times washed with himself on the occasion of a 
visit to a bath. 

Tooke, however, while approving the baths, 
disapproved of the habit of drinking to excess, 
which, he declared, was all too common; and, 
which, in his opinion, accounted for the high 
number of deaths among males in middle life, as 
compared with the exceptionally low rate of 
mortality among infants, children and adolescents 
and women of all ages. But against Tooke's 
account must be set the terrible effects of the 

266 



THE ARTS AND THE SCIENCES 

famine and fevers which constantly swept the 
country. Nor do all writers agree with his 
conclusions. 

More scientific exploration for which Catherine 
may have been directly responsible was the send- 
ing forth of expeditions into the furthermost parts 
of Russia to examine, in Tooke's words, the nature 
of the inhabitants, the soil, the vegetable and 
mineral wealth. This practice had already 
obtained under Peter the Great. Catherine's 
decision to continue was made, according to 
Tooke, in 1767. The first party set off in 1768. 
The leader was Samuel Gmelin, physician, of 
Tubingen. He was accompanied by four students, 
an apothecary, a huntsman, a draftsman and an 
escort of soldiers. Their destination was the 
Persian frontier. There they remained during four 
years. Then fate overtook them. They were 
captured by Persian bandits, and Gmelin, at 
least, died in prison. His writings were subse- 
quently recovered, although with difficulty. Among 
his successors several were of his own nationality, 
including Professor Pallas, who was to advise on 
the cultivation of the Ukraine. One at least was a 
Swede Professor Falk from Upsala and others 
were Russian. The district covered ranged fronp 
the White Sea to the Caspian. Some of the 
explorers remained away for six years; none for 
less than two years. Some, like Gmelin, never 
returned. Levitz, the astronomer, was seized by 
Pugachev's men, tortured and killed. Professor 

267 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

Folk committed suicide. Among those who did 
return was Johann Georgi himself whose special 
area was the Ural district, where he collected facts 
so dear to his heart, on flora, fauna and minerals, 
not to speak of soil and weather conditions. For 
obvious reasons, connected with their mineral 
wealth, the Urals were what they had long been, 
the chief attraction for exploration. But it was 
Catherine who first ordered a survey to be made 
of the Caucasus and Georgia, sending thither in 
1768 two German scientists, Doctors Guldenstadt 
and Reinegg, to report on regions whose history 
went back two thousand years, to be intermingled 
with legend and fable. 



2268 



Chapter Twelve 

The Last Years 

EINBECK, the German traveller, gave in 
of his letters a picture of Catherine as he 
saw her, during the last years of her life. The 
chestnut hair was snowy white; and the cheeks 
much rouged ; but the blue eyes were as bright as 
ever. The corpulency upon which Segur had 
remarked ten or twelve years before had now, if 
anything, increased; and was more noticeable 
because the figure, which had never been very 
tall, had now become almost squat. Nevertheless, 
dignity and grandeur were, as ever, embodied in 
the bearing, particularly in the poise of the head 
the carriage of that head seldom failed to be com- 
mented upon. Reinbeck added that he had seen 
the Empress chiefly in her own apartments, since, 
at the time when he knew her, she appeared but 
seldom in public. She was, he said, usually dressed 
in a loose robe which was a combination of the 
Oriental and the European, an endorsement of 
Sdgur's earlier description of the garment favoured 
by the Empress. Reinbeck, with a little more 
kindness than the Frenchman had displayed, added 
that the cut was certainly most suitable for a 
matron's wear. 

269 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

Here, in her old age, seated in the rooms 
designed for her in the Hermitage or, as another 
wrote of her about the same time, slowly pacing 
the gallery that Cameron had built for her in 
Tsarskoe Selo, was the woman who had done great 
things for the country of her adoption. The Greek 
Empire and the Kingdom of Dacia might still be 
no more than dreams ; but the Black Sea had been 
reached; and Sevastopol and Odessa were wit- 
nesses to that triumphal advance. Catherine 
was justified when she exclaimed that coming to 
Russia a dowerless bride, she had provided her 
own marriage portion in the shape of the Crimea. 
Eastward and southward had been penetration 
into the Urals, the Caucasus, Georgia, the utter- 
most parts of Russia's domains, even beyond, to 
explore their resources. And on the west, the 
boundary of the Russian state now ran, by the 
absorption of Courland, and the policy whether 
a wise policy or no of the partition of Poland, 
from the mouth of the Niemen on the north to 
that of the Dniester on the south. 

So had the frontiers moved forward. There 
had been expansion of another kind. Russia, 
looked on hitherto, even after Peter the Great had 
opened the window to the west, as interesting, in 
many respects important, but always remote, was 
now recognized as having taken her place among 
the European powers. The views and intentions 
of St. Petersburg counted for as much, must be as 
carefully considered, as those of Vienna, of Paris, 

270 



THE LAST YEARS 

of Berlin, of London, and herein the position to 
which the Empress had attained, among her fellow 
rulers, among the statesmen of Europe, had been a 
potent factor. 

And much had been accomplished within 
Russia itself. To that, the academies of the Arts 
and Sciences with their ramifications: the new 
buildings; the vigorous intellectual life, at least 
within the two capitals, displaying, amid that 
which had been transplanted from the west, the 
strong young growth of a national culture; all 
alike bore witness. 

But for these things a price had to be paid. The 
cost of the successive wars had been enormous. 
And to this had to be added the expenditure of 
the court and all that appertained to its elegant 
grandeur. The crown mines, the vast crown lands, 
helped to provide an income for the ruler of 
Russia beyond the dreams of other crowned heads 
in Europe. But what was spent out-paced even 
that income. The full effects of the extravagant 
spending upon the economic life of the country 
were felt only after Catherine's day. But already 
there were underground rumblings of discontent, 
not solely concerned with serfdom, which spoke 
of trouble to come. Harris was not the only 
one who foretold a possible revolution of a kind 
that, as he wrote to his government at home, 
might well go to great lengths. 

It is vain to speculate whether the achievements 
of the reign and they were great achievements 

271 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

could have been accomplished otherwise; with 
more attention paid to their cost, not only in 
money but in the economic and social factors 
involved. The question is tied up with that of the 
vast, the unwieldy, the traditional administrative 
system of Russia. In fairness to Catherine, it must 
be remembered that like some of those around her, 
she was aware of the problems arising out of the 
flaws in that system. She had drawn up the 
Instructions. She had called her Commission. And 
next to nothing had happened. There had been 
the partially successful attempts to alter the- 
provincial administration. There had been a few 
changes in the composition and working of the 
senate and the higher departments. But these 
were far from constituting anything approaching 
a reform of the government of the country. And 
the record of the treatment of what Catherine had, 
in her early years as Empress, recognized as the 
running sore of the government, serfdom, was 
grim enough. 

One factor making for the increased depression 
of the position of the serfs derived directly from the 
1762 edict. Released from obligatory service, 
many of the nobles and gentry went to live on 
their estates, whether large or small and a 
number were quite small, little more than farms. 
But all, save the smallest which could be, and 
often were, worked by the owner and his family, 
required labour. Further, yet more workers were 
needed as the ranks of the serf-owners were 

272 



THE LAST YEARS 

perpetually swelled by newcomers, who, in accord- 
ance with the system of grading in the depart- 
ments, were given the status of gentry, along with 
lands. At the same time the reconstruction of the 
system of provincial government gave all these 
landowners, save the most lowly, more and more 
control over local justice and administration. 
Many of the changes were based on good prin- 
ciples. But the result for the serf was to make his 
master also his magistrate and his policeman. 

Then, in 1785, came an edict from Catherine 
which recognised the nobility as a separate estate, 
having particular rights and privileges. It was not 
an isolated edict, nor was it intended to be one 
promulgated solely for the advantage of the land- 
owners. It was part of a general policy whereby 
Catherine was seeking to develop the idea of 
dividing the nation into estates generally. Another 
edict of the same year endeavoured, while giving 
charters to the more important towns, to create 
an estate of merchants and others ; an attempt 
which was destined to come to very little or 
nothing. The position of the merchant remained a 
peculiar problem. But the creation of the estate 
of nobles did no good to the serfs. 

Catherine must also be held responsible, when 
Russia advanced southwards, for the introduction 
of serfdom into the Ukraine, where it had been 
hitherto unknown. And it was she who made 
grants of serfs with lands, particularly to her 
favourites, on a far greater scale than had been 

273 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

done previously. It might be said that, given the 
conditions prevailing in Russia, with agriculture 
and serfdom tied together, it had been necessary to 
do these things, particularly in the Ukraine with its 
rich lands awaiting development and its shortage 
of labour, until the question of serfdom could be 
dealt with as a whole. And it is to Catherine's 
credit that some foreign observers, Sgur among 
them, were of the opinion that on the whole, at 
any rate during the first part of the reign, a certain 
mildness of treatment of serfs was evident and was 
directly due to the influence of the Empress. The 
latter did, in fact, issue edicts, among others, 
which forbade the landowners to inflict savage 
punishment on their serfs, or to dispose of them by 
public sale ; edicts often evaded. 

Nevertheless, throughout, Catherine was capit- 
ulating, in greater or less degree, to the difficulties 
and complexities of the social structure, of which 
the landowners and serfdom were an integral part. 
In 1790 came a happening which made evident 
to what extent that capitulation had gone ; what 
an alteration in disposition and that not for the 
better had occurred in Catherine herself. 

There is probably no time when some persons 
at least are not aware of the moral evils of their 
epoch. The eighteenth century in Russia was no 
exception to the rule. There were those who were 
conscious of the ethical as well as the political 
problems of serfdom ; and the Empress was not 
the only one in the realm to have read and 



THE LAST YEARS 

absorbed the ideas of the philosophers and the 
humanitarians. Expression of opinion was hardly 
easy. Yet opinion was expressed. In 1790, a cus- 
toms house official, Raditschev, published a book 
which had the seemingly innocent title of 
A Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow. In truth it 
contained an outspoken and relentless description 
of serfdom and its evils. A wave of fury agitated 
the greater part of the landowning class. What 
Raditschev had said was unforgivable; and the 
possible results, in the view of the nobility, 
appalling. Thus affronted, they carried Catherine 
with them. Raditschev was sent to Siberia. His 
own comment on the situation was as true a one 
as could be made. He had written, he said, just 
a few years too late. His book held no pronounce- 
ment that did not correspond with those made 
earlier by the Empress. 

Raditschev was very right. Catherine in 1790 
had travelled a long way from the Empress who 
had meditated on the evils of serfdom and had 
drawn up the Instructions. The passing of the years 
had brought about other changes than those 
noticed in her personal appearance. It would 
have been a remarkable woman indeed, of great 
humility of soul, who could have resisted the 
corroding effects of the absolutism of the Russian 
crown ; of the successes that attended her reign ; 
of the incense offered to her wisdom by the very 
men coming from whom it was most flattering. 
And humility of soul did not belong to Catherine. 

275 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

Since Sir James Harris, on his arrival in St. 
Petersburg, had written of the deterioration 
remarked in the character of the Empress, and 
had assigned reasons for it, none could fail to 
notice that the process had gathered impetus. 
Everything to which the English Ambassador 
had referred success; flattery; sensuality, ex- 
pressed in the long line of young lovers liad 
continued to do its work on the supreme auto- 
crat. And, in particular, two events, one within 
and one without Russia, contributed to a 
hardening of Catherine's heart. The first was the 
rebellion of Pugachev ; the other was the French 
Revolution ; the shadow of the last was already 
well over the horizon when Raditschev produced 
his book. Each of these events, in its degree, 
angered the Empress; may have frightened her, 
though she was not easily frightened. But each 
and this may well have been their most significant 
effect was also profoundly shocking to her self- 
esteem as a ruler. Her attitude can be summed up 
in the remark made by Maurice Baring, that lover 
of Russia, when he wrote that the one thing that 
an autocrat, however enlightened, finds difficulty 
in understanding is a revolution. How should it 
not be so since the essence of benevolent despotism 
is that the decisions of its representative are, in 
his or her own opinion, invariably founded upon 
wisdom and righteous judgment? 

Yet, underneath all, however intertwined with, 
and overlaid by, other strands of conduct, 

276 



THE LAST YEARS 

Catherine's conviction that her metier was to 
govern, according to the principles in which she 
continued to the very end to announce her 
belief, persisted. It was in character that, during 
the decade before the French revolution, she 
should have sought to project these principles into 
the future, when she determined that they should 
form the basis of the education of the boy whom 
she almost certainly intended to be her direct 
successor. 

As the years went on, it was noticed that the 
relations between Catherine and her son did not 
improve. It appears certain that the situation 
was greatly aggravated by intrigues ol which, 
during the last years of his life, Nikita Panin was 
the centre. A good deal of evidence goes to show 
that Panin played or endeavoured to play, with 
respect to the young court, precisely the same part 
that Bestiizhev had played earlier. Panin was no 
Bestiizhev; and the Grand-duke Paul and his 
duchess were very far from the stature of the 
Grand-duchess Catherine. Nevertheless, the latter 
as Empress had good reason to know what this 
repetition of history might imply. Paul and his 
wife were kept at Gatchina, more rigidly in the 
background than ever and were ever more 
carefully watched. And history repeated itself 
in yet another way. The Empress Elizabeth 
had gradually become aware of the deficiencies 
of the nephew whom she had chosen to succeed 
her. Catherine in her turn became aware of the 

277 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

deficiencies of her son. There was, indeed, in Paul 
so much that recalled Peter III as to justify the 
conclusion that the two were father and son. It 
was upon the grand-children that the hopes of the 
grandmother were set. 

The relations of Catherine with the boys 
Alexander and Gonstantine were from the first 
close. That she loved the two as she loved few 
others there is little doubt. From the earliest days 
she had sought to win their affection in return; 
she had picture books made for them; she wrote 
for them tales of early Russian history; tales 
which were intended to develop, but did not, 
into a complete history of Russia. Later when 
she was away from them as on the progress 
to the Crimea, or they from her as when the 
Grand-duke Alexander visited Finland, a constant 
correspondence was kept up ; and Bruckner pro- 
nounces these letters the most charming of all 
Catherine ever wrote. And with her love went her 
plans for the future, a future in which she could 
not share but which she desired to mould. The 
influence she exercised on Alexander was great. 
It was equalled by that of the tutor she chose for 
him. That choice bridged the gulf between the 
Catherine of the later years and the young 
Empress who had worked on the Instructions. 

Frederick Caesar la Harpe had distinguished 
himself as a young man in his native canton of 
Vaux by the vigour with which he had pressed 
the claims of that independently minded district 

278 



THE LAST YEARS 

against the overbearing aristocratic autocracy of 
the wealthy canton of Berne. So vehemently had 
he conducted this opposition that the advisability 
of a short absence from his country was suggested 
to him. He, a rebel against the established order 
and an ardent would-be reformer of that order, 
had already made the acquaintance of Grimm. 
Through the good offices of the latter he was 
appointed in 1782 as tutor to a son of the nobility 
in St. Petersburg. It was probably Grimm who 
had drawn Catherine's attention to the new 
arrival ; although the latter was known both* to 
Catherine and the Grand-duke Paul by repute. 
Once he was in St. Petersburg it was certainly 
a very short time before the Empress entered into 
communication with him and presently desired 
him to send her a memoir of his views. The memoir 
was sent. It reflected, through the medium of 
a lofty and even noble mind, all that la Harpe had 
learned from the encyclopaedists who had been 
Catherine's teachers too; and it included an 
exposition of the doctrine inserted in the Instruc- 
tions', that the sovereign exists for the people. 
There was some discussion and then la Harpe, the 
republican reformer, found himself appointed as 
tutor to Catherine's grandsons: to whom, but 
particularly to Alexander, he expounded, clearly 
with the consent of the Empress, his liberal 
theories of government. Yet all did not go quite 
smoothly. The eight or nine years over which la 
Harpe's stay in St. Petersburg was prolonged 

C.G. 10 279 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

were punctuated by accusations brought against 
him by those both inside and outside of Russia, 
who disliked and mistrusted his political ideas. 
Undoubtedly at one time he was unwise in using 
his position to interfere, on behalf of his beloved 
canton of Vaux and her claims, in affairs at home. 
Catherine gave him sound advice when she told 
him roundly that that kind of thing, coming from 
St. Petersburg, would not do. She herself evidently 
liked him to the end, and seems to have wished 
for his continued stay in St. Petersburg even after 
the marriage of his elder pupil. But opposing 
forces were too much for her. She submitted to 
the inevitable and allowed the marriage to a 
Princess of Baden to be made the occasion for 
getting rid of the tutor. La Harpe returned, not 
to Vaux, but to Geneva to carry on his fight there. 

In July, 1796, a third son was born to the 
Grand-duke Paul and his Grand-duchess. The 
child, nineteen years younger than his brother 
Alexander, was baptized as Nicholas. 

On 1 7 December in the same year, Sir James 
Harris, now Lord Malmesbury and ambassador 
to the French republic, wrote, at ten o'clock at 
night, to Canning, then Secretary for Foreign 
Affairs, a letter in which he said that for some time 
past a report of the death of the Empress of 
Russia had been circulated in Paris. To this report 
he himself had hitherto given no credence, since, 
he said, the Empress was always getting killed off 
just about this time of the year. He had, however, 

280 



THE LAST YEARS 

now received official confirmation that the state- 
ment was correct. Catherine had died a month 
since. 

On 5 November (16 November, N.S.) the 
Empress had held a small salon in the Hermitage, 
at which she appeared to be in high spirits, 
although certain signs of age and failing health 
had for some time been noticed by those around 
her. The following day, after granting some inter- 
views, she remained alone in her private room in 
the Winter Palace. Prolonged silence alarmed 
the court. The door was broken open and 
Catherine discovered prone and senseless by her 
writing table. She never recovered consciousness; 
and died the next day. A prolonged lying-in-state 
in the chapel of the palace ; and then the body was 
taken to the cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul. 
There, when the long solemn litany with which 
the Orthodox Church said farewell to its dead was 
chanted, the coffin was placed in the vault below 
the floor of the building. It was not placed there 
alone. With it was lowered into the vault another 
coffin, on the drapery of which also rested an 
imperial crown. Paul, proclaimed Emperor at 
last, had ordered that the coffin of Peter III should 
be brought from the monastery of St. Alexander 
Nevski, where it had lain for thirty-four years, to 
be set, in that funeral ceremony, with that of 
Catherine the shadow of Peter beside her at the 



It was generally believed that a document in 

281 



CATHERINE THE GREAT 

which Catherine had nominated Alexander as her 
successor had been prepared, and that only the 
suddenness of the end had saved Paul from 
exclusion from the throne. Four and a half years 
later he lay dead on the floor in his bedroom, 
strangled by the scarf of one of the conspirators 
who had burst into his chamber at midnight. 
And Alexander, the enigmatic Alexander, the 
grandson of Catherine, the pupil of la Harpe, 
succeeded to the glories and the problems that 
were Russia. But Alexander left no heir. Constan- 
tine, his brother, so far from becoming a Greek 
Emperor, as his grandmother had planned for 
him, declined even the Russian crown. The 
inheritance passed to the third brother, Nicholas, 
who, at the time of Catherine's death, had been 
a babe of six months ; and through him the line 
descended. 

In February, 1905, one hundred and seven 
years after the death of Catherine, an exhibition 
was held in St. Petersburg. The patron was the 
Emperor, another Nicholas, the great-grandson of 
the first of that name ; the last of his line. The 
organizer was Serge Diaghilev. The place was the 
Tauride Palace. The subject was a collec- 
tion of historic Russian portraits, dating from 
1705 to 1905, gathered from all over Russia. An 
English woman, the wife of Charles Williams, one 
who, like Maurice Baring, loved Russia, walked 
through the gilded rooms; looked out from the 
tall windows set in their elaborate frames. Here, 

282 



THE LAST YEARS 

in all the self-confident magnificence of the 
eighteenth century, was the building that Cather- 
ine had caused to be erected for Potemkin ; a token 
of her love, her gratitude, her pride. Here lay the 
park; the lakes; the pavilions; the gardens for 
which the advice of Capability Brown had been 
sought. From the walls of the room devoted to 
the reign of Catherine, she herself, the ladies 
of her court, the men who had served her, among 
them the one-time owner of the Palace, looked 
down. And there, wrote the visitor, where the 
Prince of Tauris had so often entertained his 
Empress, was embodied the farewell of old Russia 
to the new. 



283 



For Further Reading 

The literature of the period is vast. This short 
bibliography is intended merely to suggest certain 
standard works to the reader as starting-points for 
further study, 

GENERAL: 

The relevant chapters in Cambridge Modern 
History, volume VI, The Eighteenth Century; and 
in Sir Bernard Pares* History of Russia. Both 
volumes contain full bibliographies, to which 
reference should be made. 

BIOGRAPHY: 

Alexander Bruckner. Katherine die %weite. This 
is particularly valuable in the use made of 
original sources and in the footnotes and 
references. 

POLAND: 

Cambridge History of Poland, 1697-1935, ed. 
W. F. Reddaway, etc. 

TURKEY: 

Albert Sorel. La question f Orient au Dix- 
huitttme Siicle. 

DOCUMENTS AND CORRESPONDENCE: 

A selection in an English translation from the 
correspondence between Catherine II and 
Voltaire has been edited by W. F. Reddaway 

284 



in the volume called Documents of Catherine 
the Great. This volume contains also the 
Instructions in the English text of 1768. In 
his introduction Mr. Reddaway gives his 
reasons for concluding that the letters to 
Voltaire were of Catherine's own composition, 
concerning which queries have arisen. Mr. 
Reddaway's decision has been accepted in the 
present volume. Among the other collections 
of Catherine's letters, to which references are 
made in the text, may be mentioned, as an 
example of her early writing, The Correspon- 
dence of Catherine the Great when Grand-duchess, 
with Sir Charles Hanbuiy-Williams y edited by the 
Earl of Ilchester and Mrs. Langford-Brooke. 

PERSONAL MEMOIRS OF CATHERINE: 

The authoritative edition is that of A. Herzen 
(French English). In the present volume it 
is assumed that the memoirs are genuine, 
but they must be read remembering that they 
represent what Catherine wished to think, 
and wished others to think, about her actions 
and character. 

SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC: 

James Mavor. The Economic History of Russia. 

ART: 

Louis Reau. UArt Russe, vol. ii. The fine 
photography of Prince Georgis Loukomski's 
Charles Cameron has a particular value when 
so much of that architect's work has gone for 
ever. The booklet entitled Russian Art, edited 
by D. Talbot Rice, published for the Exhibi- 
tion of Russian Art in London, 1935, contains 
much valuable information in a small space. 

DESCRIPTIVE : 

Contemporary accounts of life in Russia by 

' Johann Georgi, William Tooke and C. 

Reinbeck are mentioned in the text. For the 

285 



story of the city of St. Petersburg there can 
be recommended Charles Marsden, Palmyra 
of the North. Only the last few pages are, 
however, devoted to the reign of Catherine. 
The best novel dealing with the period is 
A. Pushkin's tale of the rebellion of Pugachev. 
It has been translated several times into 
English under the tide The Captain's Daughter. 
The latest translation is that of 1915, by 
T. Keane. 

In addition to the above the student may like to 
know of two articles on the bibliography of Russian 
History. The first, by Sir Bernard Pares, appeared 
in History, vol. IV (1919), pp. 23-29. The second, 
by Leo Loewenson, in the same periodical, vol. 
XXVIII, No. 1 08, new series, September 1943. 



286 



Index 



Abdul Hamid, sultan of 

Turkey, 195, 199 
Aegean Sea, 137, 146 
Ailesbury, countess of, 80 
Aix-la-Chapelle, treaty of, 28, 

34 
Akkcrman, 199 

Aktier, bay of, 185 

Albania, 137, 180 

Alexander I, emperor of 

Russia, 174, 187, 227, 254, 

264, 278, 279, 280, 282 
Alexandria, 195 
America, 217 
Anhalt-Zerbst, Prince Chris- 

tian August of, governor of 

Stettin, i, 10, 1 8 
Anhalt-Zerbst, Princess 

Johanna of, i, 2, 5,6, 9-11, 
23-8, 3 44, 



54-5, 85, 190 
Anhalt-Zerbst, Sophie Auguste 

Frederika of, afterwards 

Catherine II of Russia, 

passim 
Anne, duchess of Courland, 

empress of Russia, 4, 23, 

in, 229, 261 
Apratkin, General Stephan, 

A 5 !f 5 ' 5 ? 
Archangel, 37, i x r 

Armenians, 247 

Asia, 67, no, 247 

Augustus II, elector of Saxony, 

king of Poland, 116 
Augustus III, elector of Saxony, 

lung of Poland, 112, 116-17, 

1 20 
Austria and Austrians, 7, 8, 26, 

45, 48-9, 5', 54. 57, 59, 63, 



90, 116, 121, 125, 128, 139- 
42, 144, 176-7, 180-1, 184, 
201, 203-4, 2io-i i, 213, 246 

Austrian Succession, war of, 7, 
28 

Azov, Sea of, 130-1, 146 

Baden, princess*of, 280 

Bain, Nisbet, 79 

Balkans, no, 132, 139 

Baltic coast, 10, 200 

Baltic Germans, 1 1 1 

Baltic Sea, 59, 110-11,113,118, 

136, 210, 215 
Bar (Barrow), confederation of, 

126, 141, 143-4 
Baring, Maurice, 276, 282 
Bavaria, 176, 177; elector, 176 
Beccaria, 100 
Belgrade, 199 
Bentham, Jeremy, 186 
Bentham, Sir Samuel, 185-6, 

245 
Berlin, 10, 42, 46, 58, 93, 170, 

183, 209, 271 ; Academy, 

104 

Bessarabia, 180, 194 
Bestuzhev-Ryumin, 8, 19, 25- 

8, 3*~4, 36, 43-7, 49-56, 

90, 277 
Bezborodko, 176, 178, 187, 

200, 207 
Bibikov, general, 105, 161, 

163-4, 166, 169 
Biron, ruler of Courland, 1 1 1- 

12, 118 
Black Sea, no, 113, 130-3, 

135, H6, 174, 182, 187, 195, 

208, 210, 270; south shore, 



287 



INDEX 



Bosphorus, 130, 174, 185 
Bourbons, 139, an 
Boznia, 199 

Boznia-Herzegovina, 180 
Brandenburg, no 
Brcslau, 7, 62 
Brest-Litovsk, 113 
Brian-Chianinov, 39-40 
Brown, Lancelot (Capability), 

228, 283 
Bruckner, Dr. Alexander, 44, 

75, 88, 198, 278 
Bucharest, 135, 145, 195 
Buckinghamshire, earl of, 85, 

135-6, 171 
Bug, river, 131, 146, 179, 185, 

198 

Bulgaria, 180 

Burke, Edmund, 204-5, 2O 9> 2 * 3 
Bush, John, 228, 243, 245 
Bute, Lord, 63 



Cameron, James, 227, 245, 270 
Canning, George, 280 
Carpathians, no 
Carr, Fraulein, 35 
Caspian Sea, 154, 267 
Catherine I, 14, 84, 251 
Catherine II, the Great, passim 
Caucasus, 184, 186, 268, 270 
Chancellor, Richard, 1 1 1 
Charles VI, emperor, 7 
Charles Edward, prince, 5 
Charles Peter, nephew of 

empress Elizabeth, see Peter 

III 
Charles of Saxony, duke of 

Courland, 112, 117-18 
Chdtardie, marquis de la, 26, 

27,28 
Chios, 137 
Choiseul, Etienne de, duke of 

128, 139 

Coke of Norfolk, 205 
Constantine, grand-duke, 1 74- 

5, 180-1, 187, 264, 278-9, 

282 

288 



Constantinople, 130-2, 138-9, 
141, 143, 147, 175, 185, 
190-1, 194, 195-6, 202, 207, 
265; church of St. Sophia, 
129, 174; Galata suburb, 
147 ; prison of Seven Towers 

*95 

Cook, Dr. John, 16 
Copenhagen, 12, 89 
Cossacks, 5, 52, 58, 133-5, 146, 

'53, 156, 159, 164, 166-7, 

184, 197 
Courland, 110-12, 117, 213, 

270; rulers of, in, 112, 118 
Cracow, 144, 212, 213; 

bishop of, 209 
Crete, 180 
Crimea, 130-4, 146, 182-3, 

185-7, J9 1 -*, *94 197-8, 

200, 207, 262, 264, 270, 278 
Cronstadt, 30, 53, 76, 135, 200 
Crozat collection, 220 
Cyprus, 180 
Czartoriski family, 120 



D'Alembert, 42, 99 
Dalmatia, 180 

Danton, Georges Jacques, 211 
Dantzig, 10, 144, 203, 211 
Danube, river, 135, 138, 199 
Daschkov, princess, 61, 73, 76, 

79, 81, 86, 233, 252-3, 256 
Dee, Dr., 262 

Demetrius, tsarevitch, 162-3 
Denmark, 119, 201 
Diaghilev, S^rge, 282 
Diderot, Denis, 42, 101, 156, 

174, 210, 219-20, 223 
Dimsdale, Dr. Thomas, 262-4 
Dnieper, river, 21, 113, 131, 

144, 146, 179, 185, 190, 

198; Cossacks of, 134 
Dniester, river, no, 113, 115, 

131,135,145,180,207,208, 

270 
Dnitrewski, 230 



INDEX 



Don, river, 131, 152-3, 158; 
Cossacks of, 134, 153, 155, 

159, 16? 

Dresden, 24, 46, 234 
Dumouricz, general, 143-4 
Dutch immigrants, 245-6 
Dwina, river, 144 

East India Company, 139 

Edinburgh, 256 

Egypt, 157, 195 

Elizabeth, empress of Russia, 
2, 4-6, 8, 11-16, 19, 21, 
23~9, 31* 33-4* 36, 40-4. 
49-57. 59-62, 78, 90-3, 
112, 165, 168, 216, 218, 223, 

231,248,252,255,277 
Elizabeth, queen of England, 

262 
Elphinstone, Admiral John, 

136 185, 245 
Encyclopaedists, 56, 279 
Esterhazy, count, 54 
Esthonia, no, in 

Falconnet, Etienne, 223, 243 
Falk, professor, 267-8 
Finland, 200, 224, 226, 278 
Finland, gulf of, 29, 215, 223, 

226 
Fitzherbert, Alleyne, Lord 

St. Helens, 187-8, 191 
Flcury, 198 

Fox, Charles, 204-5, 212-13 
France, 15, 26-7, 37, 45, 48-9, 
5'. 53, 57, 59, 9^-2, 121, 
125, X28, 132, 136, 138-9, 
176-7, 195-6, 202, 205, 210, 
231, 234, 246, 249, 251, 276, 
280; king and queen, 206, 
210; St. Cyr, 255 
Frederick the Great, king of 
Prussia, 6, 8, 9, 10, 19, 21, 
24-9, 3i-2, 42, 45-9, 51, 
53-4, 57-9, 62-4, 70-2, 80- 
i, 90-4, 103, 117-21, 123-4, 
132, 140-2, 144, 171, 176, 



179, 181, 200, 202-4, 213-14, 
253, 264 

Frederick William, king of 
Prussia, 179, 202, 205, 210 

Galicia, 144; West, 213 

Gatchina, 226, 277 

Geneva, 42, 94 

George II, 6, 46-7, 58 

George III, 58, 61,204 

Georgi, Johann Gottlieb, 215, 
216, 218, 224-5, 231, 233, 
234-5, 237-8, 241-2, 245, 
248, 253-5, 257, 261, 268 

Georgia, 186, 194-5, 268, 270 

Germany and the Germans, 
28, 37, 184, 210, 234, 244-6 

Gibraltar, Straits of, 137 

Gmelin, Samuel, 267 

Godonov, Boris, 162 

Golitsyn, prince, 135 

Gould, , 228, 245 

Gradno, 211 

Great Britain, 25, 45-9, 59, 
85, 90-2, 103, 120, 137, 139- 

40, 2O2-5, 2IO, 217, 222, 

228, 231-2, 258 ; immigrants 

from, 98, 134, 1 60, 245, 262 
Greece, 137, 180 
Green, Valentine, 245 
Greig, Admiral Samuel, 136, 

185, 1 86, 245 
Grimm, Frederick Melchior, 

95, 174, 178,207,211,219, 

220, 227, 279 
Gross Jagerndorf, 51 
Guldenstadt, Dr., 268 
Gustavus, king of Sweden, 

199-201, 202 

Hadchibei, 199, 207 

Hague, the, 202 

Hamilton, duke of, 256 

Hanbury- Williams, Sir 
Charles, 46-7, 49, 50, 53-4, 
56,60-2,73,89, 119, 168 

Hanover, 46, 47 

289 



INDEX 



Harris, Sir James, Lord 
Malmcsbury, 170-2, 174-5, 
179,182,187,189,202,204, 
219, 229, 266, 271, 276, 280 

Hedwig, heiress to Polish 
throne, 113 

Henry IV of France, 20 

Henry of Prussia, prince, 80, 
142, 143, 210 

Hcraclius of Georgia, 186, 195 

Hertsberg, 203 

Herzen, 26 

Hesse-Darmstadt, princess of, 
174 

Holland, 202, 217 

Holstejn Gottorp, Charles of, 5 

Holstcin Gottorp, duke of, see 
Peter III; family, 5 

Holstein Guards, 70-1, 

Holy Roman Empire, 101 

1'Hdpital, Paul de, 54, 57 

Houdon, sculptor, 220 

India, 139 

Inkerman (Theodora), 191 

Instructions, 99-102, 272, 278 

Ireland, 258 

Ismail, 199 

Italians, 246 

Italy, 231 

Ivan VI, 4, 78, 84, 88, 89 

Ivan the Great, 15, 129-30 

Ivan the Terrible, 37, 84, 165 

Jackson, , 245 

Jagellon, duke of Lithuania, 

1x3 

Sa^ellon, house, of, 115 
aick, river, 167 
assy, I35 195, 207 
oseph II, emperor, 139, 142, 
176-81, 187, 191-2, 199, 201 

Kalmucks, 247 
Kama, river, 165 
Kaniev, 190 
Karamzin, 253 

29 



Karelia, 200 

Karr, general, 160, 161 

Kaunitz, Wcnccslas Anton 

von, 48, 142 
Kazan, 23, 165, 166, 247; 

University, 198 
Ker, Robert, 160 
Kerch, 146 
Kharkov, 192 

Kherson, 185-6, 191, 206-7 
Kiev, 21-2, 29, 37, 1 10, 1 13-15, 

130, 176, 189-90, 250, 263; 

academy, 257-8 ; catacombs, 

22; cathedral, 22, 189; 

monastery, 22, 189; princes 

of, 129, 130 
Kinburn, 146, 197 
Kokorinov, 248 
Konigsberg, 10 

Kosciuszko, Thaddeus, 211-13 
Kuban, 146 
Kuchuk-Kainardji, treaty of, 

145, 180, 182, 194, 207 
Kunersdorf, 58 

La Harpe, 'Frederick Caesar, 

278-80, 282 

La Mothe, Vallin de, 218, 248 
Latvia, see Livonia 
Le Blond, 235 
Leibnitz, Gottfried Wilhelm, 

251 

Leopold, emperor, 201, 210 
Levitz, 267 
Levitzki, 250 

Lithuania, 21, 1x3-15,2x1,213 
Lithuania-Poland, 1 14-16, 1 18 
Livonia f Latvia), ix, 46, 

IIO-II 

Locke, John, xox 

Lomonosov, Michael, 37, 252- 
3,260 

London, 221-2, 271; West- 
minster, 47-9, 6x, 256 

Loudon, James, 228, 229, 234 

Louis XV, 5, x68, 198 

Louis XVI, 206, 210, 2ii 

Lublin, 115, 1x6, 213 



INDEX 



Macedonia, 180 
Mackenzie, rear-admiral, 185 
Mahucu, Nanette, 246 
Maitland, F. W., 83 
Mann, Sir Horace, 2121 
Maria Theresa, 7, 48, 90, 92, 

i39> H2, 176-7, 179 
Mavor, James, 260 
Maynard, John, 67 
Mediterranean, 133, 135, 137- 

9; eastern, 139, 187, 202 
Memel, 10 

Mickhclson, general, 166 
Moldavia, 138, 146, 180, 194, 

206-7 

Molihcv, 178 
Mongols, 21, 23, 37, 109, 113, 

129, 130, 132-4, 153, 169 
Montagu, George, 77 
Montesquieu, Charles Secon- 

dat, baron de, 38, 100 
Moors, 247 
Morea, 180 
Morgan, 245 
Moscow, 13-15, 21, 23-4, 29, 

30, 37, 64, 66, 80, 87, 105, 

109,114,148,152,156,159, 
161, 164-7, 169, 178, 190, 
192-3,231,233,240-1,244, 
247, 252, 258, 261, 265; 
Annenhof palace, 15; 
Chapel of the Assumption, 
20-i, 85, 148, 250; Golivin 
palace, 15, 29; Kremlin, 3, 
4, 15, 85, I0 5, ?48; princes 
of, 130, university, 37, 171, 
252, 257 

Moskva river, 15, 233 

Mouschkin-Pouschkin, 221 

Muscovy, 66 

Mustapha III, sultan of 
Turkey, 128 



Neva, 12, 78, 140, 215-16, 
223-5, 229, 234, 255 ; Great, 
248; Little, 248 

Newcastle, duke of, 46, 47, 49 



Nicholas I, emperor of Russia, 

280, 282 

Nicholas II, 282-3 
Niemen, river, 270 
North Sea, 136 
Novgorod, 14, 72 
Novgorod, archbishop of, 74, 

80 



Oder, river, i, 58 
Odessa, 207, 270 
Oranienbaum, 29-30, 35, 72, 

75, 76, 77, 94 
Orel, 192 
Orel, river, 154 
Orenburg, 154, 159, 160-3 
Orlov, Alexis, 73-4, 77-9, 81, 

136, 137 
Orlov, Gregori, 71-4, 81, 89, 

105-6, 119, 145, 162, 171-2, 

213, 219, 225-6 
Orlov, Theodore, 73 
Orlov, Waldimir, 252 
Ottoman empire, 139 
Ottoman invaders of Europe, 

129 
Ozchakov, 198-9, 205, 207 



Paleologus line, 130 
Paleologus, Zoe, 129 
Pallas, professor, 183, 267 
Panin, Count Nikita, 53, 73, 
75, 89, 90-1, 98, 118-21, 
i35,Hi-3, 175-^,182,214, 

243, 277 

Panin, Peter, 166 
Pares, Sir Bernard, 240 
Paris, 120, 131, 175, 220, 270, 

280 
Paul I, emperor of Russia, 

40-1, 45, 60, 73, 75, 84, 

87-8, 173-4, 187, 226, 227, 

277-9, 281-2' 
Pavlousk, 227 

Perekop, 130-1, 133, 182, 191 
Perm, 164 



INDEX 



Persia, 154, 367 

Peter III, 5, 13, 16-18, 20-2, 
9, 3<>-6, 4' 43-5, 50, 53, 
55-7, 60, 62-4, 69-84, 86-7, 
9-*, W-S, 162-3, 165, 
278, 281 

Peter the Great, 2-4, i i-i 4, 23, 



26, 29, 30, 37, 53, 
68-9, 78, 80, 84, 93, _ 
105, 107-8, in, 113, 126, 
IS 1 * X 35, *54, *66, 192, 200, 
215-18, 223, 229, 234-5, 237, 
240, 244-5, 251, 254, 256, 
261, 267, 270; daughters, 

n A 

Peterhof, 29, 30, 59, 76-7; 
English palace, 226, 230; 
pavilion " Mon Plaisir," 

72,74 
Picton, 94 

Pitt, Mrs. Anne, 77-8 
Pitt, William, earl of Chatham, 

46-8, 139, 202 
Pitt, William, the younger, 

201-5 

Podolia, 144 
Poland, 8, 21, 109-28, 132-4, 

141-4, 155, 157, 170, 187, 

207-15, 270 



Poland, Little, 144 
Poniatowski, Stanislas, see 

Stanislas Augustus, king of 

Poland 
Poltava, 192 
Pomerania, 58-3, 63 
Potemkin, Prince Gregori, 

prince of Tauris, 170-94, 

196-9, 204-7, 219, 228, 255, 

283 
Prussia, 18, 26, 46-$, 51, 57, 

63-4, 72, 81, 90-1, 124-5, 

139-41, 144, 181, 202-5, 

210-13 

Prussia, ducal, 141, 144 
Prussia, East, 51, 63, 92, no 
Pruth, river, 199 
Pugachev, Emilian, 149-69, 

184, 265, 267, 276 



Quarenghi, 219, 226, 246 

Raditschev, 275-6 

Rapnin, Prince Anakita, 121, 

125 
Rastrelli, Bartolommeo, 12, 

29, 30, S?, 218, 246, 255 
R6au, Louis, 224-5, 227, 250 
Reichenbach, 204 
Reinbeck, C., 235-7, 240, 269 
Reinegg, Dr., 268 
Renan, Ernest, 40 
Revel, in, 200 
Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 222 
Rhine, river, 28, 210 
Riga, lo-ir, 13, in 
Rinaldo, Antonio, 30, 225-7, 

246 

Robertson, William, 256-7 
Rogerson, Dr. John, 262 
Romanov, house, of, 4, 84 
Romanov, Michael, 84 
Rondeau, Claudius, 8 

Ropsha, 77, 78, 94 
Rose, Holland, 181 
Rostov, archbishop of, 87, 88 
Rurik, royal family of, 84 
Rychkov, 260 

St. Hubertusberg, Saxony, 92 
St. Peter and St. Paul fortress 
and cathedral, 12, 72, 217-18, 

263, 281 

St. Petersburg, 11-14, 21, 
23-4, 29, 30, 45-6, 63-4, 
74, 77, 79-8i 85, 90, 93-4, 
103, 105, 114, 119, 120-1, 
J33, H H3, 148, 156, 
i59-&> 163-4, *7<>- x , 178- 
9, 183, 190, 195-6, 200, 202, 

206, 210, 213, 215-47, 250, 

252, 254-5, 257, 260, 263, 
270, 276, 279, 280 ; academy, 
248, 251-3, 264, 271 ; admir- 
alty, 12, 217-18, 230, 235; 
Isaac cathedral, 224 ; church 
of Our Lady of Kazan, 23, 
74, 218, 250; exhibition, 



292 



INDEX 



282-3; foreigners in, 215, 
243-4, 247; French In- 
stitute, 224; gardens, 228-9, 
230-1 ; Hermitage, 178, 
218-23, 224-5, 230,270,281 ; 
marble palace, 225-6, 229; 
Nevsky prospect, 23, 74, 
235; St. Alexander Nevski 
monastery, 281 ; Summer 
palace, 29; Winter palace, 
12, 29, 59, 75, 83, 173, 188, 
218, 227, 230, 232, 281; 
Tauride palace, 206, 224-5, 
228, 282 

Saltikov, Sergei, 38-41, 119 

Samara, 164 

Saxony, 49, 63, 92, 119, 209, 
116; electors of, 112, 116 

Schlussclbcrg, fortress of, 78 

S6gur, Louis Philippe, 81, 
187-9, 190-1, X94. 196, 
209-10, 219, 232-3, 235, 
262, 269, 274 

Serbia, 180 

Sevastopol, 185-6^ 191, 197, 
270 

Shibanov, 250, 260 

Shuvalov, Alexander, 27, 769 

93 

Shuvalov, Ivan, 93, 188 
Shuvalov, Peter, 27, 61, 93, 

1 68, 248 
Shuvalov family, 43, 51-3, 60, 

87 
Siberia, 111-12, 149, 165, 

224-5, 275 

Silesia, 7, 29, 48, 63, 92, 119 

Sixtus IV, pope, 129 

Smith, Adam, 256 

Smolensk, 171, 178 

Smolny, 192, 255, 258; cathe- 
dral, 255 

Stanislas Augustus, king of 
Poland, 50, 119, 120-6, 144, 
187, 190, 209, 212-13, 226 

Stargard, 10, n 

Stockholm, 40, 53, 73, 89 



Suvorov, Alexander, 126-7, 
*33> 143-4* *66> 196-9, 213 

Sweden, i, xi, 28, ill, 119, 
199-202; Swedes, 134 

Sweden, queen of, 80 

Switzerland : Berne canton, 
279; Vaux canton, 278, 280 

Tartars, 156, 247 
Teschen, arbitration of, 177 
Thorn, 144, 203, 211 
Thrace, 180 
Tooke, William, 264-7 
Troubczkoi, prince, 76 
Tsarskoe Selo, 14, 29, 52, 

173,178,188,193,212,227, 
230, 270; Alexander palace, 
226-7 

Turkey, and the Turks, no, 
127, 128-48, 149, 155, 179, 
180, 183-6, 194-214, 265; 
in Europe, 128, 130-1, 135, 
138, 140, 176, 179; Grand 
Vizier, 195; tributaries north 
of Black Sea, 146 
*" < 

Ufa, 164 

Ukraine, 183-4, .* ZII) 2 ^7 

United Provinces, 203 

Upton, colonel, 185 

Ural mountains, 67, 154-5, 

165, 224, 268, 270 
Ural river, 152-4; Cossacks of, 

I34 '53, I55i *57> 159 

Vasili Ostrov, or Basil Island, 

248 

Velton, ,219 
Versailles, 15, 24, 232; treaty, 

49, 5', 9i, 92 
Vienna, 246, 270 
Vilna, 213 

Vistula, river, 28, 51, 58, 143 
Vladimir, prince of Kiev, 129 
Volga, river, 23, 152-3, 161, 

165, 167 

293 



INDEX 



Voltaire, Francois Marie 
Arouet de, 38, 42, 93-5, 
104, 123, 138, 143, 156-7, 
162-3, 167-9, 174-5. 220, 
247, 254 

Vorontsov, Elizabeth, 55, 60, 
61,71,77,87 

Vorontsov, Count Michael, 
55, 60, 72, 76, 86, 157 

Vorontsov family, 87 

Walker, James, 245 
Wallachia, 138, 145-6, 180, 
194 



Walpole, George, 221 
Walpole, Horace, 77, 78, 80, 

85-6> 13* > 220-1, 253 
Warsaw, 121, 123, 211, 213 
White Russia, 211 
White Sea, in, 267 
Wilmot, Catherine, 79 
Wortley-Montagu, Lady 

Mary, 265 
Wurtcmburg, princess of, 174 

Yauza, river, 15, 29 
Zorndorf, battle of, 57 



294 



IB 

i 



fc< 



31 I 
U 2 



ji 

8 



^3 I 

IS 



5 



<0 

e ' 



!' 



ft. 



*i~< 

u.S 



Q 

z-