« ZurückWeiter »
cumstance which gave him patrons and the attempt.
Potemkin had frequently seen means of making his fortune. He soon ob Catharine, aud was an enthusiastic admirer tained a Lieutenancy, which, in the horse-l of ber beauty. This sentiment of admiration guards, confers the rank of Major in the army; heightened perhaps by the secret suggestions and intimately connected himself with the of ambition, seduced bus from the pa:b of Orloffs. They were five brothers; Gregory, | dury. His zeal and bis activity gained niany afterwards the favourite; Alexey, who, in the friends to Catharine, and, in a comparatively war against the Turks in 1768, commanded the low situation, Potemkin did much to insure Russian Rect in the Archipelago; Vladimir, the success of the enterprise. who became a senatos, and Feodor and Ivan, “On the 28th of June 1762 (the gth of July who were made cbamberlains after the revo. 1762,0.S.) at seven in the mous.jug, Catharine lution. They were indeed the principal agents
the quarter of the Imaïlott'sky in Ibat famous conspiracy, which hurled | Guards, where she was enthusiastically proPeter III from the throne of Russia, to place || claimed sovereign by the soldiers. The the imperial crown on the brow of Catharine, Chaplain of the regiment received the vath of his spouse, with whom Gregory, the eldest of the troops on a cucifix. In less than two the five brothers, commenced a love intrigue | hours Catharine saw herself surrounded by when she was only Grand Duchess.
two thousand warriors and a great number of “ Gregory Orloff possessed neither the ad. the inhabitants of St. Petersburgh, who vantages of birth nor those of education ; but chanix ally followed her to the church of he had received from nature courage and Kasan, where the Arebbishop of Novgorod beauty. He was an officer in the artillery, placed the imperial crown on her head. wbile two of his brothers, Alexey and Vladi. “Count Panin, who, under the Empress mir, were only common soldiers in the guards. | Elizabeth, bad been employed in several fo. Count Peter Schuvaloff, Grand Master of tbe reigu embassies, and on bis relurn had been artillery, a vain aud pompous man, was de appointed governor to Paul Petrovitch, the sirous of having the handsomest of his officers son of Peter and Catharine, though devoted for bis aid-de-camp, as he bad for his mistress to the latter, had lent himself to lhe plans of Princess Kourakin, the most beautiful lady of the conspirators, with the simple view of de. the court. He selected Orloff, and his mis. claring Catharine sole guardian of the Grand tress, pleased with his chuice, soon gave the Duke Paul and Regent of the Empire during handsome aid-de-camp a hint that she pre his ininority. But he found that it was too ferred him to bis general. Unfortunately, the late to reinonstr. te against what had been latter surprised them together. He threat. i done, when a strong enthusiasm in favour of ened to exert his interest to have Orluff Catharive was bec me general, and she had banished to Siberia. This adventure reached be-n suli mo'y and almost unanimously prothe ears of Catharine. Curiosity led her to claimed autocratrix or sele suvereign ruler of wish for an acquaintance with the young otfi. the empire. cer whose disaster was the subject of public
“ Towards youn,
the Empres, dressed in the conversation. Orloff was secretly introduced to i uviform of the guards, and decorated with the the Grand Duchess, and as soon as the latter insignia of the order of St. Andrew, inspected thought berself assured of the boliness and the guards on horseback, and ride through the discretion of her lover, she unveiled to him ra ks with Princess Dashkoff, who was also her ambitious designs. On the death of Ge in uniform. Potemkin, perceiving that Caneral Schuvaloff she prevailed with Lieuse. Tharive bad nu piume in her hat, rode up to tenant-General Villebois, who obtained the offer ber bis own. The horse on which he command of the artillery, to give Orloff the was mounted being ecustomed to form into place of Captain-paym:ster of bis corps. che qudrup, wis some time before it could
“Orloff now lost no opportunity of gaining be made to quit the side of that of the Emadherents to her whom he had resolved to make | press; which afforded her the first ppurhis sole supereign. Peter III. had been but a tunity of noticing the grice and agility of very short time io possession of the throne, the man who was to gain so great an ascendwhen, by means of his brothers, and a few other
ancy over her. conspirators, Orloff won over some companies “At six in tbe evening Catharine a second of the guards without imparting to the his. time munted her horse with a drawn sword real desiga. Having discovered in Potemkin in her hand, and a branch of oak about her dispositions that might be favourabe to his temples. Sbe placed herself at the head of views, be also endevoured to bring bim over the troops that were already on their march to his cause, and easily succeeded in the to Peterotł, an imperial palace on the banks
of the Neva. Potemkin was one of the nume- she caused her superiority to be forgotten by rous courliers who vied with each other in the gracefulness of her manners and the en. displaying the greatest ardour to share her chanting gaiety of her conversation. The perdavgers and her triumph. The next day he fect freedom which prevailed in these assenattended Gregory Orloff to Oranienbaum, blies allowed a decent jocularity. Wit, taanother imperial palace, built by Menzikoff, lents, and politeness were the only titles to eight verts fartber, whether the unfortunate pre-eminence, and distinc:ion was commeuPeter had retired, and whence the perfidius 'surate to amiability. Under the appearance of Ismailoff persuaded him to repair to the Em- | thinking only of pleasure in these parties, press. Potemkin was charged to escort the most of the courtiers no doubt were pot unbetrayed Emperor's carriage to Peterhoff with mindful of the interests of their ambition. a sufficient number of troops. It was at Peter. Potenkin, among others, who only appeared hoff that Peter wrote and signed his resigaa chearful, gallant, and agreeable, did not lose tion, which was dictated to him by Count sight of his object, and thought himself Pauin.
doubly fortunate in advancing towards ho“ As soon as Catharine saw berself firmlynour by the road of pleasure. seated on the throne, she bestowed magnifi “Whether Catharine, struck at first sight cent rewards on the principal actors in the with the noble and commanding figure of her revolt against her husbud. Count Panio new courtier, actually thewed him marked was made Prime Minister; the Orloffs re. distinction, or whether the kinduess with whicb ceived the title of Counts ; Gregory Orloff, she treated him was but the expression of her
veral, and made a Knight of St. Alexander ceived in Ibe attentiou with which she ho. Newsky, the second order of the empire. Se noured him something particular, which imveral officers of the guards were promoted. | mediately led him to form the highest bopes. Potemkin was made a Colonel and a Gentle His excessive vanity would not allow him to man of the Bed-chamber, with an annual reflect that Catbaride was endowed with an pension of two thousand roubles; and he was irresistible gracefulness that shewed itself naimmediately dispatched to Stockholm pri- turally, without any effort, and promptly vately to inform Couni Ostermann, the Rus- gained ber the affections even of those who sian ambassador, of the revolution that had approached her with a strong prepossession taken place at Petersburgh.
against her. He was delighted in thinking « On his return from Sweden, Potemkin that she used this gift for bim alone ; neglected no opportunity of becoming inti. he no longer beheld her as a sovereign, but mately acquainted with those who were more simply as an accomplished female, whose immediately about the Empress. He pos- favour it was not impossible to obtain. From sessed an insinuating address, and, wben he | this instant he formed the design of becoming chose, he could be perfect master of the art of one day her favourite, and never ceased for a gaining the affections of those whose patronage single moment to direct his thuughts and be thought useful to his views. He contrived actions to the accomplishment of this proto reuder himself agreeable, and even neces ject. Whenever he appeared to relinquish it sary, to the courtiers tbat stood bighest in the for a time, it was to take a circuitous road, favour of Catharine, enlivened their pleasures, || which conducted bim more safely back to his and succeded at last in being admitted to the object. His prospect, however, at this time, private parties of the Empress, to whom he must have been extremely distant. The emwas introduced as a most amiable man, parti- | pire which gratitude, love, and habit, gave to cularly calculated to heighten the bilarity of Orloff over the heart of the Empress, seemed ber social hours.
tvo firmly established for any one lo struggle " As nature had endowed him with a mas against him with the smallest hopes of suc. culine and noble figure, an artful and insinu Orloff at this period harboured designs ating disposition, and a brilliant imagination, and formed pretensions to which it would bare Potemkin met with so flattering a reception been dangerous to run counter. He fattered from his sovereign that he thought hiinself au bimself he should obtain the hand of his sothorized to pay her the most assiduous court. vereign; and although the Empress frequently
“ Catharine was foud of relieving berself | expressed some impatience at the tone of aufrom the cares of the empire in the midst of thority which be assumed, yet she felt weither a private and select society, from which, the inclination nor the power to bazard an setting aside the majesty of the throne, she open rupture with the man whuse bolduess banished every courtly formality, and in which I had placed her on the i brone.
“ Potemkin for the moment yielded to ob- || pleased at the boldness of this presumption, stacles wbich time would infallibly weaken ; conferred every day fresh marks of kindness but the natural violence of his temper would upon her secret admirer. Potemkin was apnot allow him to keep within the bounds of a pointed a Chamberlain. This office, indediscretion imperiously commanded by circum- ) pendent of its giving the rank of Major-Gestances. Some vew marks of the kindness of neral and the title of Excellency, enabled his sovereign having inflamed his courage and
him to have free access to bis sovereign. But his hopes, he assumed beforehand the this access increased his passion, and the inners of a preferred lover, raised his tone, and, || visible obstacles which bis all-powerful rival in short, touk liberties which offended the was yet opposing to his success, reduced him known favourite to such a degree that he re to despair. solved not to leave his jusolent temerity un “ Fortunately, the war against the Turks, punished.
which began in 1709, and ended in 1774 by “ Potemkin one day called upon Gregory | the peace, of Kainardji, was just commencOrloff, and found him alone with bis brother | ing. Potemkin obtained leave to repair to the Alexey. The haughty manner and air of as army. The Empress particularly recommend. surance with which he approached the two ed him by a jelter written with her own brothers, increased the growing ill-will of the band to General Romanzoff, the commander eldest, who thought this a favourable oppor in chief of the Russian troops, who aftertunity to let the presumptuous youth feel the wards obtained the surname of Zadoundaiskoi, effect of his resentment. He intimated as for his brilliant passage of the Danube in 1770. much to Alexey by a secret nod, and they || Potemkin served under bim as Adjutant-Ge. both purposely irritated Potemkiu by galling neral. observations, which made the latter forget the “ Romanzoff could not help receiving Porespect which he owed to the Orloffs as his temkin well; but he never gave bim bis con. superiors in rank. They resented the insult
tidence; nor ever employed bim on any im. on the spot by falling both violently upon por ant service; yet, like a skilful courtier, him. He was obliged to submit to a disgrace. who foiesaw the bigb favour to which Potemful treatment which he durst not revenge, kin miglit a rive at suine future time, he and it was on this occasion that he is sup- availed bimse if of his good conduct on several posed to have lost an eye, though it is more occasions to give the Empress the most splengenerally believed that it was struck by a ball did account of his zeal and valour. Delighted in a tennis-court, and that he put it out him with any pretence for exalling the object of self to free it from the bleamish which it de her secret partiality, Catharine appointed rived from the accident.
Potemki a Liemtenant-General. This rapid “ His adventure with the Orloffs was, how. || promotion stimulated bim 10 still greater ex. ever, favourable for him in its consequence.
ertiups. He boped to derive from intrigue the Catharine easily discovered the share which means of accomplishing what his courage had she had in the transaction. Regarding Po.
so happily commenced. temkiy as a victim of his admiration for “ Being apparently reconciled with the she would willingly have given him consoling i Orlofs, who were yet all-powerful al court, testimonies of her gratitude ; but as she dared and knowing them to be on bad terms with not offend to such a degree the Orloffs, whom ihe Field-Marshal, Prince Galitzin, under she still feared, she determined to break off whom he was serving at that time, Potemkin, those private parties in which Potemkin could in his private correspondence with Gregory no longer appear.
Orloff, undervalued the services of that “ The natural levity of the Orloffs made estima le General, and censured bis operathem soon forget the affair ; they gradually Lions: but he did not succeed in having him resumed their former intimacy with Potemkin, rem ved from his command. Galitzin kept who, cautiously dissembling, procrastinated his situation. Potemkin behaved with carerevenge; but availing himself of the impru. I lessne s during the remainder of the camdence of his enemies, he again approached his paign, and no longer soug i fir opportunities sovereign, and improved every opportunity of to distinguish himself. It was watural for manifesting how ardently desirous he was of him suddenly to pass from extreme activity her favour. The manner in which he was re to «xtreze indolence, and it was not alu ays the ceived by the Lipiess strengthened his ex want of success which determined such a sudpectations; his confid nce in bis success be- den cbauge. came such, that he was not afraid of owning “lutne mean time he was informed that his hopes. Catharine, far from being dis.! the Enpress, tired at last of a yoke which
love no longer rendered easy, had resolved to “As this account was given to the Emget rid of Orloff. He immediately used every press by persone who had her covfidence and possible means of returning to court with the that of Potemkin, she readily beli ved it, and utmost speed, and finding Marshal Roman- appeared pleased with the idea of inspiring a zoff pretty well disposed to grant him any sentiment that would justify the choice to favour calculated to remove him from the which her own inclination impelled her.-I army, he readily obtained of this General the cannot comprehend,' said Catharine to her promise of being sent to Petersburgh witb | confidants, what can have reduced him to dispatches as soon as the troops gained a suc.
uc-such despair, since I never declared against cess of sufficient importance to be announced him. I faucied, on the contrary, that the by a general officer. Potemkin did not know affability of my reception must have given bim that the Empress had confessed ber being com- to understand that his homage was not displetely tired of Orloff to Count Panin, who pleasing.' This declaration was faithfully reproposed Vassiltschikoff to supply ibe place of ported to Potemkin in his retreat. His friends the discarded favourite. This Lieutenant of li took care to add, ibat Vassiltschikoff's higb the guards being young and handsvine, was favour was merely apparent, and decreasing accepted. The Empress appointed bim her
every day. Chamberlain, made bim magnificent presents, “ Potemkin, however, steady in his plan, and treated him even in public with a fami retired to the couvent of Alexander Newski, ljarity that betrayed her satisfaction. Orloff, situated at one of the extremities of St. Petersin the beginning of 1773, retired froni Peters- || burgh, on the banks of the Neva, upon the burgh, and set out upon a journey through
very spot where Alexander I. Czar of Volodivarious parts of Europe.
mir, gained a great victory over the Swedes, “ The opportunity so ardently desired by in the thirttenth century, when he was but Potemkin offered itself at last. Romanzoff, Prince of Novgorod. He there took the babit on trusting bim with his dispatches for the of a monk, and declared his firm resolve to Empress, requesied bis patronage at some
me enter into boly orders. This desigu was confuture time. But Potemkin, who was informed stantly lurking in the bottom of his heart, in that, after his departure, the Marshal had cx. consequence of his first education. He always pressed great satisfaction at being rid of an mixed practices of a most childish superstition importunate attendant, vowed him an inie. with his ministerial occupations, with the concilable hatred wbich lasted as long as his conviviality of entertainments, with the plealife.
sures of love, and with political intrigues. He “ The manner in which he was received by delayed an important journey, to visit a mothe Empress would bave delighted any one nastery; dismissed his mistress to receive a but Potemkin, who saw the situation to which bishop; jsterrupted an essential conference, he aspired filled by another. The grief of his to have the mitre of a prelate embroidered beart was equal to the disappointment of his with gold and pearls, and was more frequently ambition. Unable to conceal bis regret, be tempted to become a monk tban an emperor. vented it with much artfulness. After having | Had not death so quick put an end to bis career, been at first very assiduous in his attend.
it is probable that he who wanted to marry ance at court, he on a sudden appeared only the Sovereign of ail the Russias, who was amvery rarely, and with a dejected countenance, bitious of ascending the throne of Poland, an absent mind, speaking little, and in a
and who aimed at ibe sovereignty of Courmorose tone; and when he had reached the
land, would have terminated his life in a achmé of desp: in which he thought capable of cloister.” moving Lis sovereign, ke absented himself entirely, lived in the most profou d retreat, Having reigned long the favourite of and gay it out that he was determined to the Empress, and surmounted every danshut limself up in a convent. Surprised and ger from the jealousy of rivals, and the angry at Potemkin's suclusion, Catharine more formidable risk of the changeable made some i quiries, learned, p-rhaps with caprice of an arbitrary mistress, who saw more satisfactioi than astonisdiment, 'that l around her a people of cringing slaves, an unfortuuate and violent passion had re
and, with the solitary exception of one huduced him to despair, and that in this sad condition he deemed it prudent ii fly ile ob
i'an sensibility, had nothing whereby her ject that caused bis torrent, since its sight sub lued, Potemkin saw his power on the
natui al disposition could be mitigated and could but aggravate his sufierings, which were already intolerable.'
decline, as the graces of his youth passed
away, and his constitution became broken gether insupportable. His residence at Yagsy by sickness.
appeared in every respect fatal to his health. It has been observed that the death of He determined to quit that place, and to regreat men has not often circumstances of
move to Oczakof; perhaps with a view to ex. dignity suitable to the magnificence of pire on the theatre of bis glory. He set out their lives. It was so with Potemkin.-His
on the 15th of October, 1791, at tbree o'clock
in the morning. Scarcely had be travelled a death was sudden, and is thus related by
few versts, when he could no longer bear the his biographer.—Having set out to con
motion of the carriage. He alighted. A carduct a campaign in Turkey, he was over
pet was spread at the foot of a tree: on this taken by sickness :
he was placed. He had no longer strength to “ On bis arrival at Yassy, Potemkio's first utter a word; he could only press the hand of care was to send for Repnin, and to over his favourite niece, Countess Branicky, who whelm bim with the bitterest reproaches for
was with him; and he expired in ber arms. haying dared to fight and to couclude a peace
Thus perisbed, on the bigh road, the man
whose fame in bis life.time had resounded all without consulting bim. Confiding in the support of the Empress, Repnin for the first
over Europe; the most magnificent prince of time dared to brave the anger of Potemkin,
bis age; more powerful than many kings; the and was perbaps the first Russian who had founder of a great number of towns and pa. that temerity. He answered, that he had || laces; who had increased by a third the real done nothing but his duty, and owed no ac value of the territory of the empire in which cuunt of his conduct to any but his sovereigo. l be was born, and elevated the glory of his Potemkin nevertheless prepared to overturn country to a point which dazzled other na. his work ; but heaven left bim no time for the tions. He had but just completed the fiftyexecution of this design.
second year of his age. “ Every day, every hour, his illness grew “ The mews of Potemkin's death had a truly worse, and death drew vearer. Exertion, dreadful effect upon Catharine: she swooned fatigue, the fire of his imagination, the viva.
several times, was forced to be bled, and the city of his passious, and the excesses of all
symptoms of her grief partook in some degree kinds to which he had so long given bimself | of terror. Potemakin was the main pillar of up, had worn him out. Potemkin felt life ber power, and the greatest ornament of her ebbing without having any apparent malady. throne. The Empress knew this; she knew Instead of attempting his cure by adopting a that she lost in himn a devoted friend, who had diet suitable to his indisposition, he grew caused her to be respected and feared, and who impatient at bis sufferings, and pretended to had rendered himself too formidable for any overcome them by the strength of his consti
one ever to attempt to resist bis ascendancy. tution. He dismissed bis physicians, lived By the death of Potemkin Catharine was left upon salt meat and raw turnips, and drank
without a guardian over her interests. She kot wines and spirituous liquors. His disease manifested ever after the weakness and irreso. soon grew worse, his blood was inflamed, his lution of a female bereft of her support. situation des perate. News was sent to Peters
“In a military point of view, it cannot be burgh that Potemkin could not live : Ca
denied that he discharged the office of Presi. tharine heard it with much unconcern. The dent of the Council of War with ability, and firmness of her mind was complimented, while improved the internal organization, the formaber stoicism ought to have been placed to the
tion, the discipline, the appearance, the arms, account of her incredulity. She could not
and the maneuvres of the Russian army. He suppose that she was so soon to lose the hero
raised the genius of the Russians by exalting of her reign. When the catastrophe happened
their unconquerable courage, and teaching she plainly shewed the estimation in which them to fight with that boldness and vigour she had held the life of a subject so illustrious
wbich suit them, and which, however, they and so necessary to her owu glory.
had never before displayed, because no one “Potemkin, in the mean time, struggled to | (Munich perhaps excepted) had been comavail himself of a remnant of life. His inabi- | pletely aware of this feature in the Russian lity to attend with assiduity to the important | character. Swaroff, whom Potemkin highly affairs which occupied bis miod, caused bis | valued and constantly patronized, inherited his greatest torment. At length bis situation, principles in this respect, and became in. grown worse from day to day, became alto- Il vincible.”